Darjeeling tea came into existence when the small-leaved Chinese variety of the tea plant was imported and planted in India in the mid-1800s. Darjeeling is known for its outstanding quality and has a taste and aroma that is highly desired, making it one of the most popular types of black tea.
The unique flavor of Darjeeling is described as "muscatel," a type of grape. The characteristics of the tea vary depending on the time period or "flush" in which the leaves are harvested. Darjeeling has three major plucking seasons:
The later in the year the tea is harvested, the darker the color and the more full-bodied the tea. These teas are sometimes sold as a blend of more than one flush for a balance of aroma and flavor.
Darjeeling District, West Bengal, India
Flavor: fruity and floral
Aroma: floral, with a sweet quality often described as muscatel grape
Color: golden amber
Body: light and thin, although the later the flush, the richer and darker the tea
Steep in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
An Englishman named Dr. Arthur Campbell experimented with tea saplings in India and, in the 1840s, successfully cultivated tea in Darjeeling. Soon after, British tea planters developed an interest in the area and started commercial tea gardens in Darjeeling. The hills of Darjeeling were sparsely populated at the time so the British brought in workers from nearby Nepal.
There are 87 tea gardens (or tea estates) in the Darjeeling District at the foothills the Himalayas. To be authentic Darjeeling, the tea must be grown in one of these tea gardens and processed within a defined geographical area. Tea that meets these critera bears the Darjeeling certification mark and logo, which is the property of the Tea Board of India. This verifies that the tea is 100% pure Darjeeling to ensure quality control over this esteemed tea.