You can buy Organic Darjeeling Tea online at a click of a button. Here is the story of how Organic Darjeeling Tea finds its way from the tea estates in Darjeeling to your cup to give you the most enriching tea experience! Let's look closely at Organic Darjeeling Black Tea production. You can of course experience it first hand by taking up guided tea tours in Darjeeling as a part of Darjeeling Tourism.
Harvesting of Organic Darjeeling Tea starts in mid-March and continues through November.
The First harvest is called the First Flush which is between Mid- March to April. Flush means the appearance of tender two-leaves-and-a-bud in the tea bushes that will be plucked to make Organic Darjeeling Tea. The second harvest is done during Mid May till June and is known as Second Flush. The Rain Flush is plucked between July to September, and finally, the Autumn Flush is from October until November. The time of harvest or the flushes determines the main characteristics of the tea: Aroma, Sweetness, Briskness, liquor, etc. Only organic methods are used for the cultivation of tea and there is no use of chemicals at any stage.
Darjeeling Tea is plucked as two tender leaves and a bud. Since one has to pick the most tender leaves, the plucking procedure is manual. The Human factor is a major factor in the making of Darjeeling Tea as it ensures accuracy and promises high quality tea.
After plucking, the leaves are weighed and sent to the factory for a series of operations that constitute organic Darjeeling tea production. If we are making black tea, it will start with withering.
Withering is one of the most important steps for tea manufactures and is a quality determinant as well.
Withering involves spreading tea leaves in troughs with the sieved bottom, which lets in the airflow that dries the leaves. If the leaves are wet with mist or moisture, which frequently happens during the rainy season, instead of normal air, heated air is passed through the tea leaves to make them dry.
During withering, the complex chemicals in the tea leaves break down into simpler compounds. For instance, the protein molecule breaks down into amino acids which are responsible for the aroma along with volatile flavour components (VFCs) which are also produced during the process.
At the end of withering, the leaves are flaccid and ready for the next stage that is rolling. Without withering, rolling isn’t possible, since the leaves would have broken during rolling, or would have formed lumps after rolling.
The withering process is 16-18 hours long, and at the end of withering, the lea leaves have 35-40% of its original weight due to loss of moisture.
Rolling is an hour-long process, in which tea leaves are subjected to a roll, between two horizontal discs moving in opposite direction. It is almost like when you place the tea leaves between your palms and rub them in circular movements in the opposite direction. In fact, before rolling machines were invented, that is how tea was rolled. During rolling, the leave cells rupture, and the cell saps are exposed to atmospheric oxygen in whose presence the chemicals and enzymes intermix to build up the character of tea.
Rolled leaves are spread out on oxidation trays for the oxidation process for around 1-2 hours. The oxidation process lends the color and flavor to the tea.
The Polyphenols present in the tea leave saps that are exposed during rolling combines with atmospheric oxygen in the presence of enzymes Polyphenol-oxidase and Polyphenol peroxidase to produce Theaflavins that react with Polyphenols again to form Thearubigins. Thearubigins are responsible for the color of leaves. Amino acid and sugar present in the leaves react with Tehearubigines to produce polymerized molecules that cause the flavor of tea.
The fermented leaves are then put into the dryer where the leaves are dried at 220 degrees Fahrenheit, to get the final product. The drying cycle is usually for 16-22 minutes. Drying stops the chemical reactions of the fermentation stage. It also further depletes the moisture left over in the tea leaves to merely 3%. The dried leaves have a weight of 23% as that of the freshly plucked leaves because of the moisture depletion.
The tea is passed through several sieves of progressively higher sizes to get the different grades of tea, viz: Whole leaf, Broken, Fanning, and Dust.
One can experience the tea making process first hand at the Happy Valley Tea Estate (www.happyvalleytea.com) situated in the heart of Darjeeling Town. This guided tea tour in Darjeeling is an important part of the Tea Tourism in Darjeeling town.
The tea is then packed in paper sacks for dispatching to the Warehouses or packed for retail sale in the domestic market from where the tea is either shipped to foreign countries or is packed in different formats for retail or online sales. One can purchase the best quality Darjeeling Organic Tea online, from www.happyvalleytea.com.