Darjeeling Tea: A Comprehensive Guide

Darjeeling tea, a variety of tea grown in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India, is one of the most popular teas worldwide. Known for its unique processing methods that result in black, green, white, and oolong teas, Darjeeling tea is made from the Chinese tea plant Camellia sinensis. In this article, we will explore the history, varieties, and production of Darjeeling tea.


Darjeeling tea production began in the mid-19th century when a British civil surgeon named Dr. Campbell planted tea seeds in the region. The tea industry in Darjeeling rapidly grew and attracted many entrepreneurs. Today, Darjeeling tea is famous for its quality, taste, and aroma.

Production and Varieties

Darjeeling tea is harvested in three major flushes and two minor flushes, with each flush resulting in a different taste, color, and aroma. The first flush takes place between mid-March and May, the second flush is from June to mid-August, and the third flush (also known as the autumn flush) occurs between October and November. The in-between flush is two weeks between the first and second flushes, while the monsoon flush is between the second and third flushes during September.

The processing methods for Darjeeling tea are unique and depend on the flush. The tea leaves can be processed to create black, green, white, or oolong tea. Darjeeling black tea has undergone full fermentation, oolongs are semi-fermented, and Darjeeling green tea is not fermented at all. Darjeeling first flush tea has a light and clear color with a flowery scent, while the second flush has a dark, amber color and strong flavor with a muscatel grape taste. Autumn Darjeeling leaves are larger, resulting in a dark or coppery colored tea.

Caffeine Content and Brewing

Darjeeling tea has a caffeine content of around 50 milligrams per 8-fluid-ounce cup, higher than green tea but lower than black Assam tea. It is best enjoyed during the midmorning or early afternoon, and should be avoided in the late afternoon or evening for those with caffeine sensitivities. To prepare Darjeeling tea, add 1 teaspoon of high-quality loose-leaf Darjeeling tea into a warmed teapot, pour boiled water over the tea, and steep for three minutes. Darjeeling tea is best enjoyed without milk, sugar, or lemon.

Buying and Storing

Darjeeling tea can be purchased loose or in tea bags from grocery stores, coffee/tea shops, or online retailers. However, the tea is sensitive to moisture, heat, direct sunlight, and strong odors, so it is best stored in a sealed container in a dark pantry. Darjeeling tea is best consumed within two years of harvesting.

In conclusion, Darjeeling tea is a unique and popular tea variety known for its distinct flushes, taste, and aroma. With its rich history and unique processing methods, Darjeeling tea remains a favorite among tea connoisseurs worldwide.

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