Do you know what flushes are and why they are related to Darjeeling blends? Flushes are the harvesting or growing seasons of Darjeeling teas. Some think that flush is the act of harvesting blends but it is the period when plants develop new leaves. These leaves are then harvested through machine or hand, according to the variant they need to produce. Exact time of flushes can vary from one region to another but, there is a general classification of these flushes.
  • First Flush – from late February to middle of April
This is the first harvesting season for Darjeeling teas. This flush obtains the best blends of the season and they are priced high in the market. Leaves of this season remain tender shoots and they contain greatest amount of caffeine, L-theanine and catechins. Liquor from Darjeeling first flush teas has delicate taste, light coppery yellow color and a flowery note.
  • In-between Flush – from late April to early of May
This is period when low grade blends are produced after the first flush. These teas are generally used for local markets and for tea bags. ‘In-between’ Darjeeling has an astringent flavor when brewed.
  • Second Flush – from late May to June
Second flush leaves are picked during May and June and when brewed, produce mature fruity flavored amazing golden liquor. This blend has less astringency and tastes much better than first flush ones. Brew from these tea leaves is bright and full-bodied and has a typical muscatel character. Darjeeling Second flush teas are perfect as evening tea.
  • Monsoon Flush – during September
As you know tea plants require lots of moisture. In Darjeeling, monsoonal rainfall occurs during July and September. After this period tea leaves start growing again and they are harvested as green blends, for tea bags and for blending. These leaves are produced in huge quantity but they are of low quality and have dull flavor.
  • Third Flush – during October and November
Autumn Flush or Third Flush is the last harvesting season and in this phase, plants give the maximum harvest. When steeped the leaves of this season obtain a full-bodied fruit flavored brew. Its strong flavor makes it suitable as breakfast tea. Adding a little bit of milk and sugar will make a perfect cup of Darjeeling!
  • Winter Flush – between November and February
Winter Flush is rare and takes place only in ideal conditions. Generally, in October, tea plants are cut down and protected from the cold weather of winter. Quality of this flush is very low. Blends from different flushes taste different. So, from now on, check out which flush you are drinking.