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May 1, 2006

The New Harvest is in! – First Flush Darjeeling

Filed under: Black Tea,Tea Culture — Administrator @ 2:24 pm

? When hearing the world “flush”, we may be more inclined to associate it with a common bathroom activity rather than make a connection to tea. Flush, however is the term used for the new growth on a tea plant in early spring. The shoots are delicate and slender with a grey-green appearance yielding an infusion that is considered one of the finest tea in the world. Darjeeeling is a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas in the north-east corner of India. At an altitude between 3000 and 7000 feet, this area produces over 22 million pounds of tea each year. It is the cool climate, the rich fertile and well-drained soil as well as adequate rainfall and pristine mountain air that contribute to the “muscatel” flavor of the Darjeeling which is also know as the “champagne” of Indian teas. Darjeeling teas are plucked during specific times throughout the year and each plucking reveals its own unique character in the cup: First Flush (March to mid April): The first harvest after the cold winter produces a very special Darjeeling with a light yellow to copper-red cup color and a delicate flowery aroma. The tea is fresh and mild in flavor and less astringent than tea from later pluckings. Second Flush (May and June): The second flush teas tend to have all the qualities and character of a first flush, however slightly more developed. Bright copper in the cup, this Darjeeling has a sweet honey-like flavor. Monsoon Teas (July to September): Teas that grow during the monsoon season typically have a higher water content and are mostly used for breakfast blends Autumnal Flush (October) This tea still has the overall Darjeeling character but differs in color and aroma. The more mature leaves produce a darker, amber color in the cup and the flavor is smoother and more full-bodied than the spring and summer teas. First Flush Darjeelings are the cream of the crop and often compared to a Beaujolais Nouveau and are also only available in a certain quantity and for a limited time. Unfortunately, due to the lack of winter rains, the tea production got started late this year and produced less of these spectacular teas than we have had in the past. You don’t have to miss out, though, because at Souvia we have just received our shipment of First Flush Darjeelings: A First Flush from the estate Margaret’s Hope and an organic First Flush from Samaboeng. Available as long as supply lasts……