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Deep Dive

What is Darjeeling First Flush?

Many of us may naively assume that Darjeeling, being a region in Bengal, India, is hot all year round. However, this district lies at the foothills at the Himalayas. Unlike many tea growing regions, Darjeeling has a temperate climate, which means the tea harvest is seasonal.  

Whilst spring and summer enjoy reliably warm temperatures to grow and harvest tea, winters in Darjeeling are not too dissimilar to those in the UK, with the average temperature from November to February being 0-7C. Due to these cold temperatures during these months, the tea plants go into hibernation and all harvesting ceases. 

During hibernation, the plants store energy and nutrients which are then used to aid the growth of the first spring leaves. The leaves which are harvested in the first flush start their growth in the late winter months. Due to the stress caused by colder temperatures and reduced sunlight, the tree needs to use more of its energy to grow these leaves, which creates the unique flavours distinctive to the First Flush.  

Once the spring sunshine returns and the temperatures rise, the tea plants come back to life and able to be harvested.  

The very first tea plucking of that year’s harvest is known as the First Flush and signifies the start of a new season and their arrival is a highly anticipated event in the annual tea calendar. 


What does Darjeeling First Flush taste like?  

Cup of Darjeeling First Flush tea


Teas from Darjeeling can be difficult to pigeonhole. Darjeeling is a region, rather than a type of tea, although the terms are often used interchangeably. However, most first flush Darjeeling teas are processed using black tea making methods, meaning the leaves are allowed to oxidise. Unlike other famous black teas like Ceylon or Assam, Darjeeling first flush will be much greener in the visual leaf and the cup colour will be much lighter and more yellowy / orangey.  

The first flush teas are delicate, crisp and flavourful, offering green, fruity notes, and the tea has a natural sweetness to it, and the aroma is fresh and floral. Darjeeling First Flush is a bright tea with elements of greenness coupled with subtle astringency with a sweet undertone. 

The First Flush Darjeeling teas are even more special due to the natural chemicals the tea plants produced during the hardship of the winter months.  

Darjeeling can be enjoyed hot or chilled, and its sweet taste and light brew means you won't need to add milk, sugar or sweeteners! 

The colour of the infused liquid or the cup colour is typically light to dark golden yellow.  


 The Region 

Hills of Darjeeling

Darjeeling has a temperate climate with wet summers that are prone to monsoon precipitation. The name ‘Darjeeling’ stems from the Tibetan term for ‘Land of the Thunderbolt’. The unique agro-climatic conditions in the region result in a distinctive natural tea flavour.  

Darjeeling consists of hills and plains that contain forests, rivers and farmland. The hill area of Darjeeling is formed of rock structures and are prone to landslides caused by heavy monsoon rain. The soils in this area are extremely varied depending on the degree of slope, elevation, geo-lithology, and vegetative cover. Hence, each tea garden produces a unique flavour of tea, which takes its qualities from the nutrients of the soil. 



The region spans roughly 3000 square kilometres, a very small area of India’s total 3.3 million, making it roughly the same size as Staffordshire, but with a population of nearly 1.6 million inhabitants.  

The region only produces around produces only around 1% of the total amount of tea made in India each year. Hence, Darjeeling teas, are an exclusive tea variety that must be savoured.  

Tea production started in this region when keen botanist Dr Archibald Campbell, a keen botanist, experimented with growing tea plants with seeds from China. These attempts were successful, and the Darjeeling tea industry quickly took off, bringing in many workers from nearby areas. Several ethnic and cultural groups inhabit this region. The most spoken languages are Nepali, Bengali and Hindi, and the largest religion is Hinduism.  


Darjeeling and Climate Change 

Darjeeling First Flush Loose Leaf Tea

Like most of the world, Darjeeling has experienced extreme weather in recent years, from record high temperatures in the summer months, to both droughts and floods.  

Tea is a robust agricultural crop, and can grow outside of its optimal conditions, but if the summer temperatures are severe and the rain patterns in particular are increasingly unpredictable, the crop will struggle, and the harvest will be impacted. Too much rainfall in areas without adequate irrigation will result in flooding and weaken the flavour of the tea leaves. At the other extreme, a lack of sufficient rainfall will cause the plants to die.  


Jungpana Darjeeling First Flush 

Jungpana Darjeeling First Flush

This lightly oxidised black tea boasts a plethora of green leaves and silver tips and a stunning, golden-yellow liquor, with a fresh and fruity flavour and a bold but balanced astringency and a wonderful aroma, producing a delightfully delicate brew.  

This secluded tea estate is located in Kurseong, Darjeeling, and was established by Henry Montgomery Lennox in 1899. It is a remote location on the rugged mountain-side, and lush pine forests and fresh mountain springs envelop the estate.  

The unique micro-climate is hospitable to a range of a flora and fauna, ranging from rare species of birds and butterflies, Indian leopards and Himalayan black bears.  


Okayti Darjeeling First Flush 

Okayti Estate Darjeeling First Flush Loose Leaf

The Okayti Darjeeling First Flush we are offering this spring 2024 is a superb black tea, with floral and vegetal notes and a wonderful fresh aroma. The leaves of this tea are delicately twisted with beautiful silver tips.  

The Okayti Tea Estate, located in the Mirik Valley. is one of the oldest in the region, dating back to the 1870s. The estate itself spreads over 1600 acres of land, with an elevation range of 1220m to 1890m, and is surrounded by tall pine trees which provide the workers and the tea plants with shade on sunny days. 

The First Flush is harvested in spring by the estate’s skilled workers, who carefully pluck the leaves and the bud so as not to break them, and then take them to the factory to be processed. The factory dates to 1888 and is one of the oldest still in use.  


Glenburn White Moonshine First Flush  

Glenburn White Moonshire Darjeeling First Flush Loose leaf

A stunning rare white tea from Darjeeling, our loose-leaf Glenburn White Moonshine is a sublimely floral first flush from one of India’s best loved estates. These much-desired tea leaves provide a delicate, refreshing cup, with a flavour reminiscent of spring flowers and fresh fruit.  

The leaves feature elegantly curled silver tips and mossy green buds, emblematic of the season and the region from where they were harvested. 

The Gleburn tea estate is situated above the river Rungeet, in the foothills of Kanchenjunga, the third-highest mountain in the world.  

The estate was founded in 1859 and has been in the ownership of the Prakash family for several generations and has been held in high esteem for decades due to the quality of its produce.  


How to enjoy our Darjeeling First Flush.

This fabulous trio of single-estate Dareeling First Flush teas are best enjoyed as loose-leaf teas. We offer a range of convenient, easy to use teapots and infuser mugs. 

We have our sleek and modern Classic Teapots, perfect for showing off your luxury teas to admiring friends. 

Our Infuser Mug is designed for loose-leaf teas, and is perfect for brewing a Darjeeling First Flush tea and having bit of peace and quiet by yourself. 

We also offer our No. 8 Darjeeling House Blend First Flush, which is also available in teabags!



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