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Darjeeling Tea

Darjeeling Tea - The wonderful history of Darjeeling Tea cultivated from the best tea estates and gardens in India

Like other true teas, the Darjeeling tea comes from a variant of the Camellia sinensis plant. The Tea Board of India confirms that the Darjeeling tea is made in the hills of the Sadar Subdivision of the Kalimpong district and the Kurseong Subdivision of the Darjeeling district in West Bengal.

This tea's name was derived from a place known as the Darjeeling region. Darjeeling tea was first planted in 1841 by Archibald Campbell from the East India Company. He was the pioneer in the cultivation of Darjeeling tea. During the mid-1800s, the British looked for other kinds of var. sinensis tea apart from its Chinese variety and then the newly discovered Assam tea. Campbell got hold of his tea seeds from the Kumaun Himalayan kingdom, where the Chinese sinensis variant was nurtured. He went to different locations within West Bengal to plant the sinensis and assamica tea types. Campbell looked for experimental tea gardens where this tea thrives and to know the quality of tea plants grown in those areas. Campbell's quest resulted in several of tea gardens where his seeds grew and the tea leaves were processed. The Makaibari Tea Estate is one of those spots he planted the seeds and has become Darjeeling's first factory in the region's tea industry to process withering and oxidation so finished teas could survive the long itinerary from West Bengal to English soil. Campbell's experimentation on the seeds shows that some sinensis tea plants are recommended for higher elevations, while assamica loves to grow in warmer and wetter environments.  

The practices involved in the agriculture of Darjeeling tea changed immediately after the Indian Independence from the British Empire in 1947. The British started selling their shares in the tea gardens to the locals. The Tea Act of 1953 set the jurisdiction of the industry of tea-growing, harvesting, and processing under the regulation of the Tea Board of India. The Tea Board of India is a state agency of the Indian Government to promote the tea industry through cultivation, processing, and local and export trading of tea from India's tea plantations.    

What does Darjeeling tea taste like? Know its various tea profiles according to the time of harvest

Darjeeling tea has a lot of surprising flavors to offer. Its tasty profiles range from floral, vegetal, fruity, citrusy, and wine-like similar to muscat. Although the leaves are from the Chinese Camellia sinensis variant, Darjeeling tea's flavorful essence relies on the soil, climate, and altitude it is grown. This tea bears aromatic compounds, dominantly a soft flowery scent that is captivating to miss. Explore this world's finest black tea with the different harvest periods contributing to its intricate brew.

Love at first flush

Darjeeling tea is popularized as the Champagne of Teas due to its inviting aroma and flavor. Its profile is one the finest and highest grade tea the world has ever enjoyed, mainly because it comes from the first flush of tea leaves gathered for processing. First flush Darjeeling tea is the earliest harvest of the year, having the tea leaves plucked in March and April when the first spring rains fall on the foothills of the Himalayas. This change of weather turns the tea gardens into a radiant green color. 

Another aspect of Darjeeling tea's finest tea leaves is the tea estate or gardens where they grow. This tea grows slowly and tends to have higher amounts of amino acids when cultivated in soil located at higher altitudes. The unmistakable sweetness of Darjeeling tea is experienced from the tea leaves harvested from these areas. Darjeeling tea from the first flush produces a light-colored liquid and a fine floral taste with mild astringency. Take Taylors of Harrogate's Afternoon Darjeeling Tea as a reference.

The complexity of the second flush

This tea produces a second flush between May and June when a little warmth is present in the later part of spring and before the region envelops in heavy monsoon rains. The second flush is known as the second harvest in the same year. During this time, the tea leaves had matured, releasing complex flavors through fruity notes in the infusion and the popular muscatel taste of Darjeeling tea. One can see and taste the richness of the brew's color and body. Try Margaret's Hope Darjeeling Tea in sample size, loose-leaf, and tea bags to savor the second flush's irresistible flavor.

Darjeeling summer tea

Darjeeling tea plants work almost all year round to provide a delectable infusion with a strong brew and a coppery feel. This particular summer flush happens by picking Darjeeling tea leaves during the months of July to September. The leaves in this season are a little bigger, releasing a musky spice flavor with hints of sweetness into your cup. Darjeeling tea from a summer flush is also called the Rains tea and is used to complement most tea blends.

Autumnal Darjeeling tea

Tea leaves plucked during October and November give the Darjeeling autumn flush. Infusing the autumnal Darjeeling shares a bold, full-bodied taste in a light coppery liquor. It has a strong character used to go with breakfast and afternoon teas. This autumn harvest has the shortest duration, lasting only 30 days or a little longer. After this last flush of the year, the tea bushes go under periods of dormancy from December to February as the leaves hibernate, leading to an output decrease.

What is so special about Darjeeling tea?

Aside from Darjeeling tea's powerful antioxidants contributing to your overall health, it is a special tea because it is the only tea with the patronage of the Geographical Indication trademark, also known as GI. Darjeeling tea gets its protection trademark because of its tried and tested agricultural process to produce the finest tea in the world. Its distinct cultivation at the highest altitude earns its acknowledgment in the tea industry. This recognition adds to the tea's popularity, getting one of the highest places in the market today as an infusion and a primary ingredient in other tea blends.

Is Darjeeling tea high in caffeine?

Darjeeling tea is from the Camellia sinensis tea family. So if you're wondering if it contains caffeine, yes, it does. The amount of caffeine varies on the flush, the type of leaves, the procedure the tea underwent, and its brewing style. The younger the tea leaves and buds are, the more caffeine an infusion gives. Young Darjeeling loose tea is made with a lot of caffeine compared to the mature ones, even more than Assam and Nilgiri teas. Other Indian teas in tea dust and fannings may offer a stronger brew. 

An 8-ounce cup of Darjeeling tea has approximately 50 to 120 mg of caffeine, which is about half of that of a brewed cup of coffee of the same amount. But if you like a stronger infusion, 7g of loose black tea comprises about 120 mg of caffeine. Organic Darjeeling tea has lesser caffeine than your coffee blend, infusing only 50 mg of caffeine into your cup. The English Tea Store also has organic Darjeeling tea in sample sizes, measuring 1oz of loose-leaf or a set of five tea bags for you to try out. Retain your focus throughout the day without being too jittery as you sip a Darjeeling blended tea.

Drink in its benefits: What is Darjeeling tea good for?

Since Darjeeling tea is from the Camellia sinensis plant family, you are guaranteed its health benefits from every cup. Darjeeling tea is made up of polyphenols, antioxidants, and flavonoids, also known as phytonutrient-rich plant pigments. These health agents manage your cholesterol levels and high blood pressure and can help battle cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity. Drinking Darjeeling tea provides the body with thearubigins and theaflavins needed to stimulate anti-oxidative activity to minimize the stress that results in cellular damage and help your system search for free radicals. This helps to prevent cellular damage that makes your body more susceptible to aging, cancer, and heart problems.

This tea's soothing aroma expands throughout the body, enhancing one's mood amidst a stressful day at work or otherwise. Darjeeling tea is high in tannins, downplaying stress to control depression and anxiety from rising in your head, affecting your skin, asthma condition, heart, brain, kidneys, and nervous and cardiovascular systems. Instead, Darjeeling tea improves blood flow and boosts your mind's alertness and immune system. It diminishes the release of cortisol or stress hormones and reduces the possibility of atherosclerosis which pertains to the development of plaque in the arteries that causes heart attacks and stroke. It is like a happy pill - in a cup!

Putting Darjeeling tea in a women's daily diet at least two times a day safeguards her from the risk of osteoporosis. This tea improves the drinker's bone density and also supports weight loss intentions. Consuming this tea unsweetened, gives you low calories and high polyphenols that guarantee anti-obesity characteristics. Semi-oxidized Darjeeling tea enhances metabolism and burns body fat quicker, cutting down belly fat in no time due to its high levels of catechins. Like other true teas, this Darjeeling version boasts antimicrobial effects, remedies bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal tract, and enhances oral health. While it fights bad bacteria in your gut, Darjeeling tea also rouses good ones in the digestive system. Remember, bad bacteria can lead to obesity, and good bacteria will help you lose the unnecessary weight you've been trying to shed off. Not only that! Dieticians, nutritionists, and doctors recommend Darjeeling tea for its hydration properties aside from being a reliable agent for weight loss. Make this tea the ninth cup of hydrating beverage aside from the eight glasses of water you're required to take in a day. 

This special Indian tea offers a way to reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease due to its thearubigins and theaflavins content. Darjeeling tea also has bio-active compounds, including L-theanine, to block off this neurodegenerative disease. So don't let stress, an unbalanced diet, and a poor lifestyle bring you this brain disorder. Brew a cup of Darjeeling tea now and start building a better health regimen for your well-being.

Is Darjeeling tea the same as Black tea or Earl Grey?

Darjeeling tea is no different than black or Earl Grey teas. In fact, Darjeeling tea is a type of black tea grown in the highlands of India. It is blended with other teas and ingredients to make popular infusions like the English Breakfast and Earl Grey teas. Darjeeling tea brews a fruity scent that matches the taste of bergamot oil, producing a gold or bronze liquid presented by a cup of Earl Grey tea. A sweeter and less bitter flavor sets Darjeeling tea apart from other types of black tea, such as Assam, Ceylon, and Lapsang Souchong.

The difference between Assam and Darjeeling tea leaves

Assam and Darjeeling teas both come from the same tea plant but are cultivated in different areas in India, indicating separate variants to distinguish the two. Assam is grown in the lowlands of Northeast Bengal, while Darjeeling is planted in the highlands of the Himalayan foothills located in the state of West Bengal. Both teas bear the respective names of the regions they flourish. The two types of black tea vary in their fragrance, taste, and colored liquid they project once brewed.

Assam leaves have a strong, earthy fragrance, however, its brewed liquid possesses a less earthy aroma. Darjeeling tea exudes a subtle floral scent. Their flavors are distinct from each other too. Assam has a nutty and malty taste with a light bitterness that can turn sour, like caramelized orange zest. Darjeeling, on the other hand, leaves a fruity and muscatel flavor on your taste buds. The Assam black tea variant goes perfectly with milk and sugar, but Darjeeling can do away with these tea enhancers. A dark-brownish liquid is infused from Assam tea, while Darjeeling tea brews between a light-greenish to golden infusion.

Green Darjeeling tea

Darjeeling tea can come in several tea forms depending on the method master tea blenders make it. The Champagne of Teas can be processed in different ways to create a black, green, white, or oolong tea. Black Darjeeling tea undergoes four phases, going through plucking, withering, rolling, and fermentation. This longer method produces a strong, flavorful blend but has less health benefits. Making green Darjeeling tea only has two steps: picking and withering. This procedure infuses a mild blend with better-preserved antioxidants since this shorter method does not let out all the nutrients in the process.

Darjeeling green tea has a lighter body than regular Darjeeling. It has an intricate taste, putting forward a fusion of slightly grassy and fruity notes that complement light meals such as dishes with white meat, shellfish, vegetables, and salads.

White Darjeeling tea

Like the green type, white Darjeeling tea is not highly oxidized. This tea presents a thin body with a delicate fragrance. It infuses a light gold liquid that oozes a fresh taste and sweet notes. The White Darjeeling is a rare tea made through hand-plucking and rolling and withered under the sun to prevent the polyphenols from the leaves from escaping your cup.

Darjeeling oolong tea

Lighter than the typical black Darjeeling tea made from the first flush, Darjeeling oolong tea is cultivated 3,000 feet above sea level with an average temperature between 5 and 20°C within the season. This Darjeeling tea blend is from finely picked leaves, particularly a bud and two leaves. It is semi-oxidized, using a withering method that exposes the harvested leaves naturally under the sun and air. The wilted leaves are rolled by hand and pan-fried, but they can also go through rolling and drying using a machine. Darjeeling oolong produced from the second flush infuses a thick-bodied, dark orange liquid with its unique muscatel flavor. Its second flush is more popular worldwide. 

This Darjeeling blend has two variants: China and clonal Darjeeling oolong teas. The China-type Darjeeling oolong presents a muscatel taste, while the clonal-kind features a floral or spicy note.

Darjeeling tea and milk

Darjeeling tea, the world's finest tea, is best consumed without adding milk compared to other tea blends. Putting a dash of milk is not highly recommended by tea connoisseurs, especially for the Darjeeling tea leaves picked from the first flush. The leaves from the first harvest infuse a mild flavor and floral hints. Brewing this tea with milk may affect its delicate taste. Listen to the tea experts when they say you don't need milk to enhance an already perfect tea.

Brewing Darjeeling tea from loose leaf or tea bags

Savor the fantastic brew of a cup of Darjeeling tea with fresh spring water. Since this tea is not highly oxidized, it requires a bit lower temperature to release its delicate flavor and nutrients into your cup. For loose-leaf Darjeeling, infuse one teaspoon of tea leaves in hot water, at a temperature of 100°C, for two to three minutes in a pre-heated cup. Darjeeling dust in tea bags is steeped in 237ml (one cup) of hot water at the same temperature and duration to experience its irresistible brew. The Darjeeling flavor can stand well on its own without mixing sugar, milk, or lemon into the brew.