It is said that the first flush of Darjeeling tastes just like the mountains that it comes from, with a light floral taste and a freshness to it that can only be attributed to the clean mountain air that surrounds it. First flush tea is sweet and floral, but with an astringency too, giving it a complexity which is unique to tea of this region.
The first flush is the most exclusive of the year, as it harvests the most delicate and delicious leaves. These new, small leaves are picked in groups of two leaves and a bud. The Darjeeling first flush is particularly special due to the climate of the region it is grown in. For some tea estates it will be the only flush they are able to harvest all year, as storms that encompass the entire region in late April can waterlog and damage the land. This damage means that many tea plants will return to their dormant state instead of continuing to grow. The look of first flush Darjeeling is similar to green tea and far less dark than most black teas, whilst the liquor - when brewed with water - is an almost clear, golden colour.
Second flush Darjeeling is harvested between beginning of May and end of June. This tea is more of a purplish brown appearance and has a more robust colour and taste, with a more pronounced ‘muscatel’ flavour. Again, this blend is fruity and floral, but with less subtlety than a first flush tea, meaning it is generally less expensive and less in-demand worldwide. However, second flush tea functions better as an energy boost or pick-me-up than the delicately flavoured first flush Darjeeling, due to its more robust flavour. It is well-loved in Japan and the US and as a result they are some of the largest importers of second flush tea, whilst the British market tends to prefer the first flush.
The period between the second and third flushes is an incredibly rainy one in Darjeeling and tea production almost halts for this time, with any tea which is produced being sold cheaply to make blends with other teas. Third flush Darjeeling is made later in the year, around mid-July until the end of August. The final, autumn flush has traditionally not been held in the reverence that the first and second flushes have, due to its darker, bolder taste however, the autumn Darjeeling is very special in its own right and we believe is something to be treasured. Definitely watch out for Darjeeling Autumn 15.