Tea drinkers across the globe adore Darjeeling tea for its light, sweet flavor and fruity aroma. If you’ve never tried it for yourself, it’s time to add it to your bucket list. Darjeeling has so much to offer for everyone from new tea drinkers to seasoned connoisseurs.
What is Darjeeling?
Darjeeling is a world-famous tea named after the city where it’s grown. The city of Darjeeling is located on a mountain slope in India, where tea is cultivated at an elevation of approximately 7000 ft. This elevation is responsible for its sweet flavor and unique taste. Darjeeling tea actually can’t be grown anywhere else in the world, making it a unique and rare experience.
Types of Darjeeling
Although the black tea variant is the most popular, there are many subtypes of Darjeeling tea which vary slightly in taste, aroma, and caffeine content. The differences among them are often attributed to the elevation at which they’re grown. When looking to get started on Darjeeling tea, all the options can get overwhelming. Luckily, that means there’s a Darjeeling out there for everyone.
Darjeeling White Tea
Darjeeling white tea is the lightest version, with sweet, fruity notes in flavor and a gentle but flowery fragrance. This tea is the most mellow and smooth, and contains less caffeine than its black tea counterpart while still providing a small energy boost. This variant has a light yellow hue and no “grassy” undertones which are typically present in the green tea version.
Darjeeling Green Tea
Darjeeling green tea is prized for its health benefits due to its natural antioxidants and vitamins. This variant contains the least amount of caffeine and has a more herbal, earthy flavor profile. Drinkers of this tea praise its fresh, floral aftertaste, which lingers long after the cup has been emptied.
Darjeeling Oolong Tea
Darjeeling oolong tea is the rarest of its kind, and is exclusively grown at 3000 ft elevation, slightly below the other varieties. Darjeeling oolong has an orange color and a bitter, sharp taste that’s more intense than your standard oolong. Most oolong teas are grown in China, making this subcategory of Darjeeling particularly rare and a true delicacy.
How It’s Made
Darjeeling tea was initially planted in the 1800s, and quickly thrived in the healthy mountain soil. Since then, over 40,000 acres of Darjeeling have been carefully maintained and used in the tea-making process. Every day, thousands of tea pickers pluck the tea leaves and gather them for the next step of their journey.
Once the tea has been picked from its beautiful origin among the Himalayas, the tea is then withered. Withering tea involves removing all moisture from the leaves. Next, it’s meticulously rolled and fermented to bring out the best in its natural flavor and aroma, both of which are beloved worldwide. After that, it’s packaged with the official Tea Board Darjeeling label which proves its authenticity.
What Does Darjeeling Taste Like?
Darjeeling has been described as tasting more like wine than tea. A fresh cup of Darjeeling tea has a very sweet, fruity fragrance and taste that is distinct from any other tea in the world. Darjeeling is a type of tea sometimes referred to as a “self drinker”, meaning it usually needs no extras to improve the taste. Of course, if you want to change the flavor a little, there’s nothing wrong with getting creative in the kitchen!
Caffeine, Carbs & Calories
Darjeeling is a black tea, so it contains more caffeine than its herbal counterparts – in fact, a single cup of Darjeeling can contain up to 120mg of caffeine, comparable to a strong cup of coffee. This delightful tea is a great afternoon beverage, because it’s light and sweet with enough caffeine to give you a slight energy boost in the middle of your day.
There are zero calories in a cup of Darjeeling, but if you add mix-ins such as cream, honey, and sugar, you can easily bulk up the calorie count. Darjeeling also only contains 1 carb, making this an ideal choice for those of us watching our figures.
Brewing at Home
Just like with any other tea, Darjeeling is easy and quick to brew from the comfort of your own kitchen. Follow these steps for the perfect cup.
- First, you’ll need to prepare the water. You can microwave a cup of water until it boils, but a better technique would involve using a tea kettle. We’re all familiar with the way microwaved beverages slightly differ in taste, and you don’t want to risk ruining your Darjeeling.
- Next, simply submerge the tea sachet into the boiling water. One cup usually calls for one bag, but you can adjust this to taste. If you’re using loose leaf tea, you’ll need a tea strainer or infuser for this instead. Fortunately, they’re fairly cheap on websites like Amazon.
- Allow the tea to steep for 3-5 minutes, until the tea is a golden brown hue. Remember to remove and discard the tea bag after the tea is finished.
The first time you try Darjeeling, I suggest drinking it without any additions, because the flavor is a delight on its own. However, if you still aren’t thrilled with the taste, you can add some extras such as honey, cream or milk, and sugar. I don’t recommend adding lemon or mint to this tea as it overpowers the natural flavor.
Where to Find It
You can purchase authentic Darjeeling tea from reputable sites online, where you can then select your specific preference. When you purchase Darjeeling from any vendor, even your local supermarket, make sure the Tea Board logo is visible. Otherwise, you could run the risk of spending money on a fake.
- HIMALAYAN TEA: Few places on earth are as enchanting as Darjeeling, a small but vibrant town in the Indian state of West Bengal; Darjeeling tea has a thin-bodied, light, delicate taste; Caffeinated, 20 Count, Pack of 6
- FINE BLACK TEA: Experience the magic of leaves expertly selected from Darjeeling, India, in the foothills of the Himalayas; Black tea is best when steeped 3-5 minutes in 100°C heated water
- INDIVIDUALLY SEALED TEA BAGS STAY FRESH: Take your tea on the go in your purse, workout bag, backpack, school or work desk or car; Each tea bag is sealed for freshness so every cup of Twinings is the perfect cup of Twinings
- DRINK IN LIFE: With a signature blend of tradition and innovation, Twinings encourages tea lovers to "Drink In Life" by taking small steps towards feeling good and living well, one sip at a time
- SOURCED WITH CARE: We improve communities we source from with access to water and sanitation; Empowering women; Enhancing incomes and resilience through income diversification and careful farming practices
“The Champagne of Tea”
Darjeeling’s super sweet flavor and fruity aroma make it a worldwide favorite, and you don’t have to be an expert on tea to appreciate that. Try out a hot cup of Darjeeling and see for yourself how amazing it really is. There’s a reason they call it the “champagne of tea”!
- Feature Image: © Vyacheslav Argenberg / http://www.vascoplanet.com/, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons