Darjeeling Tea Varieties
Different types of Darjeeling Tea
1. Darjeeling Black Tea - Black tea accounts for over 90% of the tea consumption in the western world. Its 100% oxidized. At some stage in the production process of black tea the leaves are changed significantly, allowing the characteristic flavors of black tea – ranging from flowery to fruity, nutty and spicy – to emerge.
2. Darjeeling Oolong Tea – Darjeeling Oolong is also known as partially or semi-fermented tea, the oolongs have some of the qualities of both black and green tea. The tea is hard withered and semi oxidized. At their best, oolongs are beautiful, full-bodied tea with a fragrant flavor and fruity, sweet aroma.
3. Darjeeling Green Tea - Green tea, for centuries the beverage of choice in Asia, is rapidly gaining popularity in the western world. Darjeeling green tea is dried and steamed but not fermented, and as a result many of the natural beneficial chemicals are retained. Its natural aroma and widely acclaimed health benefits make green tea appealing to both the tea lover and previously non-tea drinker. When preparing green tea, it is important to use water below the boiling point and to carefully watch the infusion time to avoid bitterness.
4. Darjeeling White Tea - White tea are the most delicate of all tea; the finest varieties are appreciated by tea connoisseurs for their unmatched subtlety, complexity and natural sweetness. The production of the most delicate white tea consists of only two steps: Steaming and drying. The absence of withering, rolling and oxidation leaves the appearance of the leaves essentially unaltered.
5. Darjeeling Organic Tea - Organic teas can be black, green, white, oolong etc. but are distinguished by the method they are grown and cultivated. Darjeeling organic tea bushes are grown in natural condition maintaining complete ecological balance in the land area and without using any chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Makaibari tea estate is dedicated to produces organic tea. They have distinctive green textures and sharp taste.
Flavors & Seasons of Darjeeling Tea
March to November is the tea plucking and production time in Darjeeling. Winter months are dormant period and there is no tea production during this time. Darjeeling tea of the same type can come in different flavors depending on the season when it is grown and plucked. This is one of the main driving factors of the price tag of Darjeeling tea.
First Flush (or Spring Flush)
There is a romantic name for First Flush Darjeeling Tea - Lover's Blush. After the winter months, new shoots come up during the spring. The leaves are light green in color during this time. And the liquor is light & clear and has a mild astringency. The infusion is lime greenish.
Second Flush (or Summer Flush)
The months of May and June are the time for summer flush which is the main flavor in demand. The leaves turn darker and the buds Silvery. This is the tea that provides signature muscatel flavor with more colors in the liquor. The color of the infusion becomes purplish.
Monsoon tea is produced during the rainy season between July and September. The liquor is dark in color and relatively stronger. The tea is relatively more oxidized and sold at a lower rate. Such teas are popularly used for many varieties of blended teas. These teas are usually sold at a rate much lower than the others and sometimes even below the cost of production.
This is the autumn production that takes place during October and November. The tea leaves are usually of light coppery/brownish colors and the flavor is distinctly different from the other seasons. The liquor color is on the darker side. The infusion is coppery gold.
Grades of Darjeeling Tea
When Darjeeling tea is packaged, they are done by the grade of tea, i.e. essentially by the size of the tea leaves (full leaf, broken etc). This to a large extent also indicates the quality of the tea and therefore the price. Here are the different grades of Darjeeling tea:
SFTGFOP: Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. These are whole leaf tea and of highest grade. They can have many tips. The liquors are usually light in color.
FTGBOP: Fine Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe. Broken leaves but still of high quality.
GFOF: Golden Flowery Orange Fanning’s (fanning’s are smaller than the broken leaves)
D: Dust. These are Darjeeling tea dust and lowest in price.