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This tea gets its moniker from its place of origin in the Darjeerling district situated in West Bengal, India. When it comes to the brew itself the tea consists of the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis, a very popular Chinese plant choice when it comes to tea production. When you hear about tea, save for herbal teas, it’s referring to the leaves of the camellia sinensis 99.999% of the time.
In its most traditional form, it is served as a classic black tea, but it is also available in oolong, white and green tea varieties. However, with these new varieties, there is a risk of buying adulterated teas; therefore when purchasing your next bag of leaves, keep an eye out for the certification mark and logo as a tea can only be called a Darjeerling if it was made in the right geographic location namely, Darjeerling India.
This article will discuss the finer details of brewing the ideal cup as well as providing a quick glance at the varieties available. Learn about the benefits of this royal cuppa, and then go to Hollywood to find out how this drink made its way onto the silver screen.
What makes the perfect cup of Darjeeling Tea?
The flavour of this drink is incredibly fickle and can be influenced by the smallest change in water temperature and even by the detergents used to clean your teapot – keep things simple by wiping down your cup or pot with a clean cloth, and make sure you use pure water.
The tea is also remarkably less tannic in flavour than other brews as a result of the partial oxidation that occurs during the unique process it goes through when prepared. The taste of this tea is often likened to a fine wine, and as such it has the nickname of “the champagne of teas”. It has sweet notes that blend perfectly with mossy and fruity flavours that are accentuated by the smallest hint of citrus.
Intimidating though it may seem, always remember that tea is an entirely subjective drink and the amount of leaves used and time it is steeped for can be adjusted over time to suit any palate. Below we will discuss the very basics of brewing the ideal cup of this classic warm brew.
- Water temperature should be just cooler than boiling, therefore, once boiled leave the water to settle for a moment. Also ensure that water you use is soft and not tainted by impurities.
- There exists a debate among tea enthusiast regarding the use of infusers when preparing this delicate brew, with some insisting that the true flavour can only be extracted by loose-leaf brewing. This is entirely subjective, and when making the tea – try both methods until you find one that suits you.
- In terms of brewing time, the flavour really comes to life around the three minute mark and after five minutes you’ll have a fully saturated pot or cup.
- Tea purists insist that one should never add milk or sugar, and it is worth it to give the unique aroma of this tea a moment to settle on your palate before diluting the flavour.
Darjeerling tea benefits
The tea is generally considered safe to drink, however it does contain half the caffeine of a cup of coffee, and should be drunk in limited quantities if you are sensitive. The tea, when used as a green tea, also contains high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols, making a great addition to a healthy diet aimed at fighting cellular damage.
It can also provide a healthy immune boost due the plethora of vitamins and minerals it contains. These include but are not limited to: vitamin c, calcium, vitamin k and magnesium. In its green tea form, Darjeerling can also increase metabolic functions, making it a refreshing weight loss drink.
Always keep in mind that there is no one quick fix for medical problems and it is important to always consult a doctor when considering a change in medication or taking any supplement that may have an influence on your health.
Let’s take a quick detour from the tea in case anyone hasn’t seen The Darjeeling Limited movie, which has the popular tea region of India as a backdrop.
Darjeerling on the silver screen?
It is not any tea growing region that can say it has lent its name to a big budget comedic production, but that is the case with The Darjeerling limited. This 2007 comedic gem sees three brothers trying to reconnect while on a train journey through India aboard the eponymous Darjeerling Limited. The movie, much like the tea, is a perfectly unique blend unexpected elements coming together to create an evocative moment in time that lingers in the mind.
Led by an all-star cast consisting of Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody, the film has all the hallmarks of a classic Wes Anderson production, including a quirky soundtrack and anachronistic wardrobe choices. Each character has their own sense of dress that so neatly sums up their character in visual cues. For example, Owen Wilson’s character adorned in head bandages following a recent accident perfectly shows the broken character’s need for acceptance and healing amid the fractured family.
The Darjeerling Limited soundtrack includes three timeless tracks by ‘70’s punk powerhouse The Kinks, once again showcasing its quirky nature as the music acts as an oxymoron to the action on screen. In contrast to most films it also makes use of the same song more than once.
To see India, and the Darjeerling region showcased in its full beauty against the backdrop of a touching family comedy, check out the trailer below:
Darjeeling Limited Trailer
Detour complete, let’s get back to tea.
The most popular form of this tea is a classic cup of black tea that is enjoyed without milk or sugar for its unique flavour; however, it can also be enjoyed in three other forms depending on when the tea is harvested and how it is prepared.
- Oolong: With a light orange and green finish, this tea is made from semi-oxidized Darjeerling leaves harvested in the second flush. In this brew, the muscatel flavour of the tea is more pronounced. The tea gets it taste from being grown at high elevations in low temperatures, and it is made from the only the finest leaves on the plant.
- White: As a white tea, drinkers can expect a sweeter taste compliment by pale golden colour when fully brewed. When making a white tea, more leaves are required and these leaves are sun dried after being picked. This is one of the rarest forms of the tea and can only flourish in specific climates.
- Green: There are estates in Darjeerling that produce green teas as well. For it to qualify as a green tea, the leaves are not fermented, but instead they are steamed to prevent oxidation and this keeps the polyphenols intact, making green tea an impressive antioxidant drink.
Where to buy Darjeeling Tea
Ordering tea online is an easy way to go, but you can probabally find Darjeeling tea of some variety at your local grocer as well. If you choose to order some, here are a few nice options that you can toss into your Amazon cart, and maybe even a new electric kettle while you’re at it?