Darjeeling Tea: One of the Most Delicious Black Tea from India

 By: Peter Zhang
What Is Darjeeling Tea
According to the Tea Board of India, "Darjeeling Tea" means: tea which has been cultivated, grown, produced, manufactured and processed in tea gardens in the hilly areas of Sadar Sub-Division, only hilly areas of Kalimpong Sub-Division consisting of Samabeong Tea Estate, Ambiok Tea Estate, Mission Hill Tea Estate and Kumai Tea Estate and Kurseong Sub-Division excluding the areas in jurisdiction list 20,21,23,24,29,31 and 33 comprising Siliguri subdivision of New Chumta Tea Estate, Simulbari and Marionbari Tea Estate of Kurseong Police Station in Kurseong Sub-Division of the District of Darjeeling in the State of West Bengal, India grown on picturesque steep slopes up to 4000 ft. The Tea has to be processed and manufactured in a factory located in the aforesaid area, which, when brewed, has a distinctive, naturally occurring aroma and taste with light tea liquor and the infused leaf of which has a distinctive fragrance.

Darjeeling Tea History
Dr. Campbell was credited introducing tea to Darjeeling. As a civil surgeon of the Indian Medical Service, Campbell was transferred to Darjeeling in 1839. He used seeds from China to begin experimental tea planting in Darjeeling during 1841. The experiment continued during the 1840s by him and others. The Indian government also established tea nurseries during that period. The commercial development of tea production didn't begin until 1850s.

Darjeeling Tea Varieties
Traditionally, Darjeeling tea is classified as a type of black tea. It is prized above all other black teas in the global tea market, especially in the United Kingdom and the countries comprising the former British Empire. However, the modern Darjeeling style employs a hard withering (35-40% remaining leaf weight after withering). This process results in an incomplete oxidation for the tea. Thus it makes the tea fall into oolong tea category. Furthermore, a number of Darjeeling teas also appear to be a blend of teas oxidized to levels of green, oolong, and black. A growing number of estates are also producing white teas.

Darjeeling Tea Grades
Darjeeling teas are sold and graded by size and quality. The grades fall into four basic groups: whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings, and dust.

Darjeeling TEa Estates
There are only 86 tea estates (also called tea gardens) producing Darjeeling Tea. All of these are in Darjeeling District. Only the tea grown and produced from these estates can be called Darjeeling tea. Tea from anywhere else in the world can't be called Darjeeling tea.

Some of the popular estates include Arya, Chamong, Glenburn, Lingia, Castleton, Jungpana, Makaibari, Margaret's Hope and Risheehat. The annual production of Darjeeling tea is approximately 10 million kg.

Why Is Darjeeling Tea So Exclusive
Darjeeling is located on the Northern part of West Bengal, India. It is nestled in the foothills of the snow-covered Himalayan range. Darjeeling tea is planted at altitudes ranging from 600 to 2,000 meters. The unique flavor and exquisite bouquet of Darjeeling tea is originated from the cool and moist climate, the fertile soil and the plenty of rainfall. The sloping terrains give the tea fields natural water and fertilizer distributions. When properly brewed, Darjeeling tea yields thin-bodied, light-colored liquor with a naturally floral aroma. The flavor also displays a tinge of astringent tannic characteristics and a musky spiciness. Tea connoisseurs call it "muscatel." These unmatched natural factors give Darjeeling tea its unique distinction that can't be duplicated anywhere else in the world. Darjeeling tea has won the reputation of the "Champagne of Teas".
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