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Darjeeling Tea

Darjeeling Tea | 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 Pussimbing Supreme 'Summer Haze'

    Darjeeling Summer Thunder Second Flush Black Tea

    This tea has a mellow, smooth, sweet tasting liquor that is full in the mouth and has a strong body. It has a typical nutty character found in second flush Darjeeling with hints of papaya, amber, geranium, plum and chestnut. Singbulli is one of Darjeeling's top gardens. Learn More
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  2. Darjeeling Liza Hill Silver Blossom

    Darjeeling Liza Hill Silver Blossom

    This late spring tea carries some of the early bud fragrances of elderflower and blackberry with just a hint of fresh, spring greens, mown grass and a touch of cinnamon.This smooth, silky tea with has a great green spring freshness. It is pale amber in colour and offers up a flavoursome, intense, flowery tea in both taste and aroma. Silver Blossom is a speciality of the Liza Hill division of the Risheehat garden. Learn More
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  3. Darjeeling Balasun Classic

    Darjeeling Wild River First Flush Tea

    This is a slightly richer charactered tea for the First Flush with notes of orange blossom, fresh cut grass, wildflower hay, grapefruit, hazelnut and a subtle, honeyed spiciness. Learn More
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  4. arjeeling Puttabong Eagle's Hide Muscatel

    Darjeeling Eagle's Hide Second Flush Black Tea

    This tea has a complex character and an almost rose scented quality to the prominent spicy flavour. It is a tea to be relished. These bushes grow at over 6000ft and the perfect climate, shifting between fog and sunshine reduces the growing speed of the tea plants to guarantee an extremely high-quality tea. The second flush term refers to teas plucked during May to June in the gardens of Darjeeling. Each ‘invoice’ from the 90 or so gardens is unique and amounts to approximately just 90kgs. Learn More
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  5. Darjeeling Summer Rose Second Flush Black Tea

    Darjeeling Summer Rose Second Flush Black Tea

    This tea has such a complex, astounding, rich, ripe fragrance that I cannot describe it well enough to do it justice! I have noticed nuances of honey, vanilla, peach, orange, musk rose, nectarine, quince, lichee among many others. The picturesque Phuguri garden in the Mirik Valley grows the rare and best clonal tea bush variety known as AV2. This clone produces the best tasting Darjeeling but will only grow in a small number of places there. The flavour is as exquisite as the aroma so if you like Darjeeling you simply must try this. Phuguri is a bio-organic garden. Learn More

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  6. Darjeeling Turzum Mountain Mystic DJ3

    Darjeeling Turzum Mountain Mystic DJ3

    In my opinion the best garden in Darjeeling, with their second flush 'Muscatel Dream' among the best teas in the world. The fresh, grapefruit like zesty aroma is balanced with muscatel grape and hint of something almost cinnamon like. The pale yellow yet rich liquor sits like a satisfying white wine on the tongue, with a layered palette of exotic fruit flavours, such as guava and nectarine and with the characteristic First Flush oil of wintergreen freshness. Learn More

    Earn 16 loyalty points.

  7. Darjeeling Naturally Decaffeinated

    Darjeeling Naturally Decaffeinated Black Tea

    Decaffeinated using the safe method of CO2, which also leaves more of the flavour quality in the leaf. It is mild, with notes of flowers and honey, a copper coloured cup and pleasant fragrance. Learn More
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  8. Darjeeling Singbulli Silk

    Darjeeling First Flush Singbulli Silk

    The special thing about this tea and unusually for a First Flush is the hint of 'Muscatel' sweetness in the aftertaste. There are also notes of pomelo, apricot, green almond and orchid. This is one of the best First Flush teas of the season, particularly in the Chinese leaf category. It is a beautifully prepared leaf with lots of silvery, silky buds in the mix. The infusion is a lovely, bright yellow with a fresh aroma. Learn More
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  9. Darjeeling Risheehat Heavenly Muscatel

    Darjeeling Mango Tree Garden Second Flush Black Tea

    Elderflower, roses, cherry, tangerine, mandarin, tonka bean, freesia, Medjool dates...just a few of the flavours and fragrances picked out by our discerning customers in this tantalising tea. It has a sweet 'muscatel' fragrance and I think it is one of the few teas that is intriguingly different every time that you brew it. Its strength is balanced by its light, flowery taste. Learn More
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