Why does first flush Darjeeling tea appear so green? This is a common question that crop up in every tea lovers’ mind. Though first flush Darjeeling is black variant, its appearance makes it look like green tea. Why is it so? Experts say that it is because of the manufacturing process of first flush that creates this unique property. Let us find out what is it…
How Manufacturing Process Imparts Greenish Color
Fresh tea leaves are plucked and transferred to factory where they are withered up to 60-65%. Now, since first flush leaves are spring bloom, they are silky and soft. Then the leaves are rolled under minimum pressure for only 10 to 15 minutes. Leaves of first flush are not oxidized; they are taken to drying chamber. Once they are dry, the leaves are sorted out and packed. Due to little oxidation, first flush tea leaves have greenish appearance.
Thus, first flush Darjeeling is an unroasted and slightly oxidized oolong blend. Now, this method of partial oxidation is a ‘new concept’ to local tea industry and also, the industry is not familiar with oolong tradition. That is why; this first flush blend is referred to ‘black tea’ in conventional term.
How Processing Of Second Flush Darjeeling Is Different From First Flush?
Leaves of second first Darjeeling blends are more juicy and hardier than first flush. These leaves are rolled for around 40 to 50 minutes in hard pressure and are completely oxidized.
How Approach To Tea Manufacturing Change?
Do you know first flush teas were not produced in the same way as they are done now? Earlier, UK was the prime market for Darjeeling blends and they preferred to have tea with sugar and milk. Hence, highly oxidized blends were manufactured. However, with departure of the English, their influence on Darjeeling tea industry also diminished.
The Germans have initiated this change in tea processing of first flush. They influenced the tea planters of Darjeeling to adopt a more distinct approach to the manufacturing process. Germans realized that useful flavor of the blends was wasted due to standardized manufacturing. They suggested some planters to lessen oxidation and rolling and increase withering. This produced a tea with light body and greater aroma.
As a result of this change in manufacturing process, blends of different Darjeeling tea estates acquired a distinct taste profile of their own. Eventually, this method of tea processing yielded a new standard of first flush Darjeeling tea.