Herbal tea, black tea, green tea, masala chai, and the list goes on. There are endless tea varieties across the globe – experts estimate the number to be in the thousands.
Part 1: All About Darjeeling Teas
You are wondering what makes Darjeeling tea so special? Join us in our two-part series as we discuss all you need to know about Darjeeling teas.
Tracing the History of Darjeeling Tea
Darjeeling is home to some of the best tea plantations in the world. It is tucked away in a quiet corner in the foothills of the Himalayas in the West Bengal. It is said that the harsh winds of the Himalayas give Darjeeling tea the unique aroma it is famous for.
The history of Darjeeling tea is rather intriguing. It wasn’t the Indians who first Darjeeling tea. Robert Fortune, a famous Scottish adventurer, and botanist smuggled some tea seeds from the region. The botanist followed a treacherous road with skewed paths to give the gift of the Darjeeling to India and the British rulers who lived there.
The British wanted their own supply of tea instead of relying on the Chinese. This desire to take away the tea ‘monopoly’ from Chinese traders led to the formation of one of the first hill resorts in Darjeeling with the specific purpose of brewing tea.
Darjeeling had all the right numbers needed to brew the perfect batch of tea leaves. Darjeeling has cool weather, lots of sunlight, and unique topography to cultivate the highest quality of tea leaves.
Darjeeling has elevations ranging from 150 to 2100 meters, with an annual rainfall of 65 to 145 inches. The mean temperature fluctuates from 75 F to 52 F, before dropping into the 40s during winter. Being a skilled horticulturist who knew his craft, Dr. Campbell led the first Darjeeling project. He planted a few tea plants imported from China in 1841. The rest, as they say, is history.
By 1866, Darjeeling became a powerhouse known for producing over 130,000lbs of tea a year. Indian horticulturists acquired control of the Darjeeling tea gardens from the British after independence. Darjeeling tea managed to carve a name for itself despite the political upheavals throughout its history.
The Unique Taste Profile of Darjeeling Tea
Although experts believe there is no definitive way to describe the taste of Darjeeling tea truly, we will try to be as descriptive as possible.
Darjeeling has a muscatel, floral aroma with overtones of peach, apricot, and sometimes even cherry. Its texture has a welcome level of dryness and astringency that adds a sense of zest or tang.
Three prominent blends of Darjeeling are first flush, second flush, and third flush. Each flush is brisker than the one preceding it. Owing; partly to the oxidation levels of the tea leaves, each flush has its unique taste profile that ranges from light and delicate variants to robust and full-bodied ones.
What Does Darjeeling Tea do in the Human Body?
Darjeeling tea has been studied extensively in India for its health benefits. Evidence suggests that moderate consumption will slow aging and cellular damage. Darjeeling blends have an abundance of polyphenols and antioxidants that play an important role in preventing cancer and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.