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’, reflecting its overall style and quality, 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 one of our 1st Flush teas belongs to this sub-category.

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): Plucked when cool weather returns, this minor crop offers an easy drinking, soft, mellow tea. We have one of these only occasionally, so they are worth keeping an eye out for.

Sourenee 2013 experience07

2020 Darjeeling Notes:
November 12, 2020 
The Darjeeling  early harvest teas are excellent in quality again this year.

The Darjeeling 1st Flush harvest was proceeding normally but then needed to go on hiatus for a brief period because most of the Himalaya was under temporary lockdown (both for tea garden work and also both domestic and international flights). Our 1st Flush selection has been determined for this season and we have now received most of our expected supply.

We had hoped that our 2nd Flush tea selections would arrive in late November, very late but better late than never! As of mid-November; however, there are further delays in transport while the region celebrates the Diwali Festival, and so now it will be into December until our shipments will arrive…and possibly not in time for us to ship them to you for Christmas. So there is something else to look forward to in 2021! They are very good (we have tasted them several times) and our selection will be exceptional, including one Autumnal Pluck again this season.

A TIP:
It is very likely that the tea ‘lots’ from the gardens from whom we receive tea will change more during the ‘tea year’ (June 2020 to May 2021) than in many years, so if you find a tea that you really like, it might be wise to purchase a modest amount of it while we have it (without hoarding, of course!). We will make every effort to have plenty of tea this year, especially the 2nd Flush teas, which will likely be the best of the season due to the hiatus in plucking during the spring. Only time will tell, but that is part of the fun of tea…

We find it 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 tea from each new season’s Darjeeling tea offerings. This search during our tasting and sourcing is what keeps our curiosity piqued, and our senses sharp.

Our offerings again this season will reflect our desire to source from a broad selection of gardens without necessarily committing to a year’s worth of inventory from every estate from which we source tea. (Many gardens will have reduced output too, so there will be some instances in which we simply will not be able to source as much quantity as we might like).

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. (see TIP, above)

Bob in particular here at Tea Trekker was very happy with the teas that he tasted and sourced from both the 2019 & 2020 tea harvests (both quirky in their unique ways!). In general the teas from the Himalaya are showing a very high quality (and incredible depth of flavor) these days. Nepal, Darjeeling, and Assam are really showing some wonderful teas, and we are happily sourcing them for all the Tea Trekkers of the world!!

lleaf2Black tea steeping instructions

lleaf2Protected Origin Status Granted to Darjeeling Tea

lleaf2New Tea, Rested Tea, and Aged Tea