Darjeeling is a lovely collage of snowy winding walking tracks, Himalayan range, monasteries, valleys, and many other attractions. It is situated at an altitude of 6,800 feet popularly known as the “Queen of the Hills”. If you are planning for a family or honeymoon vacation then you can definitely visit Darjeeling for an astounding experience. The beauty of the place will blow your mind like batasia loop, japanese-peace-pagoda, tiger hill and many more.
— Rajiv (teaemporium) (@darjeelingteas) August 14, 2018
Darjeeling tea is the fine variety of tea which is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is among the purest and finest teas worldwide. There are many types of Darjeeling tea like black, green, white and oolong tea. Even though having various colours of tea, Darjeeling tea is mostly marketed for black tea. Even the hotels in Darjeeling provide Darjeeling teas for the tourists to have a taste of the tea leaves.
Why is Darjeeling tea not referred to as wine but champagne of teas?
Darjeeling tea is popularly known for its exotic aroma. The tea plants found in Assam are directly made from Camellia sinensis plant, whose leaves were used brewed to make tea in China whereas, Darjeeling tea is a sinensis varietal which has smaller leaves and is generally not oxidized to make it a black tea but a mixture of oolongs and black teas.
— James Ledford (@Ottawalimousine) January 17, 2016
But the processing and selection of the tea leaves were done in such a manner so that it suits the Western palate. So, as Champagne grapes are only used for the sparkling French wines only in the region of France, Darjeeling tea is also produced only on the foothills of the Himalayas in Darjeeling.
History of Darjeeling tea plantation
— September (@Just_September) August 26, 2015
Tea plantation was started in 1841 in Darjeeling by Archibald Campbell, a civil surgeon of the Indian Medical Service. Kathmandu, Nepal was the place where Campbell was transferred to and he bought seeds of the Chinese tea plant started experimenting tea plantation.
The wonderful quality of this tea quickly caught the attention of the Government, which made them set up nurseries in 1847. Darjeeling tea started growing very quickly in British markets and was sold at very high prices.
Because of the high price and quality of Darjeeling Tea which is produced in 87 tea gardens is sent to the British markets.
Darjeeling tea flushes
— FinValko (@FinValko) April 6, 2014
The ways of tea manufacturing give it the title of “Champagne of Teas” and to hold it since the last 150 years. The exclusiveness of the taste of Darjeeling tea comes from the season it is harvested. Every seasonal harvest, known as flush offers nutritious and healthy tea which makes it favourite among the tea lovers.
First Flush: The first flush is essentially the leaves picked between March and April after the spring rains. The young delicate brewing the first light green colored leaves are picked in this season.
Second Flush: This flush takes place around May and June in early summer. The leaves are fully developed, offering a full-bodied taste and produces a darker color when brewed. This flush is famous among the tea lovers as it gives a fruity muscatel taste which is appreciated around the world.
Third Flush: The third flush usually takes places between October and November and is compared to the first flush and is closer to black tea, perfect to start your day.
The process of Making Darjeeling tea
To bring the lovely taste and exotic aroma these tea leaves go through a process to make them unique:
Withering: After plucking leaves they are spread in a pan for 14-16 hours and the hot and cold air is blown to remove the moisture content and make it soft.
Rolling: The leaves are processed for 45 minutes to release natural juices and fasten the pigmentation process.
Fermentation: The leaves are rolled and taken to a cold and humid room where it is spread in thin layers with hands for 2-4 hours to start the fermentation process.
Drying: This process is also known as firing where they are put in dryers with moving trays for 20-30 minutes at 200 degree Celsius- 240 degree Celsius.
Sorting: This part is again made by machines where the tea leaves are sorted according to their size and quality.
Grading Darjeeling Tea
There are many ways to grade the tea leaves. They are:
Whole leaf: Whole leaf teas are the finest tea leaves producing great aroma and taste.
Broken Leaf: Broken leaves which are smaller than whole leaves classified as stage two leaves comprehended by the size of the colander hole.
Fanning: Fanning are smaller than broken leaves and are lower in terms of quality.
Dust: Dust is the lowest grade tea leaves and is often used in tea bags.
Brewing A Perfect Cup Of Darjeeling Tea – Process
Use spring water and preheat the vessel to extract the best taste of the Darjeeling Tea. Steeping time is not more than 3-4 minutes and it is recommended to be tasted without adding sugar or milk to give you the actual taste which will transport you to the tea gardens with every sip.