Tea by Region
How does Darjeeling tea taste?
Tea leaves from Darjeeling are processed to make black, green, white and oolong teas. These teas are of a premium quality, sometimes referred to as the ‘champagne of teas’. A number of factors play a role in determining the taste notes of the tea.
Elevation: The tea estates in Darjeeling are located at varying elevations. The elevation of the garden has an impact on the chemical compounds present in the tea leaves, and at times a single estate can also produce teas with varying flavours due to the difference in elevation within the estate itself.
Season of production: In India, the seasonal harvest period is also referred to as ‘flush’. There are a total of six flushes in a year, with four of these being categorized as major flushes and two intermediate flushes. The flavour of the tea varies as per the season of harvesting due to the climatic conditions during the growth of the plant, plucking of the leaves and processing of the leaves.
Tea bushes: There are certain sub-species of the Camellia Sinensis plant such as ‘Chinary’ which refers to the original species from China and ‘Clonal’ which are the hybrids. The flavours of the leaves are largely dependant on the type of plant it is plucked from.
The processing methods used for Darjeeling teas focus on maintaining the delicate characteristics of the Darjeeling tea leaf with orthodox techniques.
The profile of Darjeeling teas can be largely characterized as thin body leaves with bright colour, astringent taste and strong aroma.
How does Assam tea taste?
Assam is a state located in the north-east of India. This state is rich in biodiversity due to its location, which is in close proximity to the Himalayas, the Deccan plateau and the Brahmaputra plains. The soil in this region is naturally rich, loamy and fertile, and the low altitude coupled with high rainfall make it ideal for the cultivation of tea.
Assam is one of the largest tea-growing regions in the world producing approximately 507 million kg of tea per year. These teas are harvested twice a year - once at the end of March and the second late in May. Teas harvested during the second flush are sweeter and have a fuller body, which is why they are perceived to be superior to the first flush teas.
Both Orthodox and CTC varieties of tea are produced in Assam. Tea grades vary based on the processing from the superior whole tea tea to the low grade fannings and dust.
Assam black teas have a reputation for the strong, brisk, bold and malty flavours. The liquor of these teas are dark in colour. They are often preferred as breakfast teas, used in the production of the English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast teas that are popular all over the world.
How does Nilgiri tea taste?
The Nilgiris are a portion of the Western Ghats located in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. The name ‘nilgiri’ means ‘blue mountains’ in hindi, and stems from the blue coloured flowers that bloom in this region.
The climate in this region is similar to that in Darjeeling, and these gardens produce hand-sorted, whole-leaf grades like the orange pekoe (OP) black tea, which is a medium-grade basic black tea made with whole leaf tea leaves of a particular size, and pekoe cut black tea, a finer grade tea made from young tea leaves and buds. Lower grade teas are also produced in this region. Besides the black tea, the Nilgiri tea gardens produce excellent varieties of green, white and oolong tea as well.
These gardens are located at an elevation between 1000 meters to 2500 meters above sea level and receives plenty of rainfall.
The teas produced have an intense aroma and flavour, with an aftertaste of dusk flowers and tropical fruit. The winter frost teas are a speciality of this region due to the flavour - a result of the chilled frosty nights.
The Nilgiri teas exhibit a unique flavour and aroma, which has gained popularity in the Western world. It is a favourite among North Americans, due to the balance of strength, colour and astringency.