The story of Darjeeling teas started some 150 years ago when Dr Campbell (a civil surgeon), as an experiment planted Chinese tea seeds in his garden at Darjeeling, then a small hill town resort used by the army and well-off. The experiment went well and the government decided to set up nurseries in the area.
The first commercial tea gardens were planted by the British in 1852. By 1866,Darjeeling had 39 gardens producing a total crop of 21,000kgs of tea. In 1870, the number of gardens had increased to 56 gardens yielding 71,000 kgs. Today , Darjeeling produces the world's best aromatic teas. Presently, Darjeeling has 86 tea gardens which produce about 10 million kgs of tea annually
In Darjeeling 4 major crops are harvested over the year, and the same bush gives five different characters of tea over the harvest seasons
The First Flush from the first week of March to the first week of May, is greenish in appearance and has a mild liquor and floral aroma.
In-Between Flush – can yield some excellent teas
The Second Flush, more matured than the 1st in terms of aroma and liquor, with the world renowned Muscatel flavour. This crop is harvested from the end of the third week of May to the third week of June.
The Third Flush, known as the Monsoon Flush (July to September), this crop can be flat and dull although there are some outstanding exceptions.
The Autumnal Flush, the last and final crop, which is harvested from the last week of September to the 2nd week of November. This harvest gives the strongest liquor as it passes through the summer and monsoon. This tea has a remarkable aroma.