Exploring the Teas of Darjeeling Posted on 10 Aug 15:48

Perched on the border of Nepal in the Himalayan Foothills is the Indian tea growing region of Darjeeling. The region sits 7000 feet above sea level in India’s West Bengal state and is known for the production of orthodox style black teas. The tea produced in this region is often hailed as the Champagne of tea.

The harvest period begins in late March with the harvest of the first flush. The first flush is a highly sought after tea harvest as the leaves are full of stored nutrients from their winter dormant period. To exemplify these teas, during processing the leaves are not left to oxidize as long as other teas resulting in a greener tea, almost oolong in nature (in fact, some tea experts consider these teas to be oolongs because of their semi-oxidized nature). The tea season continues with the second flush which occurs in between May and June. Teas from Darjeeling’s second flushing period are left to fully oxidize during production and are known for their deep, dark notes of muscat grape.

Tea leaves being harvested in Darjeling

Darjeeling’s harvest continues with a monsoon or summer flush occurring from July and August and an Autumnal flush occurring from October to November. Harvest dates fluctuate each year due to changes in climate. During a warm year, the harvest may creep past November into December -- this is known as a winter flush. Because Darjeeling's tea gardens are high in elevation, they are extremely susceptible to climate-change.

There are currently 87 registered tea gardens in Darjeeling. Among the most famous are Margaret's Hope Estate, Castleton Estate,  Arya Estate, and Avongrove Estate.