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): We are pleased to be able to offer a vintage  ‘Autumnal‘ tea for the first time in many years. Plucked when cool weather returns, this minor crop offers an easy drinking, soft, mellow tea. We tasted many 2019 late-harvest teas in hopes that this year would offer a premium autumnal harvest for all of us to enjoy in 2020, and we sourced a fabulous one from our friends at Giddapahar Tea Estate.

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 then calmed, the rains 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 is finished sampling the 2019 1st Flush Darjeeling teas this year, but two of them will be returning with fresh supply in Nov of 2019. 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. Our 2nd Flush Darjeeling teas are mostly in stock now, or en route to us, and we are excited about them! The full collection of 2nd Flush teas will be completely available as of Thanksgiving.

And then there will be the sole Autumnal from Giddapahar Tea Estate in late Nov or early Dec.

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 harvests. In general the teas from the Himalaya are showing a very high quality (and incredible depth of flavor) this season.

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 will continue to do so well into 2020, so don’t miss those special teas (such as the Kanchaan View!).

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. There are three Autumnal Harvest Assam black teas for the winter 2019/2020 too.

lleaf2Black tea steeping instructions

lleaf2Protected Origin Status Granted to Darjeeling Tea

lleaf2New Tea, Rested Tea, and Aged Tea