With 87 tea estates, also called the “tea gardens” covering more than 17,500 hectares of land and producing approximately 10 million kilogram of tea per year, Darjeeling has earned the label to produce the world famous “Darjeeling Tea”. Each of these estates are known to produce teas with different characteristics of delicate taste and aroma, unparalleled to any part of the world. The Tea Industry contributes to the major share of city’s economy, fetching employment to more than 50% of the total population of the city as well.
In the hills of Darjeeling, tea leaves are plucked four times a year, and sometimes “in betweens” as well. Each of these pickings is called a “flush,” and the flavors and aromas of each flush are different from each other.
Often termed as Spring Flush, this is the first flush of the year, that takes place between the end of February and the end of April. The color of the tea is light and clear with bright liquor because it is less oxidized than other flushes and the leaves have a floral aroma, with a lively character. These first flushes are produced in less quantity, and thus generally are more expensive than any other flushes.
Often termed as Summer Flush, this is the second as well as the biggest flush of the year, that takes place from mid-May to June, during the warm season before the rains. Tea produced in this flush is of great quality, with small dark brown color and strong in flavor in contrast to the first flush. This flush is special as it brings the unique muscatel flavor, Darjeeling is known for as no other part of the world. According to the research, this unique muscatel flavor is caused due to the combination of weather, topography and plantation conditions of the city.
Monsoon Flush: Visit a tea estate
This is the third flush of the year, that takes place between July and September, tea harvested under heat and the heavy rains of the monsoon. The rainy season results in less sunlight, so even though the tea leaves grow as usual, the flavor is not as strong and the leaves in these conditions are less withered and more oxidized than teas from the other flushes. Usually, much cheaper than the first two pickings, this type is less preferred by the people, and thus these monsoon flushes are more suited for blending with other strong spices for desired taste and odour
This is the fourth and final harvest before the tea plants are left for the winter season. It takes pace after the rainy season, from October to mid-November. The tea from this flush is considered full-bodied, stronger overflowing and soothing in taste and odour, with less floral notes, sometimes having flavor like the ripe fruits with nutty or woody texture.
Different types of Darjeeling Tea
The Black tea is more oxidized than any other type, may it be the oolong, green, or white tea. It is also stronger in flavour than all of these less oxidized teas and retains its flavour for several years. It is probably the most popular type of tea, accounting for more than 90% of the tea consumption in the western world. And the Darjeeling Black Tea is considered one of the best black teas not only in India but all over the world, containing a moderate to high amount of caffeine.
The main benefits of black tea is its high content of flavonoids, which is very good for one’s heart as it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering the cholesterol and blood sugar levels, also backing up against diabetes.
Tea grown in the Darjeeling hills, comes from the small-leaved tea plant camellia sinensis, and is considered the best Indian tea across the world. The Green tea, has rapidly gained a great extent of popularity in the western world due to its health benefits. For a long time, Darjeeling was known mainly for the black tea, but gradually started producing other types and green tea is one of the mostly produced ones in today’s date. Its aroma and the well-known health benefits make green tea appealing to the vast crowd.
The main benefits of Darjeeling green tea packed with polyphenols and antioxidants, makes it very healthy. The ‘Weight Loss tea’ is known for its mental health improvement, better looking skin, preventing type 2 diabetes, maintaining a healthy heart and low cholesterol effects as well.
Also known as semi-fermented, the Oolong Tea is an exquisite blend of Indian and Chinese flavours. It has the qualities of both black as well as green tea. Naturally sweet and bold in flavor, character as well as aroma, Oolong tea is very rare and hard to find as the perfectly right conditions have to be met to produce this high quality tea and very few Darjeeling gardens meet these conditions and produce it.
Oolong tea is a perfect combination of caffeine-antioxidant content and is enriched by the high quantity of vitamins and minerals. Thus, it offers many health benefits, such as boosting the immune system, acting as a weight loss beverage, aiding the digestive system, improving the heart and skin health and many more.
The most elegant, White Tea has been produced in country since mid-nineteenth century. This tea is mostly picked in the first flush, from late February/early March to mid-April, producing delicate characterised tea, and sometimes in the second flush, from late May to June, thus, producing the refreshing muscatel flavored one.
Finely selected, plucked and processed results in the rich quality with lavish characteristics and benefits. The benefits include improving immune system, promoting body fat loss, helping in reducing cardiovascular diseases and rejuvenating body and mind.