Sunday, July 26, 2015
Darjeeling is a town in India's West Bengal state, in the Himalayan foothills.
It's famed for the distinctive black tea grown on plantations that dot its surrounding slopes. Its backdrop is Mt. Kanchenjunga, among the world’s highest peaks.
This is the land of the muscatel flavoured Darjeeling tea revered by connoisseurs across the globe. This is the land of the world heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway where the century old miniature steam engine still chugs uphill vying for space with the fast disappearing Land Rovers.
Subsequently, extensive tea plantations were established in the region, and tea growers developed hybrids of black tea and created new fermentation techniques. The resultant distinctive Darjeeling tea is internationally recognised and ranks among the most popular of the black teas
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connects the town with the plains and has one of the few steam locomotives still in service in India.
Darjeeling tea is a tea from the Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India. It is available in black, green, white and oolong. When properly brewed, it yields a thin-bodied, light-coloured infusion with a floral aroma. The flavour can include a tinge of astringent tannic characteristics, and a musky spiciness sometimes described as "muscatel"
Darjeeling tea is normally made from the small-leaved Chinese variety of Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, rather than the large-leaved Assam plant . Traditionally, Darjeeling tea is made as black tea; however, Darjeeling oolong and green teas are becoming more commonly produced and easier to find, and a growing number of estates are also producing White Teas.
Many Darjeeling teas also appear to be a blend of teas oxidized to levels of green, oolong, and black.
First flush is harvested in mid-March following spring rains, and has a gentle, very light colour, aroma, and mild astringency.
In between is harvested between the two "flush" periods.
Second flush is harvested in June and produces an amber, full bodied, muscatel-flavoured cup.
Monsoon or rains tea is harvested in the monsoon (or rainy season) between second flush and autumnal, is less withered, consequently more oxidized, and usually sold at lower prices. It is rarely exported, and often used in masala chai.
Autumnal flush is harvested in the autumn after the rainy season, and has somewhat less delicate flavour and less spicy tones, but fuller body and darker colour.
Darjeeling white tea
The white variant of Darjeeling tea has a delicate aroma and brews to a pale golden colour with a mellow taste and a hint of sweetness. Darjeeling white tea leaves are very fluffy and light; therefore, it is recommended to use more (by volume) when preparing it than one normally would for other teas
The tea is hand picked and rolled, then withered in the sun, making it a rare tea. It is grown in the rainy and cold climate of Darjeeling at altitudes up to 2000 metres.
The oolong variant of Darjeeling tea has two distinct types: clonal and China. The China type is more similar to Taiwan oolong and the clonal type is totally different from it
Darjeeling oolong is lighter than usual Darjeeling black tea during first flush, as it is semioxidized. The cup looks light orange and infusion remains green. Darjeeling oolong in second flush is more accepted worldwide. It is more thick in cup and dark orange in liquor with distinct muscatel flavours.
Altitudes 3000 ft above sea level are required.
Average temperatures should remain between 5 and 20 °C throughout the season.
Lower elevation gardens can produce teas of similar appearance, but the flavour differs greatly from the main characteristics of oolong tea.
Darjeeling oolong teas are made from finely plucked leaves, usually two leaves and a bud, and are sometimes withered naturally in sun and air. The withered leaves get hand-rolled and pan-fired at certain temperatures. This can also be done in machine: withered in trough, lightly rolled in a rolling machine and fired at 220 °C in a quality dryer with faster run-through, depending on the leaves used.