First Flush Darjeeling Teas

Tea, it can be overwhelming when it comes to choosing a tea with the countless types, classifications and descriptions of tea. In the world of premium teas, understanding the meaning of Flush is a good place to start.

Firstly, teas are often classified by type, such as white, green or black. And of course, teas are refined by the region where they are grown, such as China, India, Sri Lanka etc. Some teas are classified by how they are processed, such as scented or flavoured teas like Earl Grey and Jasmine.

To take the next step, many premium teas are also often classified by Flush, or the time of year the tea leaves are plucked. This applies principally to the traditional black tea growing areas in India and Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

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. 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 be quite different from the First Flush.


Darjeeling Tea Pickers





As this season’s First Flush Darjeeling’s arrive with us at Cup of Tea 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 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 involves withering the shoots, fermenting and drying them naturally and then grading according to their size and quality.

86 tea gardens produce First Flush – 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 Singell estate that supplied one of our First Flush teas in 2015 started up in the Victorian period when tea was fast becoming the drink of the British Empire.

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.




Darjeeling is revered as one of - if not the - finest tea districts in the world. Brews from this region are often referred to as the ‘Champagne of Teas’ and impart a gentle flavour.  The Darjeeling region in India stretches between high mountain ridges and deep mountain valleys. The challenging and rough terrain are what makes Darjeeling such an exclusive tea. Darjeeling is only capable of producing 1% of India’s total tea output. Of India’s three main tea growing regions Darjeeling is not the largest but is known for growing some of the most prized tea in the world.

Darjeeling Tea Garden





The journey of a First Flush tea leaf, from the tea plant to your cup is a fine one. From its early beginnings from the foot of the Himalayas to the first sip in our tea cups, here we look at its fascinating journey……


Darjeeling Tea Garden tea pickers


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! This year we have some fantastic First Flush teas such as Darjeeling Phoobsering First Flush Organic and Darjeeling Singbulli First Flush Organic.


Darjeeling Singbulli First Flush Organic and Darjeeling Phoobsering First Flush Organic




When you buy a First Flush tea you are buying some of the freshest and most exquisite tea available. First Flush are premium teas so you are usually making an investment in the tea. They are usually only lightly oxidized so that their fresh flavour can shine through. First Flush teas can last up to 2 years if stored properly in a cool, dark, airtight container away from light, moisture and pantry items such as coffee and spices that can filter flavour into the tea leaves. We have a fantastic range of plain and patterned caddies to choose from to store your First Flush teas. Our favourites are the Brushed Round Double Lid 125g Tea Caddy available in gold, black, matt blue, brushed silver and gold, £5.90 and the Leaf 500g Tea Caddy available in two colours; green and rose £10.80.


Bushed Round Double Lid 125g Tea Caddy and Leaf 500g Tea Caddy





Grown in only one region, First Flush Darjeeling tea is something special and not to be missed!

Here is our handy guide on how to brew the perfect cup of First Flush tea….

Boil some fresh cold water

Place your tea leaves in a tea strainer

Pour the boiling water onto the leaves

Steep the tea for the appropriate amount of time

Strain the tea

Sweeten to taste if you need (Darjeeling tea tastes best without milk)

Sit back and enjoy!


Brewed Tumsong First Flush Organic loose-leaf tea

£10.90 for a 100g bag 

Tumsong First Flush Organic Tea




























Posted by cup of tea admin
18th May 2018

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