Recipes

What is Darjeeling Tea?

Posted on April 30, 2014 by Bruce MacNaughton

DARJEELING

Legend has it that Lord Indra's (the Hindu King of Heaven) thunderbolt fell at the place where now stands the Observatory hill. The Tibetan words "Dorje, the thunderbolt of Indra, and Ling” meaning a place, from Dorje-Ling, or the Land of the Thunderbolt. 

Amidst the many splendiferous mountains at an altitude of 7,000 feet, where Heaven meets Earth, you can encounter breathtaking beauty, mystery and magic. Here the hills are emerald and lush. The earth is rich and yielding. The mountain mists moisture-laden and mellow. In this rarefied air, monks and simple folk spin enthralling legends and tell tales of how Darjeeling tea was born.

The tea gardens planted in these regions over a century ago, with pedigreed bushes from China, have gifted the world the finest of teas.

So rare and unique is the flavour that it cannot be replicated anywhere else. Two leaves and a bud, hand picked and processed to release a sun burst of flavour.  Flavour that has been described as "muscatel." 

The distinctive, elusive and rare character of Darjeeling tea is the result of several factors. The tea gardens are situated at elevations of 750 - 2,000 meters and gardens up to 70 degrees provide ideal natural drainage for the generous rainfall the district receives. Coupled with this, the intermittent cloud and sunshine combine to impart the unique character of Darjeeling tea

The finest Darjeelings, particularly those plucked in June and October are among the most prized of all teas. They are unforgettably rich and complex in flavour and aroma, lingering yet delicate and mellow, with a distinctive quality that is sometimes nutlike and sometimes reminiscent of muscatel and black currants. Lower quality Darjeelings are not nearly as memorable but can still be thoroughly delicious

Darjeelings are generally full-bodied, with a light gold to reddish gold or brown liquor. The dried leaves vary from greenish to black to brown to grayish-black, depending on the season; some have white or golden tips, though ones that do not may be just as high, or higher in quality. Peak-season Darjeelings picked in end of March and typically April form the first flush which tend to be lighter in body. The exceptional ones show wonderful complexity and rich muscatel flavour. Second flush tea season begins typically in July. The leaf tends to be browner to grayish, grayish-black, wiry with golden tips, proof of high quality production of the prized second flush leaves (as opposed to mixed greenish, greenish-brown leaves of first flush).

Our Darjeeling Teas

Ringtong - Darjeeling 

Second flush of typical Darjeelings grown at altitude of approx. 3000’ - 3500' in the southern Himalayan’s. Even greyish leaf with mellow, faintly nutty cup. The Darjeeling character is very obvious and enjoyed plain or with milk.

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