Tea Trivia #2: First Flush Darjeeling - what the heck???

For those of us who get confused enough with the differences between green, black, white, wulong (or oolong), rooibos and more - what the heck is a first flush Darjeeling tea?

All I can say, is that if you haven't tried one you are in for a truly delightful tea experience if you are lucky enough to get hold of one in the year it is produced. 

If Darjeeling teas are the "Champagnes of Tea" then the First Flush Darjeeling is the "Dom Perignon of Darjeeling Teas".   Although it is technically a black tea - it looks nothing like any other black tea you have ever or will ever taste.   The lovely light, fresh, clean taste of an excellent First Flush Darjeeling needs no milk or sugar.   There is absolutely no bitterness if it is steeped using freshly drawn and boiled filtered water for no more than 4 minutes. 

The "Flushes" are a term used uniquely for Darjeeling teas.  

Tea gardens can only produce a small quantity of true First Flush. As its name implies, this tea is only produced once a year when the tea bushes spring out of their winter dormancy, usually sometime in mid-March.   For this reason this tea is bought up quickly and is very difficult to find. 

The Second Flush Darjeeling can also be a very high quality tea, but is not quite as premium priced as the First Flush as more of it is produced.   This tea is amber in colour, full bodied ideally with the typical muscatel flavour associated with a high quality Second Flush Darjeeling.  Quality of Second Flush varies from garden to garden and from year to year.   Always look for a Second Flush Darjeeling from a Single Estate.

Lastly, note that only teas grown in the Darjeeling district can use the official "Darjeeling" logo below.