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 the ‘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 called 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 two seasonal harvests from Darjeeling:

1st Flush Darjeeling (spring plucked tea: spicy, pleasantly astringent and can be ‘green’ish in style)
2nd Flush Darjeeling (late spring/early summer plucking: smooth and rich in style with the characteristic Muscatel [raisin-y] flavor and aroma).

These seasonal teas vary significantly in style even when manufactured by the same tea garden. When available, we like to feature an Autumnal Darjeeling as well. Plucked when cool weather returns, this minor crop offers an easy drinking, soft, mellow tea.

Sourenee 2013 experience07

2017 Darjeeling Notes:
Due to the continuing extreme drought conditions in the Himalaya, the Darjeeling 1st Flush harvest was late again this year.  Many tea harvests world-wide are behind their normal schedule in 2017, but the 2017 harvest in the Himalaya and most of China produced outstanding teas that were definitely worth the wait!

Tea Trekker sampled quite a few 2017 1st Flush Darjeeling teas this spring. Working with the gardens that were not as isolated or delayed by the labor strife, we were able to source and taste many 1st Flush teas that had been plucked and manufactured prior to the strike in the Darjeeling region.

In general the teas from the Himalaya are high quality this season, although many of the early ones were the big leafy green-style plucks that are not as popular with Tea Trekker’s clientele as the traditional styles of Darjeeling are. In spite of the various difficulties again this season, we were able to source teas from some of our favorite gardens in all the styles at the quality level that we require. We did find some real gems that were either already manufactured and in the warehouse or were able to be brought out even considering the labor strife.

We do anticipate that the workers and the owners will be able to more permanently resolve the long-standing issues that periodically divide them and that the several political pressures that have also come to bear in this region will come to a good conclusion. We are pleased that everyone is talking and that for now there is a ‘cooling-off’ period in place.

The 2nd Flush harvest was more complicated in that the gardens were for the most part not being tended well this spring and no one was quite certain exactly who was going to be plucking the leaf and/or doing any tea manufacture. But there was resolution eventually (at least for part of the on-going issues) so the harvest, while late, was partially successful. Quantities are limited, but they always are, so we needed to ack quickly to secure some of the best 2nd Flush teas that were ultimately on offer.

Bob in particular here at Tea Trekker is very happy with the 2nd Flush harvest. Due to its delay, it fell just at the end of the ‘normal’ window for 2nd Flush teas. They have been quite popular, with many customers ordering small amounts to try and then re-ordering the ones that they like best for their supply for the year.

As of mid-autumn (late October into early November) we are still receiving fantastic 2nd Flush Darjeelings and a new infusion of 1st Flush teas that we wanted earlier but could not procur at the normal time.

If you are looking for a clean, elegant Himalaya black tea with the body of a 2nd Flush Darjeeling tea to drink in addition to the garden-specific Darjeeling Estate teas, we would recommend our new 2017 Nepal High Himalaya Hand-Rolled Tips black tea.

A further, related note is that the tea-growing regions of both Nepal and Assam had spectacular seasons this year and are well worth keeping an eye on throughout the winter tea drinking season.

lleaf2Black tea steeping instructions

lleaf2Protected Origin Status Granted to Darjeeling Tea

lleaf2New Tea, Rested Tea, and Aged Tea