Tea Trekker’s 2020 2nd Flush Darjeeling tea from the Upper Fagu Tea Estate was plucked this year at the classic time for this high-altitude sub-section of the Darjeeling ‘Hills”: mid-July. So this year it is chronologically a perfect example of the genre of specialty, late-spring-plucked black tea. Due to its limited production, the leaf was plucked by the ‘first string’ tea workers, who have been busy this year carefully harvesting the premium crop of leaf that will be the basis of the season’s (therefore the year’s) economy for the estate. This leaf is the perfect follow-up to the excellent 1st Flush tea that was manufactured by the tea specialists of Upper Fagu in March of this year.
The aroma is slightly dry, and mostly brisk, with hints of fresh hay, the lighter culinary herbs, and just a hint of tomato stem. Its flavor is straightforward and refreshing, but bold on the palate, and it can be somewhat astringent if steeped too long. It is in many ways a quintessential late-season 2nd Flush Darjeeling: flavorful and deeply full-bodied, with the rich, muscatel flavor for which 2nd Flush Darjeeling teas are famous. There are influences of nut flavors, especially filberts and brazil nut, stalk celery, roasted root vegetables, and it has a creamy body like its earlier 1st Flush ‘sister’. There is a smoothness and rich character to the steeped tea that all premium 2nd Flush Darjeeling teas aspire to but do not all achieve. It is a truly delicious addition to our selection of teas for 2020/2021!
Our 2020 Upper Fagu Tea Estate 2nd Flush Darjeeling selection is from a section of the tea garden that offers a small proportion of classic Darjeeling-developed cultivar tea plants. The yield from this section is low but the tea has excellent flavor. The classic Darjeeling tea season’s weather conditions bring out the best flavor from these tea bushes from the spring until well into the autumn. These bushes contribute remarkable depth of flavor to the overall style of the Upper Fagu 2nd Flush tea’s preparation.
The somewhat remote Upper Fagu Tea Estate, like its few neighbors, is quite small – especially for a Darjeeling tea estate – but is very highly regarded for its premium leaf.
The estate produces black tea in the classic, more traditional style of Darjeeling.
Forest reserves, rivers and cool Himalaya air contribute to the unique taste of Darjeeling teas that originate in the Teesta Valley, the most northeasterly tea-growing valley of the officially-designated region of Darjeeling. The general altitude in this area is around 3000 feet. This region sits northeast of the majority of the other gardens of the ‘official’ Darjeeling region and just south of Sikkim. We are always amazed that this area is so far west of Lhasa. When we were in Xigaze years ago we could have traveled due south and been in Darjeeling quite directly, by following the western frontier of Bhutan.
Some of the other gardens in this sub-region, from which we have had delicious tea, are Glenburn, Hillton, Namring, Snowview, Runglee Rungliot, and Selimbong. We hope to taste several teas from this valley in Darjeeling East this year, as they tend to be quite good. It seems that the lack of harvesting in 2017 (due to the general strike) served this area well, while it was not a good influence in most of the other sub-regions of Darjeeling.