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Black Tea

The Champagne of Teas: Darjeeling Tea

October 14, 2021

About Darjeeling Tea

Darjeeling tea is an incredible and complex tea. Grown in the Darjeeling region of West Bengal, India, it is unlike any other tea. With its unique natural flavor of Muscatel, it cannot be replicated anywhere else! Just as the word ‘Champagne’ signifies sparkling wines that come from the Champagne region of France, in the world of tea the word ‘Darjeeling’ denotes tea from the district of Darjeeling located high in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. There are 87 “tea-gardens” in this tiny region that create the tea equivalent of an appellation of French wine. The sub-tropical, high altitude conditions, the slightly acidic soil and the climate that alternates between sunny to frequent cloudy periods, all contribute to the unique taste of the tea in this area. Another reason Darjeeling Tea is considered the champagne of tea is because of its distinct aroma and taste of muscatel and floral notes, along with hints of stone fruit.

Darjeeling Tea Flushes

From left to right: First Flush, Second Flush and Third Flush

Darjeeling tea has three main flushes. What is a flush? A flush, simply put, is when the tea plants grow new leaves after a dormant period. Like most plants, Darjeeling tea goes through phases of growth and dormancy. 

The first flush:

This is the first growth after dormancy. These are usually harvested from the end of February to mid April. This stages goes by “Spring Flush” or “Easter Flush”. This is typically the best flush of the growing season as the leaves are still tender and said to contain the most antioxidants. This flush of Darjeeling tea also has the shortest shelf life; a few months at most. 

The second flush:

The second flush happens after the dormant stage following the first harvest. These tea leaves are picked from late May to mid June and produce an amazing, well rounded, mature and fruity flavor. This round of tea produces a flavor that pairs perfectly with afternoon tea snacks like scones and tea sandwiches. This flush is controversial to tea drinkers to where some say it is the lowest quality flush and to some, it is all they drink!

The third flush:

The third flush is referred to as the “Autumn Flush”. This flush has large leaves that are dark in color. Careful tending of the garden after the Second Flush is a must to prepare for this flush. Weeding is essential as is a good fertilizing since the tea plants will do most of their growth during Autumn. The leaves produce a very dark leaf that steeps up a full-bodied and naturally fruity flavored tea. This flush yields a nice round taste, quite suitable as a breakfast tea and stronger than the Second Flush.

Preparing Darjeeling Tea

What is the best way to prepare Darjeeling Tea?

Darjeeling tea falls under the black tea category. Darjeeling should be made with water brought to a rolling boil (205-212° F). Using one rounded teaspoon of loose tea for each cup required. Darjeeling should be steeped for 3 minutes. Once the ideal brewing time has been reached, the leaves should be removed to prevent further steeping. 

Darjeeling tea is best enjoyed in the morning or early afternoon since it does have caffeine. 

Decant and enjoy!

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