8 Reasons why DARJEELING TEA is called the” Champagne of Teas”

Over the years, the brew I always dreamt to savour was the eponymous “Champagne of Teas” – Darjeeling tea. Like the iconic 'Champagne' signifies sparkling white wines that come from the Champagne region of France, in the world of teas 'Darjeeling' denotes tea from the district of Darjeeling located high in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas in the Indian state of West Bengal. Collectively there are about 87 "Tea-Gardens” in this incredibly picturesque hill hamlet that creates the tea equivalent of an appellation of French wine. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once famously said, 'there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a cup of tea'. Probably he was referring to Darjeeling teas only.

Check out below why DARJEELING TEA is called the “Champagne of Teas”.

1) For its famous MUSCATEL flavor. It can’t get better than this…!!!

The muscatel is a unique taste reminiscent of the Muscat family of grapes and this characteristic is considered to share some of the same fruity and musky qualities as the wines made from those grapes. When it shows up in Darjeeling teas, muscatel presents itself as a lovely combination of grapey fruitiness and yeasty, buttery oven baked brioche aroma that perfectly complements the tea's typical grassy character. This exquisite flavor, which brings with it a bouquet of aftertaste, will enliven your day like no other tea. The musky spiciness or “muscatel” flavor is more profound in the teas harvested during the Second Flush in June.

2) Friends, Darjeeling tea is frugal in quantity but eminently supreme in taste

As mentioned above, Darjeeling Tea is grown exclusively in select tea plantations located in the foothills of the Himalayas in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. With sub-tropical high altitude conditions, slightly acidic soil and a climate that alternates between sunny to frequent cloudy periods, Darjeeling is most suitable for premium quality muscatel flavoured teas. The region produces a select 13 million kgs of tea every year which is a miniscule 1% of the entire tea production in India. Yes, believe it or not that is all of the entire yield of tea Darjeeling produces. So friends, quantity is not everything in life, quality does matter.

3) The GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION tag. The peculiar nature of the Darjeeling’s slopes and distinctive weather patterns ensures a special offering

Darjeeling Tea is the only tea in the world to get protection under the GI trademark. This(GI) insignia gives Darjeeling tea an exalted status among other teas and means that these teas correspond to the Darjeeling area only and are not grown elsewhere. It is said that the steep nature of the region’s slopes and the weather patterns impart a special aroma to the teas grown here, which is why Darjeeling tea has acquired the status of a Geographical Indicator.

Indeed the “Champagne” epithet for teas from Darjeeling sits well on their head.

4) Kudos from Nobel laureate Tagore to Mark Twain to Rumer Godden and now from the “Queen of England”, what else now for Darjeeling tea?

In the distant and not so distant past, many luminaries have expressed their fascination for Darjeeling tea and the region itself. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and the American humorist Mark Twain came and stayed in Darjeeling in the early 20th Century and their love for Darjeeling Tea is a chronicled fact. If this was not enough, in her well acclaimed biography - Rungli - Rungliot – Thus far and no further, the famous English author, Rumer Godden talks about her affinity for Darjeeling tea and the time she spent in Darjeeling during the Second World War. In the recent past, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted the Queen of England some award winning Darjeeling tea from Makaibari tea estate in West Bengal, India. So look at it this way, if the charm of Darjeeling tea was too much to resist for these famous people, how can you be left behind? So go and grab your favorite variety of Darjeeling tea right now! Website: ……….

5) Age old method of manufacturing imparts special characteristics to the teas

In today’s day and age of mechanization, a majority of tea growing regions have adopted a machine-driven model of production where there the focus is solely on high yields rather than on quality. Ducking this norm however is Darjeeling, where most teas are still produced using techniques of the yore, since tea was first produced here in 1845. Since then Darjeeling has expanded from a sleepy hamlet to a thriving town and tourist hotspot due to its famous export.

The comparatively labor intensive steps require expertise, intuition and give the manufacturers greater control over the many variables that affect the chemistry of the leaves. It is these chemical changes that give each Darjeeling flush its unique characteristics. These variations create rare flavors such as berries and the famous muscatel associated with Darjeeling tea.

6) Tea Tasting : De rigueur in Darjeeling

The world is divided into 2 categories - those who drink tea and those who drink “Chai”. There is another divide, too, between perverts who drink Darjeeling with milk and sugar, and the connoisseurs who drink the liquor straight up. Tea tasting sessions in Darjeeling are the favourite pastime of the latter, where the sight and flavour of perfectly brewed tea in a porcelain cup against the backdrop of sunny slopes and snowy vistas infuses an unforgettable myriad of emotions in these aficionados.

Tea tasting sessions are de rigueur in Darjeeling, and the liquors of different flushes can be enjoyed at many places like Happy Valley, Glenburn Tea Estate, Goldentips Tea Cosy etc. So it would not be a blasphemy to say that “tea is giving wine a fair amount of competition as a cherished societal drink in these parts of the world.

7.The Darjeeling Toy Train (DHR) : An experience of a lifetime

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway(DHR), popularly known as the “Toy Train” and declared a heritage by UNESCO, is a narrow gauge train built by the Britishers between 1879 and 1881.Since then, it has been the cynosure of locals as well as visitors. Any mention of the “Darjeeling tea experience” is incomplete without a trip in this heritage rail which plies between the main town and the sleepy hamlet of Ghum.

As the DHR snakes it way through verdant tea gardens with breathtaking views of the lofty Mount Kanchenjunga in the foreground, you will have a “never to be forgotten” tea journey here. Many Bollywood flicks like Aradhna, Pareenita, Main Hoon Na etc have been shot in the DHR too.

8.Spring Surprise : First Flush Darjeeling will take your breath away

Soon after the bitterly cold and gloomy winter ebbs, in the picturesque tea estates of Darjeeling, carefully nurtured tea leaves are ready for harvesting. This heralds the beginning of the vibrant Spring season. These succulent leaves are carefully picked and transformed into the much feted: First Flush Darjeeling tea. The teas of this batch are thin-bodied with a light colored infusion and have a floral aroma.

This celebrated tea has discernible differences in favour and colour, dependent on the estate in which it is grown. These subtleties can be appreciated by tea lovers across the globe and have led to some tea estates in Darjeeling gaining very high standing for their cherished first flush teas.

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