Our First 'Flush' Darjeeling

Fans of our famous teas will know that something special happens every spring, namely the Darjeeling First ‘Flush’

The First ‘Flush’ period is when the freshest young tea leaves and buds are first picked, generally between early March and mid-April. The very first pickings of the First ‘Flush’ are then used to produce the very first batch of the season, some very special tea indeed.

Every year we commission Bannockburn estate to produce the very best first batch of the new season’s growth exclusively for Fortnum’s. Bannockburn was one of the very first tea gardens in Darjeeling and was planted out in the 1850s, shortly after the British brought the earliest Chinese tea plants to the region. We first chose Bannockburn estate because of its higher elevation, which brings about slower leaf growth in the cooler mist and clouds that surround the Himalayan foothills. This gentle growth allows the bushes to ‘flush’ new young leaves slowly following their recovery during the winter, soaking up fresh minerals and developing a clean and complex yet light flavour.

All tea bushes on Darjeeling’s gardens lay dormant during the cold winter months; some even get a covering of Himalayan snow during this period. Once the warmer spring weather arrives the bushes come out of their dormancy and begin to produce new, fresh leaf grown – known as ‘flushing’. The First ‘Flush’ of the season is renowned in the tea world and is a celebrated event.

First Flush Picking

A highly fragrant aroma and complex in flavour – pale orange colour in the cup, with a slight tint of green, the tea is lively with tones of lemon and orange citrus; with a clear dry Darjeeling minerality and a hint of apricot. It is crisp yet mellow and has a slight honey sweetness.

Making The Perfect First ‘Flush’

Add one rounded teaspoon per person, plus 'one for the pot', to a warmed teapot. Bring freshly drawn water to the boil and pour immediately over the leaves. Allow to brew for 3-5 minutes and stir prior to serving. Decant the tea through a tea strainer. First Flush Darjeeling is best drunk without milk. First Flush Darjeeling is a perfect afternoon refreshment, and the ideal accompaniment to light, savoury afternoon treats such as scones and cucumber sandwiches.

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