Are you a vivid tea drinker who needs to drink tea at regular intervals? If so, what makes you think you have an authentic Darjeeling Tea stored at your home? To understand the logic behind buying authentic tea, Darjeeling Tea Direct brings to you the basics of buying tea. Using most of the reference for Darjeeling Tea, the best tea in the world. And focusing on the various Darjeeling Tea Sellers at the same time.
To understand the concept, let us first get an overview of why Darjeeling Tea is so famous. Plantation of Darjeeling dates back to 1835 when the first tea seeds were brought to the hill station. By 1841, tea plantation in Darjeeling had flourished and spread across the district. A certain Dr. A Campbell’s experiment was successful since Darjeeling had resources to produce the best tea in the world.
There are currently 87 tea estates in Darjeeling. The Government enacted the status of Geographical Indication (GI) of Goods (Registration and Protection Act) of 1999. GI status makes sure that there is no copy or duplication of tea produced in Darjeeling. It came into force in 2003. And till now 320 products have been handed GI status in India. In the meantime, the distinctive taste and aroma of Darjeeling tea became more and more popular. So much so, Darjeeling Tea was patronized by tea connoisseurs around the world. With it came some hindrances as well though. By the early ’70s, tea duplication had reached a massive toll, especially from the neighboring states. The long heritage of Darjeeling Tea was in conundrum and fear of being lost forever.
But by 1983, the creation of a logo as a certification trademark was established to attain protection for Darjeeling tea. After years of confusion, in 2004, the GI status was able to save the heritage of Darjeeling Tea. And an authentic badge was given to some of the products of Darjeeling Tea. Since then, Darjeeling Tea has been able to pick itself and get back to the status it once had. But still, there are many who are not aware of the GI or the duplication. They still fall victim to piracy and thus remain unaware of the super taste of Darjeeling Tea.
Flavors of Darjeeling Tea
Before we understand the logic behind authenticity, let’s have a look at the four flavors of Darjeeling Tea. Over 10000 tons of tea is produced in Darjeeling every year. And they are picked or plucked during the four seasons here, referred to as flushes. The flavors of Darjeeling Tea is greatly dependent on the seasons the tea is harvested. Consequently, each flush has its own distinctive flavour and characteristics which determines its taste and price.
Darjeeling still uses the original methods of manufacturing tea, called the ‘Orthodox method’. Rather than the CTC method (Curling, tearing and crushing) used in the plains. Another version of tea grown here is the ‘Organic’ variety grown using natural manure and ecologically sustainable practices. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are avoided in the organic tea plantation method. The recent demand for organic tea in foreign countries have inculcated the practice of organic tea farming in Darjeeling.
Now let us have a look at the flavors or rather flushes in Darjeeling Tea manufacturing. These flushes are called:
- First Flush (Easter Flush)
- Second Flush (Spring Flush)
- Monsoon Flush (Summer Flush)
- Autumnal Flush
The most demanded tea belongs to the First Flush category plants. Also called Lover’s Bush, the harvesting is conducted mid-March and often lasts through April. Tea leaves plucked during this time are light green and when brewed give out a gentle light color. And has an acetic and aromatic flavor to enchant your taste buds.
The Spring Flush or Second Flush is carried out through the months of May and June. This is also a popular tea known as the Summer Tea. We get the ‘muscatel flavor’ during this period, and it is on high demand after the Easter Flush teas. The leaves have a mature and purplish bloom. The brew gives a mellow amber color and has a slightly fruity flavor.
The Summer Flush is carried out during the months from July till September. Also called Monsoon flush, the harvesting becomes difficult during this time of the year due to the rain. The brew changes in texture and becomes stronger in nature. Still, it retains the brightness and texture that Darjeeling tea is well known for. Summer Flush teas are commonly used for preparing masala chai, iced tea, and commercial tea bags.
The Autumnal Flush is harvested from October to November. The leaves harvested then has a silvery light coppery tinge and the brew has a delicate character. The brew has less spicy tones with a mixture of green tea leaves with blackish-brown colors.
Why GI was implemented on Darjeeling Tea products?
The GI status was given to Darjeeling Tea and its products in 2003. The initial fame which Darjeeling Tea received from worldwide tea experts gave rise to many counterfeit products. The blenders started mixing their own products with only 51% of Darjeeling Tea in the mixture of tea. Thus selling it with the Darjeeling Tea label. This lead to a massive chucking out of those duplicate products which were not grown in Darjeeling hills.
The fight for authentication took a long time to be fruitful. Then finally in September 2012, the European Union came to a decision. It was then decided that only those packets containing 100% of Darjeeling Tea can be sold as Darjeeling Tea. The tea packages were also supposed to bear the Darjeeling logo and the PGI logo on them. It was also decided that the European Trade Council and Darjeeling Tea Association along with the Tea Board join forces. Thus helping to promote Darjeeling Tea in the European countries.
Therefore, the main objective of implementing GI tags on Darjeeling tea are:
- To prevent misuse of the word “Darjeeling”, when the tea is sold worldwide.
- To ensure the products consumers receive are 100% authentic and genuine.
- To ensure the commercial benefit of the tea brand reaches respectful industries.
Thus Darjeeling Tea became the first commodity in India to get a GI tag. To protect its safety and ensure the authenticity of the products. This meant that only the tea products grown and harvested in Darjeeling can be sold as Darjeeling Tea abroad. The implementation of GI tag on Darjeeling Tea products has saved a lot of investments from India and abroad. And it also safeguarded the security of employment for the workers in tea gardens.