Darjeeling is a highland region in northeastern India, part of the Indian state of West Bengal and the southern foothills of the Himalayas. Outside of India, for example in the West, Darjeeling is mainly popular for its fine teas. At this, the high profile of Darjeeling Tea is due to a number of individual characteristics. Of course, one of these is the specific “terroir” of Darjeeling: mineral-rich soils and climate conditions that could not be more favorable for tea cultivation.
Another basic feature is the unique history of tea cultivation in Darjeeling, with both its light and shadow sides. And a third factor shaping tea cultivation in Darjeeling is the structuring of the annual harvest cycle into 3 “tea seasons”, or picking periods.
3 Darjeeling Tea Seasons
3 tea seasons / picking periods in Darjeeling
Of course, we also know this harvesting cycle of spring, summer and autumn picking from other tea-growing countries. For example, in both China and Japan, spring-teas enjoy the reputation of being the best teas o the year. Many Chinese and Japanese teas can even be picked exclusively in spring. Accordingly, the summer and autumn pickings are tendentiously considered as of inferior quality.
Not so in Darjeeling, where, after decades of work with the various cultivars and methods, every season has its own qualities! To this end, specific picking and processing standards have established for Darjeeling’s “First Flushes”, “Second Flushes” and “Autumnals”. In turn, these are aiming at highlighting the particular positive characteristics of each season’s teas.
For example, the processing of spring teas today resembles more that of oolong tea than that of black tea. And, in fact, the earlier the picking, the lower the oxidation level. The resulting Darjeeling First Flush doesn’t have much in common with classic black Darjeeling tea. Rather, it wins the hearts of tea lovers worldwide with feathery, sweet-floral flavors that are unique in the world of tea.
Darjeeling First Flush
In contrast, the summer picking, the Darjeeling Second Flush, represents the classic black Darjeeling tea. However, this also comes with special flavors that make Darjeeling second flushes unique within the black tea category. A good example of this is the pronounced Muscatel character of many Darjeeling Second Flushes, which is kind of “Darjeeling-only”.
Darjeeling Second Flush
Meanwhile, Darjeeling’s Autumnals, with their mild, malty-sweet taste, have also started building up their international fan club. The fact that they pair a true black tea’s taste with low caffeine content further contributes to their popularity.
Darjeeling Autumn Flush (Autumnal)
The Darjeeling Tea 3-Seasons Box
According to the above, there are Darjeeling teas of three different picking periods. In addition, there are about 90 different tea estates operating in Darjeeling. And they’re all at different altitudes and terroirs… Plus, of course, there are quality differences that won’t reveal at visual inspection only… As a result, buying tea from Darjeeling can be a real challenge for newcomers. But also experienced friends of Darjeeling teas can find it difficult to get an up-to-date overview. Now, to bring the whole world of Darjeeling tea right within reach of your fingertips, we have created the Darjeeling 3-Seasons Box.
The box contains 6 different Darjeeling teas, 2 of each season and across different tea estates. To this end, we strive for a representative cross-section of our current offer of selected top Darjeeling teas at Siam Tea Shop. Therefore, we’ll always have to adapt the box’s exact composition to the current situation. This certainly adds a surprise factor to this sample box. However, trust me, we’ll make sure that the suprise will always be a positive one!
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Dosage: In our experience, dosing tea leaves on water is largely subject to personal preferences. Therefore, we recommend tea lovers who have not yet developed a preference for a particular tea, to use a standard of 4g tea leaves on 200g of water as a starting point.
Water temperature: The recommendable infusion temperature is the same for every Darjeeling tea: boiling hot water (90-100 ° C).
Infusion period: Here, too, individual taste and other preferences play a very important role. For the preparation of a Darjeeling First Flush, we recommend infusing for 2-3 minutes with the above standard dosage. Darjeeling Second Flushes, on the other hand, can steep a bit longer: 3-4 minutes. And for the extremely mild and harmonious autumn flushes (“autumnals”), you may like to add another minute: 4-5 minutes.
By the way, good Darjeeling teas are always good for a second infusion!