So here we are, enjoying a cup of Darjeeling tea, my very latest obsession.
I consider tea drinking as the height of human civilisation – more or less. Darjeeling being one of my favourites, it’s very much like wine, if you find a ‘good’ year, (or flush as the case may be – count yourself fortunate and enjoy. Yoga for our taste buds.
Notes on drinking Darjeeling
How to pair Darjeeling
Black Darjeeling will make Melted cheese sandwiches taste delicious! Pairs well with poultry dishes, chicken, duck or Turkey slices. The taste of a simple Cake, butter biscuit and pastry can also be enhanced – making it an ideal afternoon tea choice.
Darjeeling is grown in India, mostly in the region of Darjeeling, though there are some Nepalese Darjeelings also very good), the leaves are actually Chinese. “Most tea plants in Darjeeling are of the smaller leaf Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, rather than the larger leaf var. assamica, more commonly grown throughout the rest of India,” explains Jim Schreiber, a tea and beverage mastermind.
Most Darjeelings are classified as black teas, but usually are less oxidized than ‘normal’ black tea. I find the the flavour is lighter and less astringent than most black tea, but so much more satisfying and complex than most greens
‘Darjeeling First Flush Tea – The colour of tea is light, clear and bright. The leaves have floral scent.
Darjeeling Second Flush Tea – The tea has darker colour and strong flavour in contrast to first flush teas. (Still much lighter than ‘average’ black tea. Second Flush teas are noted for their ‘unique muscat grape notes’ and are my top choice.
Darjeeling Third Flush Tea – The tea colour is dark or coppery and texture is full bodied but it has a lighter flavour. Autumn Darjeeling has a delicate as well as a sparkling character.’
What is a tea flush?
Tea flush refers to the tea growing seasons in Darjeeling.
First Flush from mid-March to May
Second Flush from June to mid-August
Third Flush (Autumn Flush) from October to November
To make things more complicated, there are two minor flushes as well:
In-Between Flush for two weeks in-between the first and second flushes
Rains/Monsoon Flush between the second and third flushes during the month of September
(time periods are not set in stone- they are dependant on rainfall and weather patterns in Darjeeling. For example I read that ‘Excess rainfall earlier than expected can reduce the timeline of second flush while increasing the rain flush by few weeks and vice versa.’
First or second flush?
First flush teas have brighter colour and are described as ‘lively’. They are produced in limited quantity, so demand outstrips the supply making them more expensive.
My personal preference is for second flush. What’s yours?
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