Valiant Fusion

In about 1992, we acquired a 1972 Valiant for Lady Devotea to drive.

We asked my Dad – who was a car dealer – to find us a small, second hand 4-cylinder car at a modest price as we didn’t have much money, and a few days later, a car transport turned up and deposited the 6-cylinder Chrysler Valiant, which was about as long as a house.

I called him, and he explained that, while it didn’t meet most of the brief, the price to us was exactly $0 so it was not a bad option.

And it was indeed, not a bad option. It was comfortable, with a front bench seat, and with our two small children at the time, it felt very safe.

And it was actually a great car. We had it for a few years, and the only downside was that when a dangerous criminal escaped from the courthouse and our town was locked down, it got repeatedly searched as you could have stashed a volleyball team in the boot*.

It did have one little quirk, though. It had what’s called a flat spot in the accelerator**. So, if you put your foot down hard, it would lurch forward, then… nothing for about a second and a half, and then it would take off like cheetah that’s been stung on the backside by a spider wasp***.

And this brings me to Bihar’s finest Doke Fusion, because it’s very similar to that Valiant’s accelerator.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the very first Doke Black Fusion nearly a decade ago, and it was a pretty good start. I was already familiar with the Rolling Thunder Oolong and the Silver Needle from the same estate – in fact the latter is my favourite tea of all time. And the first Black Fusion was good – a little one-dimensional, but a solid start. The 2014, however, was excellent, and I obtained many, many kilos of it, not to blend, not to sell, but to drink, to hoard, to share with good friends. In fact, when I had to get out of a country rather fast and had to leave a lot of tea behind, it got us through a very difficult personal time in 2014. I related this at the time.

I bought quite a lot of the 2015, and it was a small leap forward on the 2014, with increased depth and a nice malty edge.

But 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 all seemed to be very similar. It stopped accelerating.

Yesterday, I tried the 2020 and WHOOSH! it’s taken off like the aforementioned Valiant taking off like the aforementioned cheetah stung by the aforementioned spider wasp.

I did not taste this Doke Black Fusion in a delicate and professional way. I made some steaming mugs of it and drank it while binge-watching TV

It’s full-bodied (like the Valiant). It’s wide and deep (like the Valiant). It’s hard to miss (like the Valiant). It has a bracing delicacy spread across a storm of flavour (not really like the Valiant).  It’s brilliant with or without milk (I’m gonna have to let the Valiant analogy go).

Look, I love black tea. I love many whites, many greens, many oolongs, precisely no genmaichas or matchas and many flavoureds. But Black tea is where it is at. It’s what I blend best. It’s what I drink 75% of the time.

I drink it black and neat, but if someone puts sugar in it, I’ll drink it. If someone puts milk in it, I’ll drink it.

My favourite black tea of all time is from the Temi tea garden in Sikkim and has been for over twenty years.

But if Black Fusion keeps up this acceleration, it could be my favourite by next season.

* For my American friends who can’t ever call things related to cars by their correct names, boot = trunk

** For my American friends who can’t ever call things related to cars by their correct names, accelerator = “gas pedal”

*** if you don’t know what a spider wasp is, look it up and you won’t sleep for a week.

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