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Just like that, we visited the heartland, and we couldn't agree more. If you don't already know, for a tea to be called Darjeeling, it needs to come from the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India.
The languorous drive to Darjeeling on an unusually narrow road, through spotless mountain villages, ranked by gardens of tea - this experience, and the story is worth a minute for all our tea lovers.
Darjeeling Tea is the only tea in the world to get protection under the Geographical Indication (GI) trademark. So, here's a fun fact. These teas are the highest elevation-produced teas the world over, and the Darjeeling hills' altitude creates the ideal environment.
The unique muscatel flavor, and the special aroma just made us appreciate true beauty, in this misty heaven-on-earth destination - Darjeeling. The first flush has fresh floral, fruity, and vegetal notes, the second flush muscatels are wine-like and the autumnal flush is superb and a well-hidden secret.
We, and our li'l tea sommeliers in training - our daughters, visited Darjeeling in July to meet small tea growers and manufacturers. We love meeting our tea farmers and working with them directly to get you their best batches and the most wonderful aromas and flavors in your cup. We have added two new small tea manufacturers who are supporting their local community and village. They pay way above fair prices for bought leaves to the tea pluckers who they buy tea leaves from. Small tea growers and manufacturers are a revolution in Indian tea and we feel the future. It is more sustainable and an excellent alternative to the colonial practices that continue to be carried on in the larger tea estates. We are excited to support them in their journey and grow together.
While we are awe-struck by the beauty of Darjeeling and marvelous hand cultivated, artisanal teas, we also found that as a result of the rising costs for the tea gardens, they are finding it hard to make ends meet. Just like any urban story, several of the tea gardens in the area are being purchased by hoteliers for tourism, but the quality of tea produced thereafter can be questionable. So, how will they be able to survive and continue making these wonderful Darjeeling teas?
The answer is simple, we need to stop thinking of fine Indian teas as a commodity! Direct sourcing, transparency, and a strong commitment are important to be able to sustain the future of these wonderful Darjeeling teas.
Straight from India to your doorstep: Herbs & Kettles finest finds in Darjeeling
Darjeeling Rare Frosted Oolong
Darjeeling Everest Gold Muscatel
Darjeeling Golden Summer Muscatel