Ever heard of "Champagne of Teas"? If you're a tea fanatic like me, I'm sure it means something to you. For a tea to be called that, they need to come from the district of Darjeeling in West Bengal, India.
The 87 gardens in Darjeeling produce these world-famous "Champagne of Teas" that sometimes go for as high as $850 (£647) per kg. Produced in the foothills of Himalayas, Darjeeling Teas are the only teas to get protection from the Geographical Indication (GI) trademark. The elevation not only earns Darjeeling tea its protection but also provides a suitable condition for the tea plants to get a taste that is unique to Darjeeling.
Although Darjeeling only produces about 11,000 tons of tea in a year, it still makes about 1% of the total teas produces in India. While most of the tea gardens today have opted for a mechanised way of production and packaging, Darjeeling still holds on to the heritage and does it the "Orthodox" way. This means Darjeeling Teas are 100% handcrafted and are produced with an intense level of love and care.
Teas are one of the healthiest beverage in the world, especially if it's from Darjeeling. Although all types of teas are good for your health, drinking Darjeeling tea can greatly improve your health. From reducing the risk of cancer to antioxidants that remove free radicals, Darjeeling teas are nothing less than a life-giving elixir.
While the flavour of these teas widely depends on the flush, Darjeeling teas are widely known for its unique malty taste and fruity aroma. The second flush black teas from Darjeeling are known to be the best, but the first flush is equally good.
The caffeine content in Darjeeling teas can be around 50MG per 8-fluid-ounce cup. The caffeine in Darjeeling teas is a lot more than that of the Green Teas but it is still a lot less compared the Assam Teas.
Types of Darjeeling Tea
There are three main types of Darjeeling teas, namely,
- First Flush Darjeeling Tea
- Second Flush Darjeeling Tea and
- Third Flush Darjeeling Tea
There are however In-between flush teas and the Monsoon Flush teas. The quality and the taste of the teas also depend on the flush.
- Darjeeling first flush tea: The first flush teas of Darjeeling are mainly harvested during the spring season that comes after the winter dormancy. The tea leaves at this time of the year have a flowery accent and are bright and well-defined.
Due to the freshness and colour, these first flush teas are usually more expensive than the other flushes.
- Darjeeling second flush tea: Unlike the first flush teas, these second flush teas are a lot darker and have a strong flavour. Along with its amber colour, these second flush teas have a purple bloom and a fruity taste. A lot of tea connoisseurs around the world happen to compare the taste of the second flush to that of muscatel grape. This uncommon flavour is a result of a combination of a unique topography, weather and plant type.
- Darjeeling third flush tea: This flush when brewed results in a coppery coloured tea. This autumn Darjeeling leaves are a lot larger than those of other seasons. Teas from Darjeeling's third flush are also a bit lower in price than the first and the second.
Apart from the flushes, Darjeeling teas are also rated using a grading system. The grading system rates the teas considering the size and quality of the tea leaves. These Darjeeling teas are graded into four main types.
The highest quality tea leaves being the whole leave and the lowest being the dust. Fannings, on the other hand, is the smallest tea particles and are mostly used in teabags. Tea waste lefy by the teas are mainly the dust.