Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First Flush

Darjeeling tea field 

I thought I was done blogging about Darjeeling, but it's first flush season!!!  :-)  What does that mean, "first flush" season?  And why do people get so excited about it?

First Flush refers to the first growth spurt of the tea bush after the winter rest period.  Picking begins when the tea bush says it's ready and that date varies each year.  Generally, picking is underway by mid March.  First flush teas are the most expensive of the Darjeeling teas.  When I was in India we had a discussion of why this was so.  It is due, in large part, to the intensive efforts required to grow among the steep hills in Darjeeling.  The input required to grow the tea is large and the output per acres is less than other growing regions.  And yet....that first flush tea is very unique in its flavor profile (floral and astringent), it's like nothing else.  Because of this uniqueness, first flush Darjeeling tea is coveted and collected.

Darjeeling tea pickers, taken as we traveled down the mountain

It's worth noting that not everyone loves the flavor of first flush Darjeeling tea.  Some people prefer second or later flushes.  If you have the opportunity, sample a first flush Darjeeling side-by-side with a second flush.  You'll quickly note the differences. 

I'm planning a first flush 2012 order!  I don't expect it to arrive until about May - but you can bet I'll write about it then!


Karen said...

Lovely photos, Steph! You know how much I love first flush Darjeeling. Thanks for sharing! :)

Rosemary said...

Beautiful post - so envious of your travels!

Linda J. said...

Beautiful photos and post. I am so glad for you that you experienced this fabulous trip. What wonderful memories!

Marilyn said...

I usually prefer a second flush Darjeeling, but just finished an aged first flush Margaret's Hope that was pretty good. Loved seeing your pictures and seeing the tea ladies of Darjeeling.

Angela McRae said...

What gorgeous photos! I'll have to try your suggestion about comparing first and second flushes. Good idea!

Dr. Sunita Banerji said...

The “second flush” is harvested in June; these teas are fuller-bodied with an amber color and a slightly fruity taste.