The sultry and balmy breeze, laden with moist winds enchants us all after a torrid affair with the harsh winds of winter. The glory of spring can be best felt in an open garden valley with morning breeze whispering sweet nothings in your year as it entwines your senses with a floral mist. Spring not only heralds some titillating aroma of floral canopies, but is a welcome harbinger to the spring tea.
That is how I would describe spring tea or the first flush tea as connoisseurs call it. Harvested between March to May, these are the tender new shoots that spring from the bushes after a dormant winter. Plucked two leaves and a bud at a time, the bud can be characterised by a satin silvery outward sheen and a characteristic silver tip. The steeped liquor is bright yellow with a delicate flowery character and a beautiful floral aroma. The unfurled leaves look bright and green.
In general, the flush refers to the tea growing seasons in Darjeeling. The first flush Tea is harvested between mid-March to May and the colour of the tea is light and clear with bright liquor. The leaves have floral aroma, with a lively character.
However, it is perhaps the second flush that is more of a connoisseurs delight! The Darjeeling Second Flush has more of a darker colour and a stronger flavour. The tea leaves have a purplish bloom to them and unlike the Darjeeling First Flush Tea, they have a fruity flavour profile to them. The tea when seeped and poured is seen to have an amber hue and the taste is more of a muscatel grape flavour that is caused due to the tea plant reacting to small insects that suck juices from its stems.
The uniqueness of the Darjeeling Second Flush Tea is in its muscatel flavour. It is widely accepted that this unique flavour profile is found in no other tea harvest, apart from the ones produced in Darjeeling. While the symbiotic relationship between the plant and insects add to the flavour profile of the tea, a horde of other factors are also responsible for making the Darjeeling Second Flush so unique and sought after. The unique muscatel flavour is caused due to the combination of unique weather, topography and plant variations.
The Second Flush is plucked from mid-May to mid-June during the arrival of the monsoon rains. It offers mostly the same flavour profile as the first flush but with a fuller body and less astringency. The muscatel flavour of the Darjeeling second flush makes it as tantalising as a world class wine. If the Darjeeling First flush Tea makes one reminisce of breezy winds and mellow sun, then the second cup is more like the robust gales of the north and dewy mornings laden with misty stories