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Darjeeling is a town not only known for its scenic beauty but also for the high-quality teas it produces. It hosts some of India's most famous and largest tea estates that produce all tea varieties like black, oolong, green, and white tea. Home to many legacy gardens, Darjeeling tea estates are known to hold tea plants that are over 100 years old.
Tea was introduced to India by Arthur Campbell in 1841 after which many tea nurseries were set up giving rise to the Darjeeling tea company in 1946. Darjeeling tea was the first tea to receive the GI tag and has somewhat become a part of the country's identity.
SPRING, SUMMER, AND AUTUMN TEAS
Darjeeling has 3 main harvest seasons; Spring, Summer, and Autumn. Each season produces a tea that is different from the other in taste and texture and flavour.
The spring harvest starts from February and lasts till April. Tea harvested in this period is processed for a short time and has a floral and fruity taste to it which is loved by many.
The peak harvest season in Darjeeling is the summer season that lasts until mid-June. It is during this season that speciality tea, muscatels, heralded as the ‘champagne’ of teas, is produced. This tea gets its name from the muscat grape flavour it has.
Autumn is the last harvest season, the tea produced during this time has a more woody and musky quality to it.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A DARJEELING TEA?
Darjeeling is known to produce some of the world’s best teas including the high-grade Lopchu tea. This tea is classic, delicate, has a particular sweetness to it and is loved by many tea connoisseurs.
Black teas were Darjeeling's pride and although the Darjeeling black tea is still famous and produced in large quantities, the 90 estates covering 17,500 hectares of land has made it possible to cultivate other tea types such as the green, white, and oolong teas too.
Organic and fresh, the Darjeeling green tea has many health benefits. The best Darjeeling teas are produced where the air is cold, rainfall is generous, the sun is temperate and the soil is sandy-loamy. This setup is only available at an elevation of 2500 - 5000 feet.
The Darjeeling tea garden is home to many chinary plants, as well as some novel clones. But no matter what tea plant the tea comes from, the teas are immensely fragrant, with an ability to make its drinker fall in love with every sip.
TYPES OF DARJEELING TEA
The Darjeeling tea estates now produce all the different tea types and each of these teas offer unique benefits to its drinker. Let's look at these tea types in detail.
Darjeeling Black Tea
Traditional Darjeeling black tea is the most famous type of tea produced in this region. The Darjeeling black tea is a fully oxidized tea made by using orthodox processing methods that include withering rolling, fermenting, and sorting. It has a dark colour with hints of fruity, nutty, flowery and spicy flavours.
Darjeeling Oolong Tea
The Darjeeling oolong tea is a semi-oxidized tea and is quite similar to traditional Chinese oolong tea that falls in between the black tea and green tea. It has a fruity aroma, is dark orange in colour with a green and muscatel flavour.
Darjeeling Green Tea
The Darjeeling green tea is dried and steamed but not fermented, allowing the tea to retain its natural nutrients. Rich in antioxidants that can kill cancer cells, the Darjeeling green tea is considered one of the most healthy teas of all. It is light green in colour with a slightly bitter taste.
Darjeeling White Tea
The Darjeeling white tea is the most delicate of all teas. The tea is first dried and then hand rolled which helps it retain its minerals and natural ingredients. It has a pale golden colour and a hint of natural sweetness.
DARJEELING TEA FLAVORS & SEASON
Darjeeling tea is harvested in 4 main seasons and each season produces tea that has a distinct flavour and texture. The first flush tea harvested in spring has a mild astringent taste. The second flush teas, which are harvested in the summer season have the distinct muscatel flavour giving the tea a lot of fans all over the world. Nowadays, Darjeeling teas come in different mixed flavours too like the Lopchu Golden Orange Pekoe Black Tea which has a smoky flavour and the Summer Chinary Black Tea, which has hints of grape flavours to it.
DARJEELING TEA GRADES
Darjeeling teas are graded depending on the size of the tea leaves (full leaf, broken etc). This to a large extent also determines the quality of the tea and therefore their price. The higher the grade, the higher the price. Here are the popular and different grades of Darjeeling teas :
- SFTGFOP: Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. These are whole leaf tea and of the highest grade.
- FTGBOP: Fine Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe. These are broken leaves
- GFOF: Golden Flowery Orange Fannings. Smaller than the broken leaves
- D: Dust. This is tea dust and is of the lowest grade and price.
Darjeeling teas are famous and well-loved not only in India but all over the world. It's unique flavour and quality have people singing its praises. If you haven't tried it yet, you should.
Health Benefits of Darjeeling Tea
Most teas are known to have many health benefits and Darjeeling teas, whether black, white, oolong or green tea, have benefits too. Consisting of powerful antioxidants, Darjeeling teas offer protective and curative properties that can improve overall health, here are a few other health benefits of Darjeeling tea:
- Prevents cancer: Darjeeling teas contain polyphenolic compounds and also has anti-mutagenic properties which can reduce the frequency of cellular mutations thereby reducing the risk of cancer.
- Promotes bone health: A study by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that Darjeeling tea can help increase bone density by at least 3% percent in older women if consumed regularly.
- Aids in weight loss: Being a low-calorie drink high in antioxidants that promote metabolism, Darjeeling tea can help in weight loss.
- Improves heart health: Darjeeling teas are rich in antioxidants like polyphenols. This reduces the oxidation of LDL cholesterol while also increases blood flow, which promotes heart health
Darjeeling tea and weight loss
If you're looking for a healthy alternative to those sugary drinks, try Darjeeling teas. A great low-calorie drink that will leave you feeling refreshed and light with every sip. Moreover, the catechins present in Darjeeling teas promotes metabolism which in turn can help burn up to 10 percent more calories than other teas, making it a great addition to your weight loss routine. When you buy Darjeeling tea, you are making a healthy choice, one that will not only help you with your weight loss goals but also leave you feeling light, satisfied and refreshed.
Caffeine Content in Darjeeling Tea
All teas have some amount of caffeine in them and so do Darjeeling teas. However, the caffeine content will depend on the type of Darjeeling tea you are consuming. The Darjeeling black tea contains approximately 20 to 34 mg of caffeine when brewed, however, Darjeeling green or oolong tea contains 9 to 19 mg caffeine. However, the caffeine content in all Darjeeling teas is still lower than that of coffee. So if you're looking for a hot beverage which is healthy and has less caffeine choose Darjeeling tea instead of coffee.
The freshness, aroma and health benefits of this tea will leave you wanting more. Make Darjeeling tea a part of your weight-loss diet and along with regular exercise, you'll see this tea work wonders for you.