First Flush is defined as the very first plucking of a tea gardens’ harvest season.
The new leaves plucked during First Flush are the youngest and most tender part of the tea plant and produce the purest and freshest cup of tea that a plant is capable of delivering.
The most well-known and popular First Flush teas come from Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Once the tea bushes have been plucked the plants are allowed to recover and grow new leaves.
As the season continues new leaves will develop but they will have a somewhat different colour which when processed will give the tea a very different character.
This tea is known as Second Flush and even though it is from the same plants in the same garden it will taste quite different to the First Flush.
A 10-Step Guide to First Flush Darjeeling
As this season’s First Flush Darjeeling’s arrive with us we have put together a handy guide about everything you need to know about the most exquisite tea.
- First Flush arrives with Spring – one of the reasons First Flush is so prized is that it’s the first crop of the tea growing year. The rising temperatures of spring bring the tea plants to life and the first delicate shoots have a fragrant, fresh flavour that is subtle and cleansing to the palate.
- First Flush is hand-picked for flavour– After the spring rains gently bring the tea plants to life, shoots emerge that consist of a single bud and two leaves. These are plucked by hand, in order to prevent damage to them and ensuring the most tender leaves end up in your cup.
- Orthodox Methods – First Flush must be produced using the orthodox method. This means small batches and huge skill and knowledge in the tea garden and factory. The process involves withering the shoots, fermenting and drying them naturally and then grading according to their size and quality.
- 86 tea gardens produce First Flush in Darjeeling – The foothills of the Himalayas are one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Here you will find 86 different tea gardens, all resting thousands of feet above sea level and are busy throughout the year growing teas that will be shipped all over the world.
- Himalayan climate – There is a reason that there are so many tea gardens in the Himalayas, the mountains provide the perfect growing environment. Well-drained soil combined with alternate spells of rain and warm sunshine ensure the tender crop has every chance to flourish.
- All in the detail – Each First Flush tea has subtle variations due to its surroundings which affect the flavour of a tea. For example, the Badamtam estate grows a First Flush Darjeeling with a slightly sweet finish and flowery taste. Experts attribute this to its location in the heart of the Leobong Valley.
- Grown for centuries – Tea is one of the oldest plants on the planet and Darjeeling harvesting has been going for more than a century. The Phoobsering tea estate that has supplied one of our First Flush teas this 2018 harvest is presently owned by the Chamong group which is a family owned group now in its sixth generation which efficiently manages 17 Darjeeling tea gardens.
- Complex Flavour – First Flush Darjeeling’s have complex flavour and characteristics, this is to be expected when you are drinking one of the world’s finest teas.
- Quality – First Flush Darjeeling teas are known as the ‘‘Champagne of teas.’’ It is widely regarded as the most exquisite tea you can buy which explains the excitement that greets the first flush crop each Spring.
- No need to break the bank – First Flush tea leaves are more expensive than regular Darjeeling. But with our range, the finer things in life are available to everybody.
First Flush Tea Leaf Journey
- The Beginnings – Darjeeling tea is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas where tea gardens sit hundreds of feet above sea level and thrive in the regions mountain climate.
- Watching and waiting – the managers of the tea estates have a very important job to do, they carefully monitor the weather and the condition of the tea plants judging the right time to start picking the new tea leaves. When the time comes the tea-pickers start to pluck the top two leaves and bud from every plant.
- Transformation – The freshly picked leaved are then prepared for your cup. The tea leaves are carefully withered, rolled, fermented and dried – the manager overseeing every process. Then the tea leaves are graded according to quality and size before being sent onto the next step of their journey.
- Next steps – When the tea leaves are ready to leave the plantation they are typically sent to Calcutta, where they are offered for sale at tea auctions. From here the European bound teas are usually flown to the historic tea ports of Bremen or Hamburg before being transported to their next destination, in our case here at our Somerset headquarters. Tea is transported in palletised paper sacks, lined with aluminium to keep them dry and to protect the delicate flavours.
- Final Steps – When the prized First Flush Darjeeling’s arrive with us there is just one step that remains – making them available on our online shop for you to snap up and buy!
1. Darjeeling Phoobsering First Flush Organic Tea 2018
A very special aromatic First Flush with a slightly fruity character from the 2018 season.
We were immediately impressed by the delicately fruity, highly aromatic, powerful infusion with a fine-sweet taste and hint of citrus notes.
The organic tea batch number DJ1 from the Phoobsering tea plantation is a very special one this year.
A highly aromatic first flush with a very carefully processed, classic leaf.
How To Brew
- 1 slightly heaped teaspoons
- 2-3 minutes
Phoobsering Tea Garden, Darjeeling, India
The beautiful Phoobsering tea garden was not named after its founder but owes its name to the first plantation overseer: Mr Phoob Tshering.
Today the plantation has a size of approximately 240 hectares and extends from 915m to 1828m.
In this part of the valley, the cool mountain air makes the shrubs grow relatively slowly with the climatic conditions ensuring that the tea leaves absorb the special Darjeeling muscatel aroma in full.
2. DARJEELING SINGBULLI FIRST FLUSH ORGANIC TEA 2018
Highly aromatic First Flush with a slightly fruity character and light notes of vanilla and juniper from the 2018 season.
The delicately fruity infusion smells highly aromatic with slight nuances of vanilla.
It unfolds to a lovely and fine floral taste, with light notes of juniper.
How to Brew
- 1 slightly heaped teaspoons
- 2-3 minutes
Singbulli Tea Garden, Darjeeling, India
The beautiful tea plantation Singbulli is located in the Mirik area of Darjeeling and extends over 9 gentle hills covering an area of 22 km with height differences between 365m – 1249m.
Lot no DJ27 organic tea from the Singbulli tea garden is very special this year.
A highly aromatic first flush with a very well-processed and unusually open leaf and many silvery leaf tips.