Golden threads of morning sun pass through the misty shroud. The honeyed light casts a mosaic glow on the vast verdant tea slopes, reflecting off each leaf and wisp of cloud, the scene speckled by tea pickers working their way through the rows. The after-shower aroma of the terrain wafts through the chilly spring breeze and the day begins to unfold.
Welcome to the foothills of the Himalayan Plateaus, home to the finest Darjeeling First Flush harvests.
The name stems from two Tibetan expressions: dorje, meaning thunderbolt and ling, which represents a place or land. Also referred to as the champagne of teas, Darjeeling is grown and harvested in a unique combination of altitude, soil, rainfall and temperature that fashions some of the most expensive and rare black teas in the world, complete with a distinct quality and flavour that cannot be replicated elsewhere.
What exactly is First Flush tea?
First Flush, Second Flush, Rain Flush and Autumn Flush: these indicate the four Darjeeling tea seasons throughout the year. Each flush takes advantage of the newest growth on the tea bush and reflects the seasonal effects on the leaves as the tea bush matures.
The First Flush is the picking of the plant in its earliest spring growth, and these early leaves are comparatively more delicate and tender, which translates to a very light hue of orange in the liquor and a much milder tasting brew.
TWG Tea’s Darjeeling First Flush Teas are celebrated for their complex flavours and deep, rich aromas. This year, the 2021 Darjeeling Nouveau cements this Darjeeling varietal as the King of Black Teas, armed with distinctive notes of ripe fruits and nuts with every brew. Its leaves are dark olive hue with silvery tips which then develops into a honey-golden infusion with a unique, peachy muscatel taste.
How is Darjeeling First Flush Tea produced?
Darjeeling tea production is incredibly labour-intensive. At TWG Tea, the tea leaves are harvested entirely by hand, and only the two leaves and a bud combination is picked. While this ensures the highest quality of the tea, the process requires an arduous amount of additional work and focus for the tea pickers. To put matters in perspective, it’ll take approximately 20,000 to 22,000 shoots to produce one kilogram of Darjeeling tea.
“What happens in organic farming is that we let Mother Nature take care of the tea plant and we follow her rules. We don’t violate the rules of nature, we live with nature.”
The secret behind a very fine Darjeeling tea is its details. Each stage of the process cannot be neglected: from the quality of the tea bushes, its surrounding climate and the right soil conditions all the way through to the farming, plucking and manufacturing practices — each pulls its own weight in fashioning a phenomenal cup of Darjeeling First Flush Tea.
It isn’t just the hand-picked process of the tea that makes TWG Tea’s Darjeeling First Flush Harvest so exceptional. It’s easy to get caught up in creating a product for the consumer that’s just “good enough” — but to craft one out of respect for its roots, and the Earth that provides is an entirely different story.
The commitment to sustainability doesn’t just lie in TWG Tea’s organic farming practices. Here, they’re committed to sourcing directly from carefully selected plantations and estates, which in turns reduces the freight and carbon footprint of importing these teas. Good labour practices also form the basis of these sources. TWG Tea establishes preferential partnerships with renowned planters that take incredible care of their workers, all of whom are highly skilled, trained and experienced.
Varieties of TWG Tea’s Darjeeling First Flush Harvest 2021
The name of the Darjeeling tea pays homage to its region. Here, the Darjeeling region of India finds itself meandering through lofty ridges and sunken mountain valleys, and its challenging geography is also what makes Darjeeling a prized brew.
Apart from the 2021 Darjeeling Nouveau, the TWG Tea First Flush Harvest encompasses a multitude of varietals across the spectrum of Darjeeling tea in its range.
The Okayati Excellence SFTGFOP1, for instance, hails from the heathered highlands in Okayti, nestled in a grand estate with roots from 1888. Here, the organic pistachio-green rolled leaves charms with scents of fruity bouquet and buttery aromas. The preferred tea of Queen Victoria, this Darjeeling varietal brings to the tongue lasting notes of mango, papaya and guava, which then rounds off with an aftertaste of grassy meadows and wild flower.
The Puttabong SFTGFOP1, on the other hand, originates from the illustrious Puttabong, the first known tea estate in Darjeeling’s history. Established in 1852, it finds fame in Darjeeling’s history to produce teas that fetched world record prices. Each harvest sees pine-green leaves with a delightful stone fruit aroma that infuses into a sunset-golden cup, with each sip channelling the subtle aftertaste of ripe orchard fruits.
Another varietal to look out for? The Phuguri FTGFOP1, an exclusive TWG Tea first flush harvest. One of the most fragrant Darjeeling teas, this brew bewitches the senses to conjure up the scene of the perfect alfresco afternoon. It builds on aroma of deep red summer fruits, before yielding a potent punch of green almond that’ll awaken your taste buds and leave a lingering aftertaste of hazelnut.
The Darjeeling First Flush Harvest Teas are available from 22 April 2021 for a limited period on the TWG Tea website here, the TWG Tea Salons & Boutiques in Singapore and the TWG Tea Mobile App.