Darjeeling teas are often referred to as the ‘Champagne of teas’ as these teas exhibit distinct muscatel character.
The teas are characterized by the time during which these are plucked which lends typical characteristics to the tea. The plucking or tea harvesting season is known as Flush. This is one of the main criteria in understanding the need and the buying choices.
Typically, Darjeeling tea has three major Flushes.
First Flush (Mid March to May) are among the world’s most prized teas. Oxidation is mixed and leaf is greenish brown. It has delicate and mild flavor, unless it is over-brewed, and there is bit of astringency. It has clear bright pale lemon liquor and taste has a long lingering effect. If you enjoy light delicate flavor and taste then first flush will be a good choice.
Second Flush teas (June to mid August) are more oxidized, rounder, more full-bodied, less astringent, heavier muscatel tones and good amount of tip. Flavors are more pronounced and overall teas have a fruity-floral character. These are considered the best and most saleable teas.
Third Flush or Autumn Flush (October to November) are fuller bodied deeper colored leaf and liquor although the liquor is little pail compared to the first two flush. If you like drinking tea with milk- second and third or Autumn flush teas will be a good choice.
Darjeeling produces all types of teas and the black teas are the most famous of the lot.
The whole leaf black teas are the best quality teas and are sold as loose-leaf teas, while broken, fanning and dust are used for everyday loose-leaf of tea and teabags.
Whole Leaf SFTGFOP / (Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) is the finest grade tea that’s multi-tipped and produces light colored liquor.
Broken Leaf FTGBOP (Fine Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe) has somewhat broken leaves but is still termed as high quality.
Tea Type Fannings GFOF/ (Golden Flowery Orange Fannings) are inferior quality teas that are cheaper in price and yield darker liquor. Tea Type Dust (D) are lowest in price and yield the most inferior quality tea.
Taste is a personal preference, but having some knowledge of the leaf quality can all be useful in deciding which teas are for you.