Darjeeling 2019 1st Flush Selim Hill Estate ‘Imperial Spring’


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Black Tea


Selim Hill Estate
‘Imperial Spring’



Grade: orthodox manufacture – FTGFOP1 CH SPL
Cultivar: China tea bush varietal leaf
Oxidation: approximately 75% oxidation
Wither: very hard wither


Appearance: mixed shades of forest green, extra-large size leaf
Flavor: high-grade leaf with no bitterness. An old-school first flush, full-bodied and stylish. The flavor is filled with nuance – it has a lush softness and a buttery body that speaks to Darjeeling enthusiasts.
Aroma: it is fresh, deep, and clean
Liquor: clear medium amber liquor



Darjeeling District, West Bengal State, India
100% Pure, Un-blended Darjeeling tea

2019 1st Flush (late Feb)


1st Flush Darjeeling – February/March
2nd Flush Darjeeling – April/May


Spring is the peak time for new leaf growth as the tea bushes awaken from winter hibernation. These early-harvest, first-plucked Darjeelings are known as 1st Flush teas. This plucking season is followed by the harvest of 2nd Flush Darjeelings, which completes the annual spring harvest cycle.


Darjeeling tea is highly sought after worldwide for its smooth, rich muscatel flavor and fine bouquet. It is often referred to as the ‘Champagne’ of tea because of its elegance and finesse in the cup. The Darjeeling tea gardens are located in the Lesser Himalaya Range of West Bengal in Northern India. The flavor of Darjeeling tea is greatly influenced by the mist-shrouded environment of the tea gardens (which are scattered over the hills and valleys at 5,000- 6,700 feet in altitude) and the slow maturity of plant development in cool, high-altitude locations.


Supremely elegant and lively in the cup, 1st and 2nd Flush Darjeelings are among our most prized teas.


Use 2 teaspoons (2-3 grams) per 6 oz water
Steep 1 infusion at 2-3 minutes
Water temperature should be 185°F-195°F

– or, because this leaf is so much bulkier by weight than many traditional Darjeeling 1st Flush plucks:

Try this Steeping Tip:

When I was tasting my sample of this tea earlier this spring, I was experimenting with a larger measure and a shorter steep time, as it would be steeped in many parts of Asia. And also I was confirming its ability to be re-steeped.

This leaf is a bit bulkier than most 1st Flush Darjeelings, so by weight (2-3 grams) is a better way to measure than using a volume measure. 2 grams for a single steep, and 3 grams if intending to re-steep the leaf.

This tea does steep quite nicely using 4 tsps of leaf (close to 3 grams), but you need to significantly shorten the time and also expect to re-steep the leaf. So a variant steeping technique to the one above (the one on the label) can be to steep the leaf for a 90 seconds first steep and a 2 – 3 min (+/-) steep for the second steeping, as many Asians do.

However if you are steeping ‘English style’, then the 2 tsp measure and appropriate time shown above works better for a single 2-3 minute (or longer) steeping.

And don’t hesitate to do something different either, as these are recommendations, not chemistry like baking an angel food cake!


Our goal again this year regarding 1st Flush Darjeeling teas has been to procure more variety and less depth than we formerly offered ‘back in the old days’. The weather seemed to agree and has helped to produce many delicious teas for 2019. We will have Darjeeling teas with a softer, less astringent flavor profile, and also ones in the brisk, more modern ‘European’ (green) style. So whatever style you prefer – or if you enjoy them all – this is a great year for tea, and Darjeeling in particular. The more normal amount of rainfall has increased the moisture in the leaf which leads to less breakage and a deeper flavor and better keeping potential. Also the teas will likely ‘age’ well and increase in flavor rather than diminish over the next 10-15 months.

Bob selected Tea Trekker’s 1st Flush Darjeeling teas for 2019 at pretty much the normal time of the spring, and those deliveries arrived by air courier. Replacement inventory and new additions were added during the season, and the 2nd Flush teas have now arrived!

Smooth, smooth, smooth…

This is a delicious Darjeeling from Selim Hill Estate and it is an easy-drinker. We have become quite fond of the teas from this garden and recommend the garden as a producer of classic Darjeeling teas. Teas from Selim Hill are for the tea enthusiast who appreciates the style and vitality of a 1st Flush Darjeeling but prefers simplicity, lack of astringency and the absence of finicky-ness when steeping.

We consider it an ‘old-fashioned’ Darjeeling, that is, one that does not have the ‘biting’ green taste that so many 1st Flush Darjeeling teas have today. What does it have instead? It has complexity and depth of flavor. The flavor is filled with nuance – it has a lush softness and a buttery body that speaks to Darjeeling enthusiasts. There is also a a ittle ripe melon and pear in the taste.

The leaf is a tweedy mix of diverse earth colors on a base field of forest green . This shows how the leaf and the tips have each responded differently to the full and complete oxidation during manufacture.

This particular lot is an exceptionally beautiful tea with long, hand-rolled leaves. The bright cup and intense aroma is possibly a ‘perfect’ 1st Flush Darjeeling. We think that this is one of the best examples of a well-rolled tea that we have received in many years.

When first examining the dry leaf, this tea has a gentle woodsiness and mossy element, which is most intriguing and desirable. We were impressed by the intense aromatic quality of both the dry leaf and the tea liquor. When the leaf is wet during steeping that woodsiness vanishes and is replaced with a soft aroma and confident Darjeeling presence. When we returned to re-steep the leaf or to just observe the leaf after a bit of time had passed since the tea was steeped, the leaf had a quite pleasant background aroma. This is an indicator of a clean, deep style. The leaf is extremely long and evenly cut, has little of the modern ‘green’ that previews sharpness, and shows itself long and open when steeped. The liquor steeps to a clear medium amber. We could drink this tea all day!

Selim Hill teas are organic and the gardens feature extensive plantings of old China bush tea varietals, which we always look for. These tea bushes, combined with the terroir of Darjeeling, gives a clarity of flavor and a pure, Darjeeling taste.

Selim Hill’s organic tea gardens are located in the Kurseong area of the Darjeeling district. They lie to the east of the Rohini Tea Garden and just south of the Giddapahar Tea Estate, two of our other favorite Darjeelings. The location of the estate is considered mid-level, and the gardens are perched on a hilly slope with varying elevations that rise up to some 3,500 ft and faces the mountain on its north.. It is split into upper and lower segments and includes four villages. There are over 200 workers employed in the garden. Selim Hill was established in 1870.

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