Hooray, tea lovers: Tomorrow (March 20) is the first day of spring! Spring seems to have an intrinsic link with tea, with think, and it has to go beyond how well tea seems to pair with other spring-ish things, like flowers, Easter, Mother's Day and all that.
And then we realized — spring is, in fact, a big deal in tea gardens of Darjeeling, India. The landscape of Darjeeling is mountainous, since it's part of the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalayas — the average elevation is 6,710 feet above sea level! Because of the climate, the tea plant, known as camellia sinensis, goes dormant during the winter, and in the spring, which can be anytime between late February and mid-April, those plants start producing tea leaves once more.
In Darjeeling, the first tea leaves to be plucked each spring are called "First Flush," and they are particularly prized for its gentle, floral flavor and being light in the cup. The "Second Flush" occurs between May and June, and results in tea that is typically slightly less astringent than First Flush, well rounded and full. Our own sachets of Organic Darjeeling are popular with Darjeeling lovers, and include mostly tea leaves from our favorite tea garden's First Flush, but also paired with some leaves from the Second Flush, to make it a bit bolder.
Other tea harvesting areas (like Assam, India,) may be growing tea leaves year round in their warmer, greenhouse-like climates, but plucking leaves in the garden on an informal "flush" schedule to rotate among tea plants. Darjeeling is truly unique for its terrain and climate — for a really hands-on (or tastebuds-on?) Darjeeling adventure, you might be interested in our Darjeeling Tasting Trio that we assembled to demonstrated how different flushes, and even grown in different tea gardens, can result in distinct flavor profiles.
Cheers to spring, tea lovers!