Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Flight of teas! January 8th & 9th

This weekend we will be doing a flight of Darjeeling teas, a favorite of temporarily departing Tea Consultant Adam, who will be going to India with Alex Harney to teach hockey in the Himalayas through The Hockey Foundation to help improve the quality of life in the local communities.

Darjeeling, sometimes referred to as the "Queen of the Hills" that produces the "Champagne of Teas" is a Himalayan region in the Indian state of West Bengal (the same state as Calcutta/Kolkata, where the Indian Tea Market is based).  With over 10,000 miles of rivers, and the development of the paddle steamer, the interior of the state became accessible for agricultural production and shipping. Darjeeling is both a region and a town, in an area known as Gorkhaland that frequently deals with separatist movements, sometimes as a state level, sometimes at a national level.  This is not quite as intense as the situation in Assam, which frequently can be violent, but it is nonetheless a region with tension.

Mike Harney refers to Darjeeling as one of the "British Legacy Teas", along with Assam & Ceylon, as the British Empire introduced tea to Darjeeling in the mid 19th Century to find a way to produce cheaper tea than what was being purchased from China.   The varietal of tea is the same as those found in China, as opposed to a larger-leaf varietal found in Assam, and is harvested in three seasons: Spring (1st Flush), Summer (2nd Flush), Autumn (Autmunal Flush).  

Rolling Hills of Darjeeling Region

Harney & Sons Darjeeling teas to be featured as our flight for the weekend of January 8-9 are:

Okayti First Flush is a light and brisk tea with aromas of tropical fruit that was a bit of a surprise considering the drought that hit Darjeeling prior to picking season.  This is the type of Darjeeling tea that feels subtle at first, but lingers in the mouth and keeps you coming back for more.

Sungma Second Flush, First Flush Darjeelings, harvested in the Spring, are known for the brisk tastes and light tropical fruit flavors. Later in the year, the Second Flush Darjeelings are darker and more lush with muscatel flavors.

Darjeeling, a blend of First and Autumnal Flush Darjeelings. It has the fruitiness of the first flush with the body of the autumnal, a well balanced tea for any time of day.

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