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Darjeeling Tea

Darjeeling tea, high quality tea, buy tea online | Imperial Teas

Surrounded by the majesty of the Himalaya's famous mountains, where earth meets heaven, in the lush valleys at altitudes up to 2159 metres, dotted with temples where prayers are written, amidst breathtaking beauty and mystery, lies the land of Darjeeling. In the native language of Lepcha this is known as the 'Land of the Thunderbolt' and the prestigious teas grown here are rightly considered among the world's best.

Some would say they are a tea without equal. At their best it would be hard to disagree. They are grown in a small area made up of eighty gardens in the foothills of the Himalayas. There are seven valleys where tea is grown, named East Darjeeling or Golden Valley, West Darjeeling, Mirik, Teesta, Rungbong and North and South Kurseong which means Land of White Orchids. Often referred to as the 'Champagne of Tea', there are a number of factors contributing to its quality. The altitude of up to 8000ft, the perfect balance of sun and rain, rich, well drained soil, fragrant air and in the best types the use of the original slow growing chinese tea bushes.

This hardy, evergreen shrub takes four to six years to mature and will yield fine, flavoursome tea for well over 100 years with good care. This is natures contribution, unique to Darjeeling's Seven Valleys but without the considerable nurture and manufacturing skills used at the best plantations the tea would not become complete. Plucking begins in March and closes by late November. Each tea bush in the estate is plucked every 4 to 7 days depending on the season. A hectare of garden yields around 500kgs of dry tea with each bush yielding only 100 grams of made tea in a year. It takes over 20,000 individually hand picked shoots to make a kilogram of tea. It is little wonder that Darjeeling is held in such high esteem, having gifted the world with the finest teas, flavoured by nature and for over 100 years nurtured with uncommon skill and excellence.

The three most important crops of Darjeeling are known as First Flush or 'Spring' teas, picked in March and April, Second Flush or 'Summer' teas, picked mid June to mid July and Autumnal, picked in November. The period between these peak times are considered main crop but of little interest in terms of quality. Darjeeling tea leaves are processed in the traditional "Orthodox" way. The inherent sensitive nature of the finely plucked, green leaf responds best to gentle treatment. Although differing leaf varieties require intricate variations in processing, the stages undergone are uniform. Once the leaf reaches the factory, it is withered. The object is to evaporate moisture from the leaf slowly over a period of 14 to 16 hours. The leaf becomes limp so as to withstand twisting and rolling under pressure without crumbling. Liquor characteristics also begin to develop following physical and chemical changes within the leaf structure.

The green leaves are segregated according to type and spread evenly on wire mesh screens fitted over specially designed troughs which resemble very long wooden boxes. Each trough is an air chamber which enables fresh dry air to be passed in a regulated manner through the green leaves till the desired "wither" is achieved. 65% of the water content is removed from the leaf at this stage. The withered leaf is then removed from the trough and rolled under pressure, resulting in release of natural juices that promote oxidation and pigmentation.The leaf is thinly spread in a cool, well ventilated room to slowly ferment. This is the stage in which the unique flavour of Darjeeling Tea develops over two to four hours. The experienced tea maker judges the extent of quality development from the fragrance progressively expressed by the leaf at regular intervals. Once the fermentation is done, the rolled leaf is taken for drying (firing) to arrest further fermentation and to remove almost all the remaining water content from the leaf. The dried tea is crisp and finally graded and packed according to size and quality. For further information see the next categories for each of these types.

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  1. Darjeeling Tukvar

    Darjeeling Tukvar

    One of our regular customers grew up on this beautiful plantation, now known as Puttabong, except locally where it is still called Tukvar. It offers some magnificent teas and this one will not disappoint with its subtle notes of almond and fruits. Planted in 1852 this was the first tea estate in the history of Darjeeling tea plantations. The garden employs 1,476 workers who are provided with all the amenities such as healthcare, housing and social upliftment. In March 1992, a Shiv-Gauri temple was built for worship by the local people. It also has the best Garden Hospital in Darjeeling. Learn More
    £5.50 per 100g

    Earn 6 loyalty points.

  2. Darjeeling Pussimbing Summer Haze

    Darjeeling Pussimbing Summer Haze

    An exclusive batch of Pussimbing garden's finest 'muscatel' summer tea. Full of the sun, this ripe tea is luscious in the mouth with a fragrant and refreshing character. Second flush doesn't get much better or more exclusive. It is another outstanding flavored tea. Pussimbing Tea Estate is located in the Darjeeling East Valley at an altitude ranging from 1770 metres to 2560 metres. Learn More

    £9.00 per 100g As low as: £6.50

    Earn 9 loyalty points.

  3. Darjeeling Bannockburn Supreme

    Darjeeling Bannockburn Supreme

    Bannockburn is one of the oldest gardens in Darjeeling and is an organic garden. The silver tipped leaves yield a fragrant cup with subtle hints of muscatel and walnut. The garden is found in the West Valley of Darjeeling. Bannockburn Garden was founded in 1860 and is renowned for producing teas of a consistently high quality.

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    £22.00 per 100g As low as: £6.50

    Earn 22 loyalty points.

  4. Darjeeling Upper Namring

    Darjeeling Upper Namring

    Upper Namring is one of a large group of plantations in the Teesta Valley. It produces great teas in all seasons and this autumnal type is smooth and spicy in character with a mellow finish. The garden was first planted with Chinese bushes in 1855 and it is this and fine manufacturing that creates its wonderful leaf appearance.

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    £6.80 per 100g

    Earn 7 loyalty points.

  5. Darjeeling Naturally Decaffeinated

    Darjeeling Naturally Decaffeinated

    This naturally decaffeinated Darjeeling has a mild, flowery flavour with a light copper coloured cup. Learn More
    £6.90 per 100g

    Earn 7 loyalty points.

  6. Darjeeling Liza Hill Silver Blossom

    Darjeeling Liza Hill Silver Blossom

    Silver Blossom is a speciality of the Liza Hill division of the Risheehat garden. It is a smooth, silky tea with great green spring freshness. It is light in colour but offers up a flavoursome, delicate flowery tea in both taste and aroma. Learn More
    £7.00 per 100g

    Earn 7 loyalty points.

  7. Darjeeling Risheehat Heavenly Muscatel

    Darjeeling Risheehat Heavenly Muscatel

    Elderflower, roses, tangerine, mandarin...just a few of the flavours and fragrances picked out by our discerning customers in this tantalising tea. Naturally, it is defined by its 'Muscatel' character but I think it is one of the few teas that is intriguingly different every time that you brew it. Learn More
    £7.00 per 100g

    Earn 7 loyalty points.

  8. Darjeeling Jungpana Muscatel

    Darjeeling Jungpana Muscatel

    Jungpana is a tiny, beautiful and renowned garden in the Mahanadi district close to the river. The garden is on a steep slope next to the fine Goomtee garden. It is incredibly remote and only accessible by foot which also plays a part in its scant supply. This rich liquoring infusion yields the classic 'muscatel' character with hints of almond or walnut depending on infusion time. The aroma has hints of peach and floral notes. All this and with a delightful honey finish. Learn More
    £14.00 per 100g As low as: £7.15

    Earn 14 loyalty points.

  9. Darjeeling Castleton Divine Muscatel

    Darjeeling Castleton Divine Muscatel

    A delicious tea bursting with 'Muscatel' perfume and flavour from this famous garden's second flush. Castleton situated in the Kurseong Valley is one of the most revered gardens in Darjeeling and is bought at great prices by Japanese merchants for its name alone. Learn More
    £12.00 per 100g As low as: £7.15

    Earn 12 loyalty points.

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