Darjeeling First Flush
Tea Crop 2021 – Part One
In the first of a new series, we lift the veil on one of the world’s rarest and most precious tea varieties,
with expert insights from our resident Tea Master
At The East India Company, we pride ourselves on our range of fine teas, which are cultivated in far-flung countries around the world and sourced by a team of passionate tea experts. One of our most precious varieties is the Darjeeling First Flush Tea, a delicately fresh, nuanced tea grown in a remote region and only available to pick for a few short weeks.
“It is special because it comes only once a year, consisting of the first few leaves grown after the plant’s winter dormancy, which lasts from November to February or March,” says Tea Master Lalith Lenadora. “It produces a light floral tea with a slight fruity taste.”
As our Tea Master, Lenadora has a rich, deep knowledge of the fascinating world of fine tea. Personally selecting each tea that goes into our carefully curated range, his work requires him to be closely involved with each stage of a tea’s lifespan, from cultivation to cup.
The Darjeeling region is located in north-east India, on the border between China, Bhutan and Nepal. Grown on plantations nestled in the alpine foothills of the Himalayas, close to the mighty Mount Everest, Darjeeling First Flush is produced at a higher elevation than any other tea variety, which Lenadora explains makes it even more special: “The altitude creates an ideal environment for the plant. Teas grown here are imparted with a unique flavour and special aroma, which is inherent in Darjeeling First flush.”
Himalayan winters are bitterly cold, but by the time the early spring sunshine ventures through the region’s crystalline air – creating an effect known as “the Darjeeling mist” - the tea bushes flourish with the “first flush”, or tender shoots, of that year’s Darjeeling tea crop.
“The unique flavours of Darjeeling come from Chinese tea genetics mixing with the Indian terroir, in addition to the intricacies of harvesting and processing,” says Lenadora. “It is lighter and less astringent than most black tea, but more layered and complex than most teas processed in other parts of India. In contrast, other tea varieties grown in the country are generally strong (meaning they have a high caffeine content) with a nutty, earthy nuance.”
The current conditions in Darjeeling see temperatures ranging between 11C and 23C. High temperatures and sunny days, together with the fact that it has not rained in the region for almost five months, it’s likely that the new season will start early this year. The onset of the new flush growth is expected during the second or third week of March.
Be sure to check back and read the next instalment of our Darjeeling First Flush blog series, when we will cover the intricacies of the 2021 crop and the latest on this year’s all-important picking process.
Subscribe below to receive a notification as soon as Darjeeling First Flush 2021 lands