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First 'Flush' Darjeeling Tea

 

A RARE & CELEBRATED TEA

 

Our First Flush Darjeeling is unique from any other tea that we produce. It hails from the historic Badamtam Estate, where high altitude and cool Himalayan winds produce a superb aromatic spring tea with exceptional minerality and clarity. And what's more, the first crop of 2021 ‘Invoice DJ1’ is exclusive to Fortnum's.

 

Every spring the First Flush represents the beginning of a new season of growth in Darjeeling, India. The First Flush is the name given to the first leaves that are picked every Spring, known as ‘flushing’ - these leaves contain the deepest flavour and highest quality of the year, renowned in the tea world and is a celebrated event.

 

All tea bushes in Darjeeling’s gardens lay dormant during the cold winter months, some even get a covering of Himalayan snow. After waiting all winter for new growth, the first buds of the new season leaves only between 14 - 21 days – usually between February and March – for pickers to harvest the very best of the newly grown tea leaves.

 

Our First Flush Darjeeling celebrates the arrival of Spring. While the tea itself is wonderfully serene to drink, the immense journey these little leaves must go through before reaching the cup is what makes this tea so special.

 

The expertise of the tea connoisseurs at Badamtam Estate, where our Darjeeling is grown, gives them the unique ability to know exactly when the leaves are ready to be picked. Equally, they need use only their trained eyes to decipher what is of the highest quality.

 

The challenging conditions in which the tea leaves are grown is what gives them their deep, fresh flavour. The tea pickers rise at dawn in the hopes that the sun will break through the clouds above the mountainous valley and encourage the leaves to grow.

 

While beautiful to behold, these mountainous conditions mean that the Darjeeling tea leaves grow in incredibly steep terrain, with high altitudes and extreme elevations. These harsh growing conditions bring out a juicy, floral flavour, while the leaves that are picked later – during monsoon season – are grown in far easier conditions and, in turn, have less of a full and flavoursome taste.

 

Highly fragrant 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.

Our First Flush Darjeeling is unique from any other tea that we produce. Hailing from the historic Badamtam Estate, where high altitude and cool Himalayan winds produce a superb aromatic spring tea with exceptional minerality and clarity. And what's more, the first crop of 2021 ‘Invoice DJ1’ is exclusive to Fortnum's.

 

Every spring the First Flush represents the beginning of a new season of growth in Darjeeling, India. The First Flush is the name given to the first leaves that are picked every Spring, known as ‘flushing’ - these leaves contain the deepest flavour and highest quality of the year, renowned in the tea world and is a celebrated event.

 

All tea bushes in Darjeeling’s gardens lay dormant during the cold winter months, some even get a covering of Himalayan snow. After waiting all winter for new growth, the first buds of the new season leaves only between 14 - 21 days – usually between February and March – for pickers to harvest the very best of the newly grown tea leaves.

 

Our First Flush Darjeeling celebrates the arrival of Spring, however, due to the world impact of COVID-19, a smaller amount of tea was harvested during May and June. With only 25% of the workforce allowed into the field due to social distancing, their main focus in the gardens is to maintain the tea bushes, and not plucking, making this season’s First Flush incredibly rare.

 

While the tea itself is wonderfully serene to drink, the immense journey these little leaves must go through before reaching the cup is what makes this tea so special.

 

The expertise of the tea connoisseurs at Badamtam Estate, where our Darjeeling is grown, gives them the unique ability to know exactly when the leaves are ready to be picked. Equally, they need use only their trained eyes to decipher what is of the highest quality.

 

The challenging conditions in which the tea leaves are grown is what gives them their deep, fresh flavour. The tea pickers rise at dawn in the hopes that the sun will break through the clouds above the mountainous valley and encourage the leaves to grow.

 

While beautiful to behold, these mountainous conditions mean that the Darjeeling tea leaves grow in incredibly steep terrain, with high altitudes and extreme elevations. These harsh growing conditions bring out a juicy, floral flavour, while the leaves that are picked later – during monsoon season – are grown in far easier conditions and, in turn, have less of a full and flavoursome taste.

 

Highly fragrant 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.

 

 

Turning Leaf into Tea

 

After the bud and two leaves are picked they are laid out to wither overnight. The next day the leaves are rolled out, creating a slight twist to the leaves, and they are then laid out to oxidise - It is a highly unique skill to know exactly how long the leaves need to be oxidised, as if they are left too long the flavour of the tea will change entirely.

 

The leaves are then dried and sorted into different tea grades, with only the very best going into our caddies. While thankfully there is no short supply of many of our famous teas, Darjeeling is unique in that it is grown in rather small quantities. Around 550 million kilos per year of Assam are grown, for example, while around only 10 million kilos of Darjeeling tea are grown each year.

 

 

 

How to Brew

 

Our First Flush represents many things – the emergence of Spring, the incredible resilience of the tea leaf and the unique expertise that are needed to grow such a remarkable tea.

 

While wonderfully unique, treat this beloved brew as you would your other favourite Fortnum’s blends – no milk, brew at 90 degrees and don’t forget to serve with your favourite biscuit alongside.