Darjeeling is one of the best varieties of tea in the world. It currently has a Geographical Indication trademark and is the only variety of tea to get this trademark. The tea is grown in the Himalayan region of India. These plantations are at a height of 600 to 2,000 meters, and this is the highest geographical elevation for growing tea. In a year, India produces 11,000 tons of Darjeeling tea, and this accounts for 1% of its total tea output. Although a lot of the tea produced is exported, a good proportion is also consumed by the local Indian population. One factor that separates this variety of tea from the rest is the fact that it is produced traditionally, without the help of machines. This tea comes in different types, and we shall explore them in this piece.
What is a Flush?
In India, harvesting periods are referred to as flushes. In fact, in China and Japan, flushes are simply referred to as harvests. This variety of tea is classified into flushes based on the time the tea was harvested, as you will see in the list below.
• The First Flush
The first flush of this tea variety is harvested in spring, after the long winter period. Leaves harvested in this period are known for having a bright flowery scent. Since this tea has a delicate flavor and color, it is sold at a very high price. In its dry form, the first flush of tea can have a green color, and this can give the appearance of green tea.
• The Second Flush
Two months after the first flush is harvested, the second flush will be plucked. This tea has a purplish-brown color in its dry form. In comparison to the first flush, this tea has a strong flavor and a darker color. Although the first flush is known for its rich flavor, the second flush is also extremely popular among tea connoisseurs. This is because its taste is unique.
• The Third Flush
This flush is harvested in autumn, and its quality is generally considered to be lower than that of the first and second flushes. The price is also lower for this flush of organic Darjeeling tea. When brewed, the third flush produces a coppery color. The leaves of the third flush of tea are usually larger than those of the first and second flushes.
• The In-Between Flush
This flush of tea is harvested in late summer, and it has similar characteristics to the first flush. However, its quality is notably lower. The in-between flush of tea is mostly produced for the local Indian market. It is commonly sold in tea bags and can be purchased in various Darjeeling tea online stores.
• Monsoon Flush
The Monsoon flush is harvested in September, and it can be sold in tea bags or as loose leaf tea. This tea is more oxidized and is very low in quality. This type is mostly used to produce masala chai and is rarely sold outside the country.
Grades of Tea
This tea is also classified based on grades, and these grades are indicated when the tea is sold. There are four broad categories of organic Darjeeling tea, and these include whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings, and dust. Whole left tea contains many tips and has a long and wiry appearance. The brewed tea will appear lighter in color, and this is considered to be extremely high in quality. Broken leaf tea consists of small leaves, and fannings consists of even smaller leaves. Dust is the lowest grade available. When you buy the product from an online tea and coffee shop, make sure you pay attention to the grade offered.
Organic Darjeeling tea is quite popular with tea connoisseurs. It has a rich flavor and is known for being very high in quality. The tea is harvested in specific periods of the year, and it is divided into five flushes, depending on the harvesting period. The first and second flushes are considered the highest in quality, and these are harvested after winter. The tea is also classified based on the grade, and there are four broad grades available.