As I may have mentioned before, I normally don’t drink black tea. I received a first flush Darjeeling from Lupicia as a gift and I decided to try it. It was absolutely amazing. The flavor was so fruity and complex, I had never tasted anything like it. There were some subtle notes of honey, even though there was nothing added to this tea whatsoever. I also thought that this tea tasted a bit like apricot. I tend to say that about black teas but no one seems to agree with me. Either way, I think it is a great way to describe the flavor.
Why is Darjeeling Black Tea so Good?
Darjeeling is basically considered royalty in the tea world. It is grown in the West Bengal region of India which is a hotspot for teas due to its ideal amount of rainfall and high elevation. Unlike most Indian varieties, it comes from the small leaved Chinese strain of Camelia sinensis, allowing it to maintain a much lighter flavor. For this reason, it is known as “the champagne of teas” because its color is much lighter than others in the same category. For instance, a green tea will be a very pale yellow when brewed and a black tea will produce an amber color. Another reason for its nickname is the fact that there are very distinct floral and even fruity aromas that come from Darjeeling tea. These teas are the easiest to identify and also the most fun to identify.
Darjeeling Grading System
The reason that Darjeeling is so much fun is that they have the most ridiculous grading system in all of the tea world. I have yet to tell someone this without them thinking it was a joke, but here goes: OP (Orange Pekoe) is the most basic classification of Darjeeling, FOP (Flowery Orange Pekoe) is one level above, GFOP (Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) is the next highest, TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) is the level after that, FTGFOP (Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) is the second highest grade and the highest is SFTGFOP (Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. If that seems like too much for you to keep track of, just keep in mind the joke FTGFOP (Far Too Good For Ordinary People) to describe anything past a certain level. Does this grading scale matter to you and me? Of course not. Is it fun to make fun of? You bet it is!If anyone is curious to learn more about the grading of Darjeeling or tea grading in general, please let me know in the comments below. I’d be happy to publish another article just on the different ways of grading tea if people are interested, but I want to focus on this particular tea.
I found that this tea provided me with an excellent drinking experience. It was a cold winter morning in my apartment and I was sitting with a book reading and sipping this tea. I was completely enamored by the taste of this tea, so much so that I had to put down my book and just focus on the tea. I wanted to study it more because it was my first time trying this variety. I had had many different types of Darjeeling green tea before but never a Darjeeling black tea. I would like to explore this a little more and try different varieties but until then I will absolutely enjoy my Lupicia first flush Darjeeling. If you want to purchase the same one as me, it’s available at Amazon for a reasonable price.
All You Need to Know about Darjeeling
All you need to know for right now about the difference between first flush and second flush is that the first flush is harvested earlier in the season and the second flush is harvested later. The first flush has a much lighter flavor and color while the second flush picks up a dark reddish amber along with a “muscatel” flavoring. I'm sure you will see this word at some point in your tea shopping experience so that’s what it means.
To brew this tea, you want to set the temperature a little bit lower than boiling in order for it to retain its more delicate flavor and aroma. I recommend a temperature of 190 degrees and 3 to 5 minutes of steep time. This should be enough to extract the flavor of the black tea, without jeopardizing the delicate floral aroma it’s so well known for. Darjeeling is one of the more talked about varieties of tea, so it is important to build up a few experiences of this tea so you have something to talk about with the real tea aficionados. If you want to share your Darjeeling experience or you are interested in learning more about Darjeeling, please add to the comments section below. Otherwise, I’ll see you next time. Enjoy the tea!