2020 Darjeeling 2020 1st Flush Giddapahar Tea Estate black tea

Darjeeling 2020 1st Flush Giddapahar Tea Estate


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Black Tea


Giddapahar Tea Estate
2020 early 1st Flush

SFTGFOP 1 CH Special
Cultivar: 100% China bush
Oxidation: approximately 75% oxidation
Wither: medium wither


Appearance: the leaf is a tweedy mix of diverse colors on a base field of forest brown. This shows how the leaf and the tips have responded to oxidation during manufacture. This particular ‘Lot’ is well-cut and evenly-sized into medium-length, hand-rolled tips and leaves.
Flavor: a bright first flush taste in the ‘contemporary’ Darjeeling 1st Flush style, but showing the ‘muscatel’ character of a ‘traditional’ 1st Flush as well. A perfect bridge of styles, without astringency or assertiveness, extremely full-bodied
Aroma: clean, pure, intense aromatic qualities both in the dry and wet leaf
Liquor: deep golden-amber hued liquor



Darjeeling District, West Bengal State, India
100% Pure, Un-blended Darjeeling Tea
High-grade leaf from a limited, early spring production

2020 1st Flush (early March)

This tea was harvested at a very early point in the 1st Flush plucking season in Darjeeling this year, and it is a special, limited-production spring tea. This tea was also manufactured in a specific, small lot, which are usually sold to the same tea specialists, such as Tea Trekker, every year.


1st Flush Darjeeling – traditionally February/March
2nd Flush Darjeeling – traditionally 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 traditional annual spring harvest cycle.

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


Steeping Tip:


As this tea is made from 100% china bush varietal leaf, it is easy to over-steep. Try steeping it twice, first for 90 seconds and then again for 2-3 minutes. The ‘big’ mouthfeel will surprise you – especially for such an early-harvest leaf.

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 2020. 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 several of Tea Trekker’s 1st Flush Darjeeling teas for 2020 at pretty much the normal time in the early spring; however in many cases delivery of those shipments could not be made by air courier until the travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic were lifted by the Indian govt. Then in most regions the monsoonal floods came in before the lockdown was lifted, so the tea ‘sat’ in various locations in India until it could be shipped, in a few instances being caught up again in yet another pandemic lock-down before finally being released. But they finally were able to be en route in late July and started to arrive in Aug … and we expect more deliveries to continue through Sept, about as late as we have ever seen in 40 years of sourcing Darjeeling tea.

The good news is that the 2nd Flush teas this year should be exquisite and ‘keep’ really well! They will just be very late to arrive…

We suggest that you take a big, deep whiff of the aroma of the dry leaf of this exquisite, first-of-the-early-season, 1st Flush Darjeeling.

Savor the fresh, vigorous fragance. This is the essence of the overwhelming verdant aroma that envelops a tea garden or tea factory during the spring cropping season. It is an aroma that is at once intoxicating and calming. Then, give the tea a short steep and let the taste of the tea liquor fill your mouth with clean, smooth, rich flavors – not at all what we might expect from a contemporary Darjeeling tea.

This seasonal tea from this season’s earliest spring pluck at Giddapahar Tea Estate is for those who prefer that their Darjeeling tea has a rich, mouth-filling, smooth-around-the-edges, and ‘traditional’ style, with just a hint of the contemporary ‘green-ish’, or German-style, bright taste. This style, the green-ish style that is a result of a long wither and short oxidation is usually much more pungent than our 2020 Giddapahar 1st Flush tea. While this style has seemed so prevalent recently, especially in a 1st Flush offering, it is nice to see a variety of flavor profiles still being manufactured. We appreciate the brisk, ‘European or Russian’ style manufacture that has varying percentages of non-oxidized leaf in its mix; so it is wonderful that some gardens are manufacturing a finished leaf that bridges the more traditional-style Darjeeling with the contemporary style. We don’t think that we have tasted a Darjeeling from this early in the season with this much depth of flavor in several decades!

So, again this year, the Giddapahar Tea Estate 1st Flush teas are ‘wowing’ us from the first sip.

Giddapahar Tea Estate is one of Bob’s all-time favorite Darjeeling gardens. Year-in and year-out, their stylish leaf yields mouth-filling fresh, vibrant flavor in the cup. This, coupled with crisp high altitude briskness, is the measure of a stunning 1st Flush Darjeeling tea.

When we taste the new-harvest Darjeelings every spring, offerings from the gardens of Giddapahar Tea Estate are always among our favorites.

Giddapahar Tea Estate is located in the most prestigious heart of the Kurseong Valley. (Giddapahar is translated from Nepali to mean Eagles’ Cliff). The family-owned Giddapahar Tea Estate is a relatively small area of 109 hectares (269 acres). The gardens are poised at an average altitude of 4,800 feet and their orientation offers an incredible view of the Himalaya. The garden was first developed in 1881 and has been producing fine tea continuously. Giddapahar Tea Estate is currently owned by fourth generation Surendra Nath Singh and his brother.

Giddapahar is among the tea estates with gardens that still produce tea from older plantings of China bush tea varietals and that have embraced its most highly-regarded offshoot, the AV2 cultivar. We feel that leaf from both of these tea bushes provide body and richness to the mouth-feel of a fine Darjeeling, so we always look for these ‘gems’ from the few gardens that still maintain their old China bush stock or offer an AV-2 harvest.

This early, first-of-the-season 1st Flush from Giddapahar Tea Estate is of China bush leaf, but not 100% AV-2, and we are extremely honored to have it. As soon as we tasted it we were taken back at least 20 years, to a day when Darjeeling tea truly was the ‘Queen of Tea’, a moniker that it has in some ways lost in the last decade or so. We see that reputation coming back quickly, as many current gardens’ tea makers return to techniques that yield classic flavors and style.

The dry leaf is a perfectly lovely, well-rolled but moderately leafy, classic 1st Flush tea. The leaf is a tweedy mix of diverse earth colors on a base field of forest brown . This shows how the leaf and the tips have each responded differently to the oxidation necessary during manufacture.

This particular lot is a beautiful tea with medium-length, hand-rolled tips and 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 hand-rolled tea from Giddapahar Tea Estate that we have ever received.

The amount of tip in the leaf gives a buoyancy to the flavor that counterpoints its woodsiness and mossy elements by offering a gentle ‘snap’ in the front of the mouth. Overall, its style is vibrant and clear and utterly delicious. This Giddapahar Tea Estate 2020 1st Flush tea is well-made, elegant and has a long, lovely, bright, but muscatel finish.

This leaf is drinking youthfully now (and we like it this way) , and should continue to drink well for at least another 18 months.

Always in short supply because of the small size of this garden’s output, we moved quickly to ensure that we would be able to procure a portion of this season’s production for our tea enthusiast customers. We are very happy to offer this elegant tea.