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I confess that I am not much of a tea drinker. Even after spending 7 years living in England I never developed a taste for tea. That may change after Darjeeling though.
So I tried Darjeeling tea because it is listed in the book 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die by Mimi Sheraton. She says that the foods she lists in her book are the tastes that every food lover should experience or dream about.
I am 22 foods in, and this is my #23 food. After 22 foods, I absolutely trust the judgment of Ms. Sheraton and am on a quest to try each and every one of these foods.
Where Does Darjeeling Tea Come From?
Darjeeling, also known as the "Champagne of Teas" comes from the TINY province of West Bengal, India. Very much like Champagne, which can only be true champagne if produced in the champagne region of France, Darjeeling can only be classed as Darjeeling tea according to some very stringent rules. It must be grown in specific tea gardens, on specific estates in specific jurisdictions in West Bengal.
True Darljeeling tea leaves are also hand picked on Himalayan slopes that are steep. The tea leaves come from the Chinese variety of the Camellia sinensis plant.
This is VERY SPECIAL TEA.
I learned that Darjeeling tea is grown and harvested according to "flushes."
- First Flush - around February to April or May
- Second Flush - June to mid-August
- Third Flush (Autumnal Flush) - October to November
The tea gives off different flavors according to the "flush" or time it was harvested. For example the taste and color of the tea from the first flush is lighter than second flush Darjeelings, which are darker and stronger.
A great article that goes in depth into this topic is "Tea Flushes in Darjeeling."
Sampling First Flush Darjeeling Tea
I decided to try one of the first flush Darjeelings, as my introduction to Darjeeling tea. I purchased Organic First Flush Darjeeling, by The Tao of Tea, on Amazon. To a novice tea drinker such as myself, the choice of Darjeelings available is a little overwhelming. So I opted to go with this one, and was not disappointed.
Here's what I learned about preparing my first cup of Darjeeling tea:
- Use spring or filtered water. I put my spring water in the fridge to cool it down as I read somewhere that you should start with cold water. I'm not convinced that it makes that much of a difference, but it didn't hurt to try!
- When trying Darjeeling for the first time, it is better to drink the tea with nothing added so that you can experience the full flavor of the tea.
- The water used to steep the tea leaves should not be over boiled...bring it just to the boil or just under boiling.
- The directions on the tea that I purchased from The Tao of Tea stated to use 1 ts of leaves in 8 oz of filtered water at 185F for 4 minutes. I followed this strictly, and as my taste runs toward stronger flavors, the next time I will brew for slightly longer.
- Be sure to INHALE the amazing aroma of the pure tea leaves, as well as the tea itself once brewed!
Brewing The Tea
I used this beautiful Teavana Double Wall Glass Tumbler With Stainless Steel Tea Strainer to brew my tea. However any tea pot should do just fine.
If you are super serious about your tea, Cuisinart has a tea kettle for you! This kettle has 6 preset heat settings for steeping tea at just the right temperature. We used to have one of these kettles. My husband (the tea drinker in the family) loved it and used it constantly. 🙂
After brewing, I enjoyed a delicious cup of First Flush Darjeeling! I can't wait to try a Second Flush Darjeeling next time!
1,000 Foods to Eat Project
Please follow along with me on this quest to try the 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die, from the book by Mimi Sheraton! Join me in this journey and discover new foods, experiences, and cuisines which I hope will add inspiration, fun, and joy to your life! For a list of the foods tried so far visit the 1,000 Foods to Eat Project page.
Darjeeling tea is #23 on my list of foods to try. 23 down, 977 to go!
If you'd like to follow along and be a part of the 1,000 Foods Project, please sign up to get the latest recipes and inspiration for you to expand your food comfort zone! It's an incredible journey, please join me by signing up here. 🙂
If you haven't tried Darjeeling, I hope you will do so and that you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or suggestions I would be honored if you would share them below!