Giddapahar Tea Estate – The Tea Garden
Giddapahar Tea Garden is located in Darjeeling’s Kurseong Valley at an altitude of around 1500m. With this, the estate is part of one of India’s finest tea cultivation regions. einer der feinsten Teeanbauregionen Darjeelings. The cool climate coming with the tea garden’s extraordinary altitude gives Giddapahar teas a particularly delicate aroma, for whose muscatel character the estate has gained a reputation among tea lovers. In addition, fog covers the tea bushes here on a daily basis for most of the year, an inalienable prerequisite for the finest teas in the world.
The estate stretches across a total area of 115 hectar, 94 hectar of which are covered with tea bushes. These produce 30 tons of tea annually.
Giddapahar Tea Estate – History
Established in 1881, Giddapahar Tea Estate has been the property of the Shaw family ever since. They have always been managing the the tea garden like a family venture, and this is still the case today. At present, the brothers Himashu and Sudhanshu are in charge of the cultivation, production and distribution of their produced teas. Today, Giddapahar is the traditional Darjeeling tea garden that matches the definition of a heritage family venture in the narrower sense best.
The Indian First Flush Season
We might know the term “First Flush” from India only. However, there are “first flushes” – first spring pickings – elsewhere, too. Much rather, the first pickings after the winter break enjoy specialty status in all tea growing regions of the world. The main reason for this is the particular, taste-relevant pattern of active substances in the tea leaf after the “winter break”. For once, picking stops for several months during the cold season in all major tea cultivation countries. But it is not only the picking break that brings the tea plants relief. What adds is that the cool climate soothes the plants and promotes the accumulation of active substances. This applies especially in combination with high humidity and/or fog. In spring then, with rising temperatures and days getting longer, the plant drives these active substances into the young leaves and buds. And this is something… you can taste!
“Early” and “late” First Flushes
What we call “First Flush Season” is by no means a consistent picking period, when it comes to quality and taste of the individual batches. “Ex. 1” , i. e. the very first picking run in the year at all, yields no more than a few kg’s only. Then, this tiny yield comes with such labor expense and the resulting tea is met by such high demand that the price for it hits utopian dimensions. This applies in particular to tea gardens at lower altitudes that because of their location will start their spring picking very early, i. e. already in February. Accordingly, their teas make the spearhead of the Indian first flush season. As such, every year they are the first on the market. There, they meet the anticipation that has built-up among Darjeeling first flush lovers since last year’s season.
Giddapahar First Flush – wet leaves after infusion
On the flipside of the price-quality spiral, later in March pickings of such estates are what will – starting from April – be widely available at Western tea shops at significantly lower prices. By then, however, they’ll have the very best of the spring season already behind them. And this is, when some other Darjeeling tea estates – based on their highland location – will only start their first and most premium pickings. To them applies the same cycle as described above for lowland estates, just shifted in time by a few weeks.
Tea from India at Siam Tea Shop
The sustainable trend to more quality with tea on the western market increasingly bears sweet fruit in India, too. Year after year, the mayor tea estates in Darjeeling and Assam compete for the market’s recognition for each season’s best “First Flush“, “Second Flush” or “Autumnal”. However, not only quality comes from India at new levels today, but also completely new diversity of India’s tea portfolio. Black tea, for example, the classic of Indian teas, suddenly comes around in the most diverse appearances. The spectrum reaches from the modern, flowery, spring-hearted first flush to full-bodied, dark roasted second flushes to earthy and malty “autumnals”. One example for a modern, somewhat „greener“ processed First Flush, as it is typical for many estates today, is our Giddapahar First Flush 2019 Spring Wonder Ex 01.
Giddapahar First Flush 2019 Spring Wonder Ex 01
The ultimate reach for the stars: the very first invoice 2019 of Giddapahar Tea Garden in Darjeeling! That is, the tea of the very first picking of the year, a dream of every Darjeeling tea lover: extremely rare, equally precious, and: beyond any recall! A firework of intense fruity and floral, spring-fresh flavors from one of Darjeeling’s finest tea gardens!
The modern form of processing early First Flushes focuses on highlighting these pickings’ specific spring character. To that end, the state-of-the-art processed, almost still “green” Giddapahar First Flush first withers overnight inside the tea factory. During this time, the tea leaves are gently turned several times by hand, leaving the leaf surfaces intact. The withering on the one hand takes some astringency off the tea. On the other hand, the tea leaves gain suppleness during this process. The next morning, they go straight from the withering tray to the rolling machine, where the tea leaves get their final shape. Then, they are left to cool down for about 10 minutes, before moving to the dryer for final drying
The dry leaves material of Giddapahar First Flush 2019 Spring Wonder Ex 01 award Darjeeling tea lovers with true eye candy even before getting to actually trying it. A rare combination of brown, red and turquoise shades that most probably only Darjeeling’ modern first flushes processing can evoke. As usual, Giddapahar’s first flush sticks out with downright perfect harmony and balance of its flavor composition. However, the early picking (Ex 01) adds a fresh fruityness to this that is unique among this year’s Darjeeling first flushes. Highly recommendable for friends of complex fruity teas without any astringency or bitterness.
First, poor 200-250 ml boiling hot water (90°C-100°C) over 4g Giddapahar First Flush 2019 Spring Wonder Ex 01 in a teapot. Let infuse for 1-2 minutes for a mild, harmonious tea. A second infusion is always an option, living up to much more than just keeping this tea’s delicious aftertaste alive.
For more first flushes from Darjeeling and other Indian cultivation areas at Siam Tea Shop, please see here: