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 the 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 70’s, tea duplication had reached a massive toll, especially from the neighbouring 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 of piracy and thus remain unaware of the super taste of Darjeeling Tea.

Flavours of Darjeeling Tea

Before we understand the logic behind authenticity, let’s have a look at the four flavours 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 flavours of Darjeeling Tea are 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 ‘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 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 flavours 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

Easter 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 gives out a gentle light colour. And has an acetic and aromatic flavour to enchant your taste buds.

Spring Flush

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 flavour’ 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 colour and has a slightly fruity flavour.

Summer Flush

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.

Autumnal Flush

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 a less spicy tones with a mixture of green tea leaves with blackish brown colours.

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 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 the respectful industries.

Thus Darjeeling Tea became the first commodity in India to get a GI tag. To protect its safety and ensure 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 have saved a lot of investments from India and abroad. And it also safeguarded the security of employment for the workers in tea gardens.

How to identify and buy the real Darjeeling Tea?

Now we come to the main question as to how not to be fooled while buying Darjeeling Tea. And where you can buy genuine Darjeeling Tea? Well, Darjeeling tea can be sold in any retail outlet in India or abroad, as long as the GI tag is present on the products. If the tag is missing but the name is still Darjeeling, you have the right to report it to the authority. Though necessary precautions have been taken, there might still be a few slips here and there. However since we know the truth, it will be easier to proceed from now on.

The best way to get authentic Darjeeling Tea is of course by visiting Darjeeling. But recently, due to the rise in dependence on mobile phones and computers, online sellers have emerged. Now you can find many websites selling authentic Darjeeling Tea. We cannot assure you that the products you receive online will be fully genuine everytime. But since we know about the packaging, you can ask for a refund or return.

Darjeeling Tea At your Doorstep

Growing, plucking, manufacturing, processing, packaging and distributing of tea is a lengthy process. Some tea estates may have outlets for their products while some send their produce to the tea wholesalers and distributors. The reality is, the tea-estates of Darjeeling usually have pre-bookings for the tea leaves from their respective gardens. But they do produce extra to be distributed amongst the sellers also. Needless to say, the tea producers generally avoid packaging and selling of tea to the general public. They leave the final product to the sellers.

As mentioned earlier, there has been a rise in online sellers for Darjeeling Tea. While most of the products from online dealers are authentic, you need to be careful which retailer you buy from. More importantly, you need to know your tea. You need to understand if its the best for you and if you will like it. It is suggested that you enquire this before you make your purchase. So, if you have any questions or doubts, you can mail us for a quick response. We will make sure all your queries are answered.

Research shows, Darjeeling produces approx. 9 million kgs of tea per annum. But the world sells about 40 million kgs as Darjeeling tea per year. So adulteration and falsification are serious problems in the global tea trade. However, as far as authenticity is concerned, Darjeeling Tea Direct will not disappoint you. Darjeeling Tea Direct has an expert team of analysts who have worked the tea market for many years. We have links with the top producers of Darjeeling tea in Darjeeling.

Darjeeling Tea Direct aims to provide our patrons with the finest of teas that Darjeeling has to offer. Coming directly from the source with our motto “DARJEELING TEA AT YOUR DOORSTEP DIRECTLY FROM DARJEELING”. We source only the finest of tea from the GI (Geographic Indications) enlisted tea gardens/estates of Darjeeling. And ensure that your cup of tea comes to you directly from Darjeeling.

Darjeeling Tea Direct operates all over Darjeeling, with the main procurement center and warehouse in Darjeeling. Its IT cell at Kalimpong and it's head office at Pedong, very close to the renowned Samabeong Tea Estate. In fact, Pedong has some of the most amazing stories to tell as far as the history of Darjeeling Tea is concerned.

Phone number: +919002503653
Procurement & Warehousing: Ladenla Road, Darjeeling.
IT Cell: Trimurthi complex 9th mile, Kalimpong
Head Office: 21st-mile Dokyong, Pedong

Author's Bio: 

“Darjeeling Tea Direct” is a locally based company from the region of Darjeeling. We aim to provide our patrons with the finest of teas, that Darjeeling has to offer, directly from the source. With our motto as “DARJEELING TEA AT YOUR DOORSTEP DIRECTLY FROM DARJEELING,” we are in constant pursuit of authenticity, to ensure that your cup of Darjeeling tea, comes to you directly from Darjeeling.