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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 Mountain Mystic First Flush Tea

    Darjeeling Mountain Mystic First Flush Tea

    The fresh, grapefruit-like zesty aroma is balanced with muscatel grape and a 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. This is the best tasting Darjeeling of the season and comes from the Turzum garden. Learn More

    Earn 26 loyalty points.

  2. 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

    Earn 21 loyalty points.

  3. Darjeeling White Orchid First Flush Tea

    Darjeeling White Orchid First Flush Tea

    This Grand Cru tea has a green-golden, shimmering infusion which is smooth, fruity with a very fine fragrance. There are notes of geranium, mango, pomegranate, lotus, cherry blossom and pistachio. This premium harvest is considered to be one of the best of the season. Learn More
    From £20.00

    Earn 20 loyalty points.

  4. Darjeeling House of Green Leaves First Flush Tea

    Darjeeling House of Green Leaves First Flush Tea

    This rare, completely handmade tea has a golden-yellow infusion and is highly aromatic. It has a smooth, complex floral character with a freshly baked biscuit quality. The lively infusion sparkles and bursts with flavour in the mouth at once sweet, vanilla-like and jasmine, lavender floral. Mango, citrus, green apple and almond tones can also be picked out. All in all like a welcome burst of gentle Spring sunshine. Puttabong consistently produces the highest qualities with distinctive character. Previously listed as Puttabong Silver Sun Learn More
    From £16.00

    Earn 16 loyalty points.

  5. Darjeeling Himalayan Pride Second Flush Black Tea

    Darjeeling Himalayan Pride Second Flush Black Tea

    A delicious early second flush tea with a freshness normally found in first flush Darjeeling and a 'Muscatel' perfume and flavour. The complex flavour runs the range from honey to soft fruits to rose, camellia and green apples. It is smooth and light bodied with a pale orange infusion. Learn More
    From £13.00

    Earn 13 loyalty points.

  6. Darjeeling Leopard's Valley Second Flush Black Tea

    Darjeeling Leopard's Valley Second Flush Black Tea

    This rich liquoring infusion yields the classic 'muscatel' character with hints of almond or walnut and green apples depending on infusion time. The aroma has hints of peach and floral notes and caramelised sugar. All this and with a delightful honey finish. This blends the finest teas from Mim and Margaret's Hope gardens. Learn More
    From £12.00

    Earn 12 loyalty points.

  7. Darjeeling Muscatel Dream Second Flush Black Tea

    Darjeeling Muscatel Dream Second Flush Black Tea

    The complex range of flavours are described as having nuances of sweet cantaloupe, honey, fresh grapes, lychee, spice, dark fruit, burnt caramelised sugar, dried rose, camellia, the rich, nectar-like 'Muscatel' character and toasted, buttery finish. This is from the Mim garden and is one of the top 'muscatel' teas of the year. Learn More
    From £11.00

    Earn 11 loyalty points.

  8. Darjeeling Nine Hills First Flush Tea

    Darjeeling Nine Hills First Flush Tea

    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. Previously listed as Singbulli Silk Learn More
    From £9.00

    Earn 9 loyalty points.

  9. Darjeeling Mango Tree Garden Second Flush Black Tea

    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
    From £9.00

    Earn 9 loyalty points.

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