The Lure of Darjeeling Teas

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by Danielle Beaudette

The tea gardens throughout Darjeeling produce teas with different characteristics in taste and aroma with little bitterness and astringency due to their geographical location near the Himalayas. The high elevation, mist and fog, sunny weather, and the rich soil are unique to this region. There are locals who believe that the mountain range is the breath of God that brings the winds that cool the sunny region, and the mist and fog which provides the moisture. What we do know is that the estate owners and laborers work diligently to provide us with some of the finest teas in the world.

In Darjeeling, tea was first introduced by Dr. Campbell, who planted there around 1847. Camellia sinensis seeds were brought from China through the northern Kumaon Hills of India. The plant seeds thrived on the 7,000 foot hillsides of the Himalayas. Unlike the Camellia assamica leaves most widely found in India, these hardy plants produced smaller leaves and after eleven years, the first gardens flourished and the commercial sales had begun.