Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Cuppa: Oh My Darjeeling!

One of the finest teas in the world is Darjeeling. I absolutely love it! Darjeeling was one of the first black teas I enjoyed all on its own. I thought this would be the perfect tea to put in the spotlight on this day of love!

Darjeeling uses the Chinese sinensis variety of the Camellia sinensis plant as opposed to the assamica variety used for other Indian teas. It is grown in the northern region of India and is named after this area. The gardens sit at the foothills of the Himalayan Range, about 300 – 2600 metres above sea level. The climate here is cool, averaging 12°C, with an annual rainfall of 250 – 350 cm. These conditions provide rich, nutrient soil that is ideal for achieving the unique flavour of Darjeeling just as any other tea.

Darjeeling tea leaves.

Highly-prized first flush Darjeeling is harvested in early Spring. The flavour of this tea is mild, with a light colour and aroma. The second flush is harvested in early Summer. The colour is a darker amber with a more muscatel flavour. A third flush is harvested in late Summer which provides a much fuller flavour with spicy notes. A late harvest occurs in early Fall after the monsoon season. This particular tea is much darker, fuller bodied, and not as valuable as the first flush.

Manufacturing, of course, also plays an important role in making Darjeeling. The process of plucking, withering, rolling, oxidizing, drying, and sorting, occurs in producing Darjeeling. However, it is not fully oxidized. Though it is classified as a black tea, oxidation is below 90%, which makes it more of an oolong. Some even consider Darjeeling a blend of green, oolong and black teas.

I made a first flush, FTGFOP-1 Darjeeling tea from the Makaibari Estate. The dry leaves are a charcoal colour with specks of green and gold. They smell flowery and a little fruity. To make this tea, use these steps as a guideline:

1.   Bring some water to a full boil in a kettle.
2.   Measure out 1 – 1 ½ teaspoons of tea leaves for every 1 cup of water.
3.   You may pour water onto the leaves straight off the boil, but I like to wait 3 minutes.
4.   Steep for 3 – 4 minutes. Not too long as the liquor will become bitter.
5.   Enjoy your Darjeeling!

The Champagne of teas!

With a floral aroma, the liquor is a beautiful golden colour, almost like a white a wine. The flavour is a bit nutty and reminded me of yams or some cooked fruit. It really does have that grape-like flavour Darjeeling is famous for. There was a slight astringency near the end of each sip. 

Darjeeling is one of the most famous teas in the world. It’s regarded as the “Champagne of Teas”. What could be better than to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your sweetie along with chocolate-covered strawberries and glasses of Darjeeling? ;)

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