India Darjeeling Black Tea

bl-ind_darj

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 were 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. These 2017 & 2018 teas are all sold out now and so we look forward to tasting any 2019 late-harvest teas in hopes that this year will offer a premium autumnal harvest for all of us to enjoy for several months in early 2020.

Sourenee 2013 experience07

2019 Darjeeling Notes:
The continuing extreme drought conditions in the Himalaya have finally released their grip on agriculture in the region, so the Darjeeling 1st Flush early harvest was significantly improved in quality and volume this year.
Many of the tea gardens with whom we work have tea this year that is extremely excellent, and the harvest began almost a month earlier than ‘normal’. Many tea harvests in the classic tea-growing areas are on a more ‘regular’ schedule in 2019 than they have been in years. So, although the 2019 harvest in the Himalaya (and some parts of China, too) started really early, the weather has calmed, the rains have increased, and the pace of growth stabilised. The leaf this year has been producing outstanding tea that is definitely better than it has been in many years!

Tea Trekker may sample a few more 2019 1st Flush Darjeeling teas this year, but most of our sourcing has been completed – so a few new teas will definitely appear before the phase down to the 2020 harvest. Working with many of our ‘regular’ gardens, we have been able to taste and source a great assortment of excellent 1st Flush teas this season, all representative of the finest teas manufactured in the heart of the officially-registered Darjeeling region. We have tea from a host of favorite gardens, several returnees from years past, and a newbie or two. It is always instructive and enlightening to discover both the similarities and differences in each estate’s teas from one year to the next; and to have the opportunity to decide which to source in order to offer a diverse and yet cohesive selection of each season’s Darjeeling teas. This search during our tasting and sourcing is what keeps our curiosity piqued, and our senses sharp.

We have basically finished the tastings for our 2nd Flush selection also, and time is on our side given this second season’s early start and its expected long season. Our 2nd Flush Darjeeling teas are en route to us now, and we can’t wait to receive them! The majority of 2nd Flush teas will not arrive until late July and well into August.

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 has been our methodology the last several years and it has been working 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.

Bob in particular here at Tea Trekker is very happy with the teas that he has tasted and sourced from the 2019 tea harvest. In general the teas from the Himalaya are showing a very high quality (and incredible depth of flavor) this season.

He will be quite busy tasting and editing his choices further. The period of late April into May was extremely fruitful…and as the season moves on into the 2nd Flush period (and much later the Autumnals) we are anticipating even more first-rate teas this year.

We tasted samples of many 2nd Flush 2018 Darjeeling teas during August of 2018 and have been quite pleased with the 2nd Flush teas from the 2018 harvest. They are all drinking well still, and are a treat to have until the 2019 season’s 2nd Flush teas arrive later this year (perhaps July?).

A further, related note is that the tea-growing regions of both Nepal and Assam are having spectacular tea-producing seasons again this year, so keep an eye on those Indian teas too. We have recent arrivals from Nepal in particular that are stunning, and there are more on the way.

lleaf2Black tea steeping instructions

lleaf2Protected Origin Status Granted to Darjeeling Tea

lleaf2New Tea, Rested Tea, and Aged Tea