India Darjeeling Black Tea

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The Darjeeling region of India is located in a spectacular mountain setting in the Indian Himalaya. This region was settled by the British as a hill-station and spa in the 1800’s because of its ‘healthy air.’ By the mid 1800’s the English began to cultivate tea in the hills and valleys throughout the Darjeeling region, and English tea drinkers developed a passion for the taste of this tea.

Today Darjeeling tea is known as the ‘Champagne of Tea’ and it has loyal tea drinking followers worldwide. Among India’s diverse collection of fine teas it is known as ‘ the exotic one.’ It is beloved for its clarity of taste, invigorating aroma and smooth, crisp flavor. But Darjeeling teas vary quite a bit in style and flavor depending on the season in which they are plucked. Tea lovers should be familiar with a few elements of Darjeeling tea manufacture so that they can understand what they are purchasing and then determine what they like.

At Tea Trekker we offer several seasonal harvests from Darjeeling:

1st Flush Darjeeling (spring-plucked tea):
spicy, pleasantly astringent and can sometimes be ‘green’-ish in style (a.k.a. the European/German/Russian style) – we note this when it applies

2nd Flush Darjeeling (late spring/early summer-plucked tea):
smooth and rich in style with the characteristic Muscatel [raisin-y] flavor and aroma.

Autumnal Pluck Darjeeling (early autumn-plucked tea): for the late winter 2017 and throughout the 2018 tea-drinking season we have been pleased to be able to offer several ‘Autumnal‘ teas for the first time in many years. Plucked when cool weather returns, this minor crop offers an easy drinking, soft, mellow tea.

Sourenee 2013 experience07

2018 Darjeeling Notes:
Due to the continuing extreme drought conditions in the Himalaya, the Darjeeling 1st Flush early harvest was ‘varied’ in quality and volume again this year.  However, many of the tea gardens with whom we work have tea this year that is extremely excellent. Many tea harvests in the classic tea-growing areas are on a more ‘normal’ schedule in 2018 than they have been in years, both in quality and volume. So, although the 2018 harvest in the Himalaya (and some parts of China, too) started really early, the weather calmed, the rains increased, and the pace of growth stabilised, and so, while a bit delayed, the year has been producing outstanding tea that is definitely far better than expectations!

Tea Trekker sampled many 2018 1st Flush Darjeeling teas this spring. Working with gardens that are not as isolated or delayed by a lack of precipitation, we have been able to source and taste many 1st Flush teas that are representative of the finest teas manufactured in both the heart of the Darjeeling region and also the Himalaya in general.

Our offerings again this season will reflect our desire to source a broad selection of gardens without necessarily committing to a year’s worth of inventory of every estate’s tea. This was our method last year and it worked quite well. We are finding that our clientele is not as interested in locking into a flavor or garden style that they will drink for a year (or a lifetime!) as much as they are interested in choice and having a variety of gardens represented that can be tasted at different times throughout the year.

In general the teas from the Himalaya are showing a very high quality this season. In spite of the various weather difficulties again this season, we have been able to source teas from some of our favorite gardens, in all the traditional  styles, and at the quality level that we require. This search during our sourcing and tasting is what keeps our curiosity piqued, and our senses sharp.

Bob in particular here at Tea Trekker is very happy with the teas that he has tasted and sourced from the 2018 tea harvest.

From what started as a relatively early 1st Flush season, the harvest slowed considerably, so after consulting with our tea maker colleagues, we determined that several of our favorite 1st Flush teas that had been harvested at the tail end of the 1st Flush season were worthy of a short ‘resting’ period post-harvest, in their garden of origin. So several of them are just arriving now (in September!) – in some instances along with their 2nd Flush harvest ‘cousins’.
It is actually exciting to extend the 1st Flush season over a longer period of time because the tea benefits from being harvested a little bit later in the year in many of the gardens, and the short ‘resting’ period that is so common in China tea can improve the style of many Darjeeling teas (remember that many Darjeeling plantings are China Bush). As with all agricultural crops, not all plants, even in the same general location, mature at the same time!

We tasted samples of many 2nd Flush 2018 Darjeeling teas during August and have been quite pleased with the 2nd Flush teas from the 2018 harvest.

The bulk of the 2nd Flush Darjeeling teas will arrive to us for September.

A further, related note is that the tea-growing regions of both Nepal and Assam are expected to have spectacular tea-producing seasons again this year, so keep an eye on those Indian teas too.

lleaf2Black tea steeping instructions

lleaf2Protected Origin Status Granted to Darjeeling Tea

lleaf2New Tea, Rested Tea, and Aged Tea