The most popular tea sources are Asia and Africa. The specific locations for tea growing in Asia are Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon), India, China, Japan, Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Iran and Russia.
The Champagne of Tea
In Africa, the most common tea source is Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire. Other locations around the world that serve as growing areas include Australia, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, United States and Brazil.
Although many areas around the world grow tea, only a few areas produce high quality loose leaf choices. The best varieties come from India, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Japan, China, Rwanda and Uganda. India has three excellent growing areas. They are Darjeeling, Assam and South India.
Darjeeling tea is often referred to as the Champagne of tea. The Darjeeling region is in West Bengal, India. Many years ago, India was part of the British Empire and this brew became very popular in England. Only a few estates grow it in West Bengal. Darjeeling is often thought of as a black tea. However, It’s actually an oolong tea! The oxidation is at about ninety percent. Some Estates are now producing white varieties as well. White tea is very popular in China! And it is produced with only a little bit of oxidation. The Darjeeling white is a golden color that is quite mellow with a touch of sweetness.
Darjeeling: What to Expect
A pot of Darjeeling features a floral aroma with a light color. The flavor has a slight tannic taste to it along with a spiciness. Tea connoisseurs refer to as ‘muscatel’. After drinking the tea, you should feel a cool aftertaste in your mouth. These are what you can expect from a fresh brewed cup of Darjeeling tea.
Harvesting takes place several times a year. Steep hillsides provide the best growing areas. The first harvest or first flush as it is called is in mid-March, just after the spring rain. This flush is light in color and aroma and is mildly astringent. June will see the second flush harvest. This flush is a full-bodied amber colored cup of tea.
In addition, it features the muscatel taste favored by connoisseurs. In between the first and second flushes is a harvesting called the ‘in between’ flush. After the second flush is another harvest. It will occur just before monsoon season. This is a domestic flush, consumed in India. After that, the Autumnal flush will be the last one of the year. Harvesting takes place in the rainy season. As a result, this flush produces a tea that is darker in color and is more full-bodied.
Every year will see thousands of tons of Darjeeling counterfeit tea on the market. This isn’t actually Darjeeling grade at all. As a matter of fact, India maintains a strict certification standard for all Darjeeling labeled leaves. As a result, you can’t grow Darjeeling anywhere else! There are many excellent brews from around the world. However, the best tea source is the Darjeeling region of West Bengal, India.