Hit with regulars and connoisseurs of tea worldwide, Darjeeling Tea is the finest tea known to man. Celebrated and consumed with equal fervour, Darjeeling tea has about 5 annual flushes that render an amazing taste to it. Some experts and tea tasters consider three flushes in Darjeeling. However, some also think no two flushes are the same with the teas tasting different.

What is a flush?

Flush is often referred to the actual act of harvesting the tea leaves. It is a period when tea plants develop new leaves and are harvested by masterful tea hands in the estates. A lot of tea produced is nowadays machine picked. As with all plants, the tea plant also goes through periods of growth and dormancy, usually varying from one location to the other. In Nilgiri for instance, the flushes are all year round. Darjeeling tea plants on the other hand, awaken from their dormant state in early spring and the first growing season starts ushering in the first harvest, completing the round of “flush”.

Most of the flushes have different names from season to season. The “Darjeeling First Flush” and the “Second Flush” are common names for Darjeeling tea, followed by the Monsoon Flush and the Winter Flush.

Seasons of flushes

After the first growth of tea leaves after dormancy, the plucking and harvesting time arrives for Darjeeling tea leaves. This period of flush is often referred to as the Spring Flush, Darjeeling First Flush or the Easter Flush. The teas are plucked while still tender in the new shoots on the stalks of the tea bushes. Often called buds, these are very different from flower buds.   If the weather conditions are right, this Spring Flush can easily yield the best tea commanding high prices! The tea made from these leaves is delicate tasting and pale in colour, often touted as the brightest yellowy or coppery tea.

The second flush from May to June produce an amazing mature and well rounded flavour in the tea. It has a fruity flavour that is less astringent and is far better than the Spring Flush. This flush produces Darjeeling tea that has a marvellous muscatel character while others disregard it for better flushes!

The Summer Flush often gives way to the Monsoon Flush in September. Tea plants need a lot of moisture and thrive in the rains on the slopes of the mountains. The tea produced has stronger blends and are dark often having a dull flavour.

The Autumnal Flush is harvested in the months of October and November. Weeding is an essential aspect of this period and most tea plants grow very well in this season. The leaves produced are very dark in colour and are full bodied with a natural fruity flavour.