What is special about Darjeeling tea?
Also called the "Champagne of the teas", Darjeeling tea is the only tea in the world to get protection under the GI trademark. It means that these are grown in the Darjeeling area only and are not grown elsewhere. Where is Darjeeling? Darjeeling is a region located high in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas, in the Indian state of West Bengal. Although Darjeeling is an Indian tea, the leaves are Chinese.
Darjeeling teas are delicate and well-known for their typical muscatel flavour. Lighter and less astringent than most black teas but more complex than most green teas, its unique flavours profile comes from the Chinese tea genetics mixed with the Indian Terroir. And of course the method of harvesting and processing too.
Darjeeling teas are very aromatic but the leaves will lose their aroma when exposed to air for a long time. They are especially sensitive to moisture humid air, so make sure the pouch is properly sealed after use, and stored away from humidity or source of heat in your kitchen.
First & Second flush explained
Most Darjeeling teas are categorised as first and second flush, which refer to the period of the year during which the leaves are harvested. Keep in mind that in addition to flushes, Darjeeling tea is rated using a grading system. The teas are graded by the size and quality of the tea leaves. The four categories of tea leaves that are graded are whole tea leaves, broken leaves, fannings, and dust. Whole leaves are the highest grade, and dust is the lowest. Fannings are small leaf particles that are used in tea bags and tea dust is essentially the waste left by the tea leaves.
The tea leaves harvested in the spring after the winter (November to end of February) are known as the first flush. The flavour profile of a Darjeeling first flush is lighter and the notes are more floral with a mild astringency. You will find some green leaves, with a liquor that is clear and bright.
Two months later, when the temperature starts rising, the character of the leaves changes and the second flush begins. Darjeeling second flush leaves have a darker, amber colour and offer more pronounced flavours - particularly the muscatel flavour is more prominent compared to a first flush Darjeeling. The word muscatel is derived from muscat, a kind of grape known for its sweet, floral aroma; the overall flavour profile of a Darjeeling second flush is more fruity-floral.
On the other hand, tea offers more of a 'slow burn' sustained energy boost. This is due to the amino acid called L-theanine found in the tea, which actually lowers the absorption speed of caffeine into your body. L-theanine also improve concentration and focus while having anti-anxiety effects, so you have this alert feeling while relaxed which isn't supported by coffee.
Best time of the day to enjoy a cup of Darjeeling
The caffeine content varies depending on the flush: a Darjeeling first flush does have a lower caffeine content than a Darjeeling second flush - as it's closer to a green tea. In general, Darjeeling teas have a lower content compared to any Assam black, and are therefore best to enjoy in the mid-morning or early afternoon. If you're not looking for a strong black tea for breakfast but looking for a drink that wake you up gently, then a Darjeeling second flush is perfect. If you're looking for a stronger black tea to start your tea, an Assam tea might be a better option. As all black tea with caffeine, try to avoid drinking a cup in the evening or in the late afternoon (and earlier for those with caffeine sensitivities).
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"We bring quality & simplicity"
COMPLICI.TEA was founded in November 2020, in London. Our goal is to bring quality loose teas and herbal infusions to your home: whole leaves, full of taste & flavour, picked at peak season only. Each tea is packed in a 50g resealable pouch so rest assured that the tea in your cup tastes as fresh as the date is was picked!
We take pride to work with trusted suppliers only, who are members of the Ethical Tea Partnership. All our teas are ethically sourced, and we can guarantee a transparent perspective on where the tea is grown and manufactured.