I haven’t done an installment of Meet the Tea in a while so I thought I’d pick it back up again with one of my favorite types of tea, Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is a tea that is grown in the Darjeeling region of India. It’s a fascinating region due to its history and the socioeconomic issues that affect the tea industry there. Tea was first planted in 1841 and continued through a bit of agricultural espionage done by Robert Fortune on behalf of the East India Company. For those interested, I highly recommend reading the following books on the subject:
- Darjeeling: A History of the World’s Greatest Tea by Jeff Koehler
- The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India by Sarah Besky
- For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose
While several types are produced there, the name is generally synonymous with black tea. Sometimes called the Champagne of teas, Darjeeling is known for its distinctive muscatel taste. The naming system teas from this region can be quite complicated. They are usually named for both the season it was harvested and the estate where it was grown. I love 1st Flush teas but only when they really fresh. Otherwise, 2nd Flushes are my go-to. I love exploring the different estates because the tea really does change depending on where it is grown.
1st Flush – harvested in mid-March after the spring rains
2nd Flush – harvested in June before the monsoon season begins
Autumnal Flush – harvested in autumn after the rainy season
Have you ever seen a series of letters at the end of the name of a tea? These abbreviations denote the grade of leaves used to make the tea. Orange Pekoe is usually used to describe a black tea consisting of whole leaves of a particular size. Fannings and dust are the lowest grades and they are used to produce tea bags.
SFTGFOP – Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
FTGFOP – Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
TGFOP – Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe
FTGBOP – Fine Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe
TGBOP – Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe
FBOP – Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe
BOP – Broken Orange Pekoe
GFOF – Golden Flowery Orange Fannings
GOF – Golden Orange Fannings
D – Dust
Darjeeling is generally prepared using 212-degree water and steeped for 3 to 5 minutes. Greener 1st flush teas will usually do well at slightly cooler temperatures.