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The Champagne of Black TeasUpdated a year ago


What is Darjeeling tea?

Darjeeling tea, often referred to as the “champagne of teas,” is a tea that is grown and processed in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. Most commercially-found Darjeeling teas are produced from the Camellia Sinensis’s second flush, harvested in the summer from June to August. First Flush Darjeeling, however, is harvested in the spring and is quite rare. Because the spring flush is the first batch the tea plant produces after winter dormancy, it has an incredibly unique flavor profile and is highly sought after. 


First and second flush teas both come from the same Camellia Sinensis plant, with the big difference being when they are harvested. The first flush, or spring flush, begins in early March and continues through May. Our First Flush Darjeeling tea was deliberately harvested, withered, roasted, and sorted for Art of Tea only and is available in a limited release while supplies last.

The second flush begins in late May and lasts through the summer. Second flush Darjeeling is the most common variety commercially available Darjeeling. Second flush Darjeeling has a more robust flavor and steeps a darker, bolder brew. Our Darjeeling Tea is an excellent example of a delicious second flush Darjeeling.

Both first flush and second flush Darjeeling are excellent teas. First Flush Darjeeling steeps a light jade color due to its semi-oxidized process and mild fermentation. It is more delicate and resembles green tea in dried and brewed states. Second flush Darjeeling, like our Darjeeling Tea, is a more classic black tea that is more readily available.


Yes, Darjeeling tea does have caffeine. What is black tea? Black tea is a fully oxidized tea variety that is known for its rich flavor and dark color. Darjeeling tea is a type of black tea, and black tea, in general, contains caffeine. The caffeine content in Darjeeling tea can vary, but it typically falls within the range of other black teas. For more information on black tea, you can visit our blog: What is black tea?


Darjeeling teas are fully harvested and processed by hand with intense attention to detail, making these teas even more unique and special. Before the tea leaves are ready for consumption, they must go through several processes: hand-harvesting, withering, rolling, baking, and sorting into grades.

Harvesting is done entirely by hand, primarily by Indian women. Harvesting is followed by withering, during which the harvested teas are spread on a withering trough and hit with hot and cold air until most of the moisture is removed. Next, the withered leaves are placed in rollers and rolled under pressure until they bruise and natural juices are released. Rolled tea leaves are then placed on fermentation racks where the humidity and temperature are maintained at the optimum level for oxidation. Baking stops the oxidation process and removes any remaining moisture from the leaves, and then the teas are sorted into leaf grades: whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings, and dust. Finally, the teas are ready to be packed and enjoyed. All Art of Tea’s organic loose leaf teas use only the whole leaf, ensuring the highest quality cup.


Sourcing direct organic and specialty teas from various gardens around the world for the past two decades has allowed our Founder and CEO, Steve Schwartz, to see how unity of foreign growing economies through entrepreneurship and innovation continue to rise in contrast to the battles of division we face here in the States. 

Explore more of our organic tea, including our Black tea Collection to find a Darjeeling tea you’ll love. And the next time you sip on Darjeeling, take a moment to appreciate all the hard work that went into your brew!


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