Darjeeling Tea – The Champagne Of Teas
„The Champagne Of Teas“
Darjeeling tea is carefully cultivated on the southern slopes of the Himalayan Mountains in the Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India. Its uniqueness is based on it special climate: Intense sunshine in relatively cool climate conditions and grown on very steep slopes in extremely high altitudes. The alternate spells of rain and sunshine help to grow the tea. The typical fog further ensures the required level of moisture. This complex combination of agro-climatic conditions comes together with a meticulous manufacture and a disdain for quantity.
The harvests, especially of the popular First Flush and Second Flush, are limited and cannot be copied anywhere else in this world, thus making it the “The Champagne of Teas”. Because of its uniqueness and exclusivity, Darjeeling tea is desired all over the world, resulting in very high prices.
A Very Distinct Tea
The flavor of Darjeeling tea is very unique. In general it tastes light and delicate with musky-sweet tasting notes. But can also have delicate vegetal, mossy, fruity flavors. Contrary to other Indian teas, Darjeeling is based on the Chinese tea leaf Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, not on the larger leaf var. assamica. This combination of these Chinese tea genetics and the special climate that can be found in Darjeeling, makes Darjeeling tea taste so special.
The flavour of Darjeeling tea will taste different depending on the harvesting period, called flushes. To find out what your favorite Darjeeling tea is, read more here.
A Huge Price Span
Finding the right Darjeeling tea can be complicated. Prices for 50g can range from 2 GBP to 20 GBP and more. The most expensive teas are usually produced in a single estate under perfect conditions and are flown out of Darjeeling right after the first harvest starts. On the other side, you can also find some very cheap tea, which are still labeled as high quality Darjeeling teas. Be careful: If you take a closer look you will see that many of those cheaper teas don’t mention essential details, like the year of harvest, the harvest period, the best before date, the leaf grade (e.g. FTGFOP-1). Sometimes you would get a tea that is already some years old or includes harvests from different harvest periods and years, thus stretching the tea. What makes matters even worse is that according to the Tea Board of India there is still much more Darjeeling tea being sold than produced.