What is Darjeeling Tea? A Complete Guide

I’ve recently had the wonderful experience of making Darjeeling Tea at home, and the journey was amazing. But before we dive into that, let’s answer an important question:

What is Darjeeling Tea?

Darjeeling Tea
Darjeeling Tea

Darjeeling Tea, often lauded as the “Champagne of Teas”, is an exquisite variety of tea from the Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India. This Indian Darjeeling Black Tea, Made from the Camellia Sinensis plant, is recognised as one of the most aromatic teas in the world owing to its unique geographical location. Nestled at the southern end of the mighty Himalayas, the Darjeeling plateau’s climatic conditions lend this tea its distinctive aroma and flavour.


Tracing its roots back to the 19th century, Organic Darjeeling Tea has come to represent the rich legacy of Indian tea culture. What sets it apart is its distinctive aroma and its distinctive seasonality.

Darjeeling tea is harvested three times a year, and each “flush” or harvest season imparts a unique taste profile.

  1. The first flush, or the spring picking, occurs from March to April, presenting us with the first Black tea of the year. This spring, Darjeeling black tea is distinguished by its many tender buds, and the resulting tea shares some qualities with green tea. Its tea liquor is a beautiful golden yellow, much like the hue of champagne, and the flavor is refreshingly light.
  2. The second flush, or summer picking, from May to July, is hailed for producing the highest quality Darjeeling tea of the year. The tea leaves harvested during this period are more mature, leading to a Black tea with a richer taste, a strong character, and a lingering sweet aftertaste. What sets the summer Darjeeling tea apart is its incredible muscat grape-like aroma. The brewed tea reveals a deep golden yellow or light orange hue, adding to its allure.
  3. Finally, the autumnal flush, the last harvest of the year from late October to November, gives us the autumnal Darjeeling Black tea. The specific characteristics of this flush will be covered in detail as we progress further into the world of Darjeeling tea.
What is Darjeeling tea
What is Darjeeling tea

So, sit back and embark on a fascinating journey to explore the benefits of darjeeling tea. Whether you’re a tea connoisseur or a beginner looking to expand your horizons, you’re in for an aromatic treat!

Darjeeling Tea History & Origin

The story of Darjeeling Tea begins in the highlands of the Himalayas. Darjeeling, a word of Tibetan origin, translates to a ‘highland where thunder rumbles’, beautifully encapsulating the region’s aura. It is nestled at the intersection of northeastern India and Nepal, surrounded by nature’s bountiful beauty.

Darjeeling Tea History & Origin
Darjeeling Tea in India

The celebrated American author Mark Twain, during his visit, was so captivated by Darjeeling that he said, “The one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once by even a glimpse would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the world combined.”

Today, this enchanting town is renowned for its stunning vistas and for producing the world’s most noble Black tea – Darjeeling tea.

The cultivation of Darjeeling Black tea dates back more than 150 years. Its inception is credited to the British colonists who planted tea gardens in the region. In 1866, there were 39 small tea gardens in Darjeeling, producing just 21 metric tons of tea. 

Yet, Darjeeling tea’s unmatched quality and flavour soon led to its popularity and increased cultivation. Over the years, this small town expanded into a large tea-producing region with 86 tea gardens, boasting an impressive annual output of 10,000 metric tons.

Darjeeling process
Darjeeling process

To protect the authenticity and reputation of Darjeeling tea, the Indian government has put official regulations in place. As per these regulations, only Black tea produced in the Darjeeling region can bear the prestigious name of Darjeeling Tea. 

This designation maintains the exclusivity of the tea and ensures that consumers worldwide receive the genuine, high-quality Darjeeling tea they expect.

What are the main types of Darjeeling Tea?

Types of Darjeeling Tea
Types of Darjeeling Tea

Black darjeeling tea offers an array of types that differ primarily based on the time of harvest, known as a ‘flush’. Each flush lends a unique flavour profile and colour to the tea. Here, we will explore the five primary types of Darjeeling tea, classified according to their respective flushes.

Flush Type Harvest Time Characteristics Price Range
1. Darjeeling First Flush Late February to April Light, clear color, floral scent, fresh emergence Higher
2. Darjeeling Second Flush May to June Dark amber hue, fruity taste, muscatel grapes Moderate to High
3. Darjeeling Third Flush October to November Dark/coppery brew, larger leaves Slightly lower
4. In-Between Flush Between first and second Similar to first flush, slightly lower quality Moderate
5. Monsoon Flush During monsoon season Strong, robust flavor, lower prices Lower

1. Darjeeling First Flush Tea

Darjeeling First Flush tea, the earliest harvest of the year, arrives right after the winter dormancy, typically between late February and April. This tea’s light and clear colour is as refreshing as the season it represents.

Its leaves exude a distinct, bright, and floral scent, reflecting their fresh emergence. The first flush teas are prized for their freshness and lightness, so they often command higher prices than the other flushes.

2. Darjeeling Second Flush Tea

Harvested from May to June, the Darjeeling Second Flush tea is characterized by its dark, amber hue and strong, full-bodied flavor. This flush yield leaves with a purplish bloom and a fruity taste reminiscent of muscatel grapes. 

The unique flavor results from a synergistic blend of the region’s typical weather, topography, and tea plant varieties. Because of its rich and unique taste, the second flush is a favorite among many tea connoisseurs.

3. Darjeeling Third Flush (Autumnal) Tea

The Darjeeling Third or Autumnal Flush tea is harvested in autumn, usually from October to November. This flush yields a dark or coppery colored brew, a testament to the changing season. 

The leaves from this harvest are typically larger than those of other seasons. While the autumnal flush offers a delightful experience, it tends to be priced slightly lower than the first and second-flush teas.

4. In-Between Flush Tea

Harvested between the first and second flushes, the In-Between Flush tea shares similarities with the first flush but is often slightly lower in quality due to the changing weather conditions. Yet, it offers an enjoyable cup that is a testament to Darjeeling tea’s versatility.

5. Monsoon Flush Tea

As the name suggests, the Monsoon Flush tea is harvested during the monsoon season. This tea is more oxidised, resulting in a stronger, robust flavour. Due to the abundance of rain this season, the monsoon flush tea is usually sold at lower prices and is commonly used in masala chai blends.

With each flush, Darjeeling tea tells a unique story of the passing seasons, capturing the changing nuances of the weather and terroir in every cup. No matter which types you choose, a sip of Darjeeling tea is a flavorful journey through the beautiful highlands of the Himalayas.

Read More:

What Is The Caffeine Content in Darjeeling Tea?

Darjeeling tea contains approximately 50 milligrams of caffeine per 8-fluid-ounce cup, varying based on the flush or harvest season. All types of tea derived from the Camellia sinensis species, including Darjeeling, have a small amount of caffiene.

You will need around 7 grams of Black tea to create a typical cup. As a result, the average cup of Darjeeling tea has a caffeine content of about 120 mg, similar to a strong cup of coffee.

Now, let’s delve into more details about how Darjeeling tea caffeine content different from other popular beverages.

Tea Type Caffeine Content (per 8 oz serving) Acidity Level
Green Tea 24 – 40 mg Medium
Darjeeling Tea ~50 mg Low
Assam Black Tea 60-75 mg Medium-High
Coffee 95-200 mg High

So, whether you’re trying to manage your caffeine intake or are simply curious about your favorite brew, understanding the caffeine content of Darjeeling tea can be useful. As always, enjoy your tea mindfully and savour every sip!

What does Darjeeling tea taste like?

Darjeeling tea offers a complex and intriguing flavor profile, reminiscent of muscat wine’s muscadine honey aroma, accompanied by the delicate scents of vegetables, moss, fruit, and citrus. It’s unique because it’s essentially a Chinese tea plant variety growing in the Indian land of Darjeeling. Specifically, many of the tea trees cultivated here are small-leaf varieties, unlike the more common large-leaf tea trees found elsewhere in India.

Darjeeling tea taste like

The taste of Darjeeling tea significantly deviates from that of other Chinese Black teas. Darjeeling is a distinct darjeeling tea black characterised by a lower degree of fermentation, resulting in a remarkable balance between Black tea’s robustness and Green tea’s mellowness. 

The brewing process reveals a clear tea soup with very low astringency and a richer and more full-bodied taste profile than your typical green tea.

However, one of the most fascinating aspects of Darjeeling tea is the impact of the flush or picking time on its taste. The same Darjeeling tea from the same estate can exhibit completely different aromas depending on the harvest time. 

Spanning the entire tea-growing season from spring to autumn, the flavours transition from light and delicate to rich and full-bodied. 

The red-wine aroma becomes more prominent as the season progresses. Spring-picked Darjeeling, which uses the freshest and most tender tea leaves, typically presents a delicate and soft fragrance.

Health Benefits of Darjeeling Tea

Benefits of Darjeeling tea

The benefits stretch far beyond its exquisite taste and aroma, offering many health advantages backed by scientific research. Let’s explore some benefits of Darjeeling tea, including providing essential antioxidants and potentially reducing cancer risk.

Benefit Description
Provides Essential Antioxidants
Darjeeling tea contains antioxidants like thearubigins and theaflavins, which combat cellular damage and eliminate toxins.
Reduces the Risk of Cancer
Polyphenolic compounds in Darjeeling tea may inhibit cancer cell growth and reduce cellular mutations.
Ensures Adequate Hydration
Drinking Darjeeling tea contributes to daily hydration goals.
Relieves Stress and Enhances Alertness
Darjeeling tea helps regulate cortisol production, reducing stress and promoting mental alertness.
Enhances Cardiovascular Health
Darjeeling tea enhances blood flow, reduces LDL cholesterol oxidation, and contains quercetin for heart health.
Weight Loss
Regular consumption of Darjeeling tea may aid in weight loss due to its catechin content.
Lower Parkinson’s Disease
Compounds like L-theanine in Darjeeling tea may help prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.

Provides Essential Antioxidants

Drinking Darjeeling tea regularly boosts health and well-being by fighting cellular damage and eliminating toxins with its rich antioxidants.

Darjeeling tea is a powerhouse of vital antioxidants, such as thearubigins and theaflavins. These complex compounds play a crucial role in combating free radicals – unstable molecules that can cause damage to your body cells. 

They also assist in neutralising harmful chemicals during digestion and facilitating the elimination of toxins from your body. A deficiency in these antioxidants can lead to accelerated cellular damage, an increased risk of chronic illnesses, and expedited aging. 

Regularly drinking Darjeeling tea can help bridge this antioxidant deficit, promoting overall health and well-being.

Reduces the Risk of Cancer

Darjeeling tea, containing polyphenolic compounds, contributes to health and wellness by potentially inhibiting cancer cell growth and reducing cellular mutations.

Darjeeling tea health benefits

Darjeeling tea harbours polyphenolic compounds, which are reported to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in several ways and even stall tumour development. It possesses anti-mutagenic properties that lessen the frequency of cellular mutations, a process often associated with cancer development. 

Several detailed studies have been conducted on this topic, further affirming the potential cancer-fighting properties of Darjeeling tea.

While these are just two examples, the list of Darjeeling tea health benefits continues, as this flavorful beverage offers a holistic approach to health, one delicious cup at a time. In subsequent sections, we’ll delve into more benefits, providing a comprehensive overview of how this delightful brew can contribute to your health and wellness journey.

As with all foods and beverages, it’s important to note that while Darjeeling tea can contribute to a healthy diet, it’s not a standalone solution for any specific health conditions. Always consult healthcare professionals or dietitians regarding health concerns or dietary adjustments.

Ensures Adequate Hydration

Let’s pay attention to hydration’s essential role in maintaining our health and well-being. Experts often suggest drinking eight glasses of water daily as a practical guide to ward off dehydration. 

Here’s the good news for all tea lovers – every cup of Darjeeling tea you enjoy contributes to this daily hydration target!

Relieves Stress and Enhances Alertness

Do you ever feel overworked or overwhelmed? Darjeeling tea is your perfect ally in combating stress. This humble brew can help regulate the production of cortisol, a hormone often associated with stress. 

Not only can this lead to a happier state of mind, but it can also benefit a wide range of health conditions linked with stress – such as high blood pressure, skin conditions, heart problems, asthma, depression, arthritis, and anxiety. 

Darjeeling tea contributes to a healthier, more resilient immune system by keeping stress at bay.

Moreover, Darjeeling tea is not just about relaxation. The subtle caffeine content in this tea can help restore mental alertness and improve your focus. Some people might even experience an energy boost after a cup. 

So, whether you’re starting a busy day or need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, Darjeeling tea can balance relaxation and revitalisation.

Enhance Cardiovascular Health

Did you know your cup of Darjeeling tea could be a little heart hero? That’s right, and this tea has potential to boost cardiovascular health. It aids in enhancing blood flow while also curbing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, often dubbed ‘bad cholesterol.’

Moreover, Darjeeling tea comes packed with a compound called quercetin. This compound is known for reducing the risk of atherosclerosis – a condition characterised by plaque buildup in the arteries. Such a buildup can precipitate serious health threats like heart attacks and strokes. Therefore, a daily cup or two of Darjeeling tea might be just what you need to keep your heart beating strong and healthy.

Weight Loss

Darjeeling tea could be your best companion if you’re on a weight-loss journey. Scientific studies have indicated that regular consumption of Darjeeling tea can help reduce belly fat and expedite weight loss. Interestingly, like semi-oxidised Darjeeling tea, tea blends with higher oxidation levels seem more effective in promoting weight loss than their less oxidised counterparts.

The probable reason? It’s the high concentration of catechins found in these teas. Catechins are natural antioxidants known for their potential to increase fat-burning and boost metabolism. So, if you’re seeking a pleasant, natural aid to your weight loss journey, a steaming cup of Darjeeling tea might be just the ticket.

Lower Parkinson’s Disease

Indian researchers have discovered that certain bioactive compounds in Darjeeling tea, notably L-theanine, may help prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. 

The risk of developing Parkinson’s disease generally increases with age, often exacerbated by stress, unhealthy dietary habits, and an unhealthy lifestyle.

The soothing, mood-enhancing qualities of L-theanine and its potential neuroprotective properties make Darjeeling tea an enticing focus for researchers studying the disease’s prevention and progression. 

Thus, incorporating this aromatic tea into your daily routine may be a step toward safeguarding your neurological health. However, it’s important to note that these studies are ongoing, and more research is needed to confirm these Darjeeling tea benefits fully.

What are the typical Darjeeling Tea Side Effects

Although there are many darjeeling tea benefits, it’s important to note that overconsumption can also lead to some side effects:

Digestive Issues

Like other tea varieties, Darjeeling tea contains plant compounds known as tannins. When consumed in excess, these tannins can lead to digestive issues such as nausea and constipation. 

They can also interfere with iron absorption, potentially leading to anaemia in some individuals, particularly those with existing iron deficiencies.

Caffeine Content

Despite its moderate caffeine content compared to other teas, it’s important to remember that Darjeeling tea does contain caffeine.

Consuming more than 400 mg of caffeine daily (or 200 mg for pregnant women, people with migraines, heart conditions, or certain mental health conditions) may negatively affect mood, sleep quality, and heart health. 

Therefore, if you’re sensitive to caffeine or fall into these categories, you may need to limit your Darjeeling tea consumption.

Potential for Teeth Staining

The tannins in Darjeeling tea can also contribute to staining the enamel, the outer layer of your teeth, if consumed frequently over time. However, adding a bit of milk to your tea can significantly reduce the risk of staining.

How to make Darjeeling Tea at Home

How to make Darjeeling Tea

Enjoying a well-brewed cup of Darjeeling tea at home is an excellent way to unwind, especially when it results from your efforts. Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide on how to do it.


  • 1 Darjeeling tea bag or approximately 1 tbsp. of dried Darjeeling tea leaves
  • 1 cup (237 mL) of water
  • Optional: sugar, honey, milk, or fresh lemon juice for taste


  • Your preferred type of tea infuser
  • Kettle or pot to heat the water


  1. Start by placing your Darjeeling tea bag or about 1 tablespoon of dried Darjeeling tea leaves in your infuser.
  2. Next, heat 1 cup (237 mL) of water to 185–203°F (85–95°C). The right water temperature is important for extracting the perfect flavor and aroma from the tea leaves.
  3. Once the water reaches the desired temperature, pour it over the tea leaves and let them steep for about 3–5 minutes. This allows enough time for the flavors and beneficial compounds to infuse into the water.
  4. After steeping, remove the infuser, and your hot Darjeeling tea is ready to enjoy.

You can find tea bags and loose leaves at retail stores, tea shops, or online.


  • Many people enjoy Darjeeling tea independently due to its unique flavour. However, if you prefer, you can enhance the taste by adding a little sugar, honey, milk, or fresh lemon juice. Added ingredients may alter the tea’s nutritional value and antioxidant benefits. Enjoy your homemade Darjeeling tea responsibly, savoring each sip of this delightful beverage.
  • To enhance your tea-drinking experience, pre-warm your teapot and cups. Simply rinse them with hot water. This ensures that your tea stays warm for a longer period!

Buying and Storing Tips & Tricks

Securing a quality stash of Darjeeling tea and maintaining its freshness is essential for enjoying the best tea experience. Last month, while preparing for our family’s afternoon tea session, I considered these points while buying and storing our Darjeeling tea:

Purchasing Darjeeling Tea

You can find Darjeeling tea in both loose-leaf form and tea bags. These are available at upscale grocery stores, specialty coffee/tea shops, or online retailers. I chose loose-leaf tea for its superior flavor and freshness during my shopping.

Storing Darjeeling Tea

Once you’ve purchased your Darjeeling tea, proper storage is vital to retain its unique and aromatic qualities. Darjeeling tea is delicate and can lose its aroma if exposed to air over extended periods. It’s also sensitive to humid conditions, direct sunlight, high temperatures, and strong odors.

Darjeeling Tea Black

I recommend storing Darjeeling tea in a sealed container tucked away in a dark pantry to preserve its freshness. I always place my tea container away from strongly scented items in the pantry to prevent unwanted aroma transfer.

Try to consume your Darjeeling tea within two years of its harvest for the best flavor. This ensures you’re drinking it at its prime, as I ensured we did for our delightful afternoon tea. Enjoy your Darjeeling tea purchasing and storing journey, and most importantly, its exceptional taste!

Exploring the world of Darjeeling tea, you’ll come across many renowned brands each offering a unique twist on this traditional brew. Twinings, for instance, is famous for its classic Darjeeling blend known for its delicate muscatel undertones. Dilmah, on the other hand, provides a robust Darjeeling that leaves a lasting impression with its distinct aroma.

Companies like Amway have also ventured into the Darjeeling tea market, introducing their versions packed with the natural goodness of antioxidants. If you’re seeking an authentic tea experience, Makaibari, an esteemed tea estate in Darjeeling, offers premium-grade teas harvested and processed in the region.

Ahmad’s Darjeeling blend could be an excellent choice for a blend that pairs perfectly with a dash of milk. It’s a comforting brew with the right balance of strength and sweetness.

While the price of Darjeeling tea can vary based on factors such as the brand, the grade, and the flush, each of these brands offers exceptional quality, ensuring that you get great value for your money. Enjoying a cup of Darjeeling tea is truly an experience worth savouring.

What are the outstanding Darjeeling Tea brands to try

Exploring the world of Darjeeling tea, you’ll come across many renowned brands, each offering a unique twist on this traditional brew. Twinings, for instance, is famous for its classic Darjeeling blend, known for its delicate muscatel undertones. Dilmah, on the other hand, provides a robust Darjeeling that leaves a lasting impression with its distinct aroma.

Companies like Amway have also ventured into the Darjeeling tea market, introducing their versions packed with the natural goodness of antioxidants. If you’re seeking an authentic tea experience, Makaibari, an esteemed tea estate in Darjeeling, offers premium-grade teas harvested and processed in the region.

Ahmad’s Darjeeling blend could be an excellent choice for a blend that pairs perfectly with a dash of milk. It’s a comforting brew with the right balance of strength and sweetness.

While the price of Darjeeling tea can vary based on factors such as the brand, the grade, and the flush, each of these brands offers exceptional quality, ensuring that you get great value for your money. Enjoying a cup of Darjeeling tea is truly an experience worth savouring.


I hope this comprehensive guide to Darjeeling tea has been informative and helpful. Have you tried Darjeeling tea, or are you planning to do so after reading this article? We’d love to hear about your experiences and thoughts.

Don’t hesitate to share this article with your friends and family on social media, and let’s spread the word about this exquisite beverage. Remember, the world of tea is vast and diverse, and there’s always more to discover and enjoy. So, let’s explore it together, one cup at a time.

Thanks for spiriteadrinks.com


Does Darjeeling tea reduce belly fat?

Research suggests that Darjeeling tea could aid in weight loss due to catechins, a type of antioxidant known to enhance metabolism and fat burning.

Can I take Darjeeling tea on an empty stomach?

It’s generally safe to drink Darjeeling tea on an empty stomach. However, the tea’s tannins could cause stomach discomfort for some individuals.

Does Darjeeling tea help with cramps?

While there’s no definitive scientific evidence that Darjeeling tea can directly alleviate cramps, its mild caffeine content and warmth can relieve some people from discomfort and muscle tension.

What is the best way to drink Darjeeling tea?

The best way to enjoy Darjeeling tea is to brew it correctly. Heat water to 185–203°F (85–95°C), then steep the tea leaves for 3-5 minutes. While many people enjoy Darjeeling tea on its own, others add a little sugar, honey, milk, or fresh lemon juice, but remember that additions can alter the nutritional value.

Can I drink Darjeeling tea every day?

Yes, it’s safe to drink Darjeeling tea daily in moderation. Doing so can provide various health benefits, but be mindful of its caffeine content and potential digestive impact if consumed excessively.

What are the long-term health effects of drinking tea every day?

Daily tea consumption can provide many health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, stress relief, hydration, and antioxidants. Darjeeling tea, in particular, can also reduce the risk of cancer and may even help with weight loss. However, avoiding overconsumption is essential as it can lead to digestive issues and affect mood and sleep due to caffeine content.

Which is beneficial, darjeeling tea vs Black tea?

Both Black tea and Darjeeling tea have health benefits. Green tea is known for its rich antioxidant properties and potential weight loss benefits. However, Darjeeling tea also provides antioxidants, reduces cancer risk, and potentially helps with weight loss. Choosing between the two would mainly depend on personal flavour preference.

Should you add milk to Darjeeling tea?

While some people enjoy Darjeeling tea with milk, many tea connoisseurs suggest drinking it plain to fully appreciate its complex flavors. Adding milk can also change the tea’s nutritional profile, although it can reduce the risk of staining your teeth.

Why are Darjeeling teas famous?

Darjeeling teas are famous for their distinct flavor profile, often described as muscatel with a delicate aroma of flowers, moss, fruit, and citrus. The unique geography and climate of the Darjeeling region contribute to the tea’s exceptional flavor, earning it the title “the champagne of teas.”

When should I drink Darjeeling tea?

Darjeeling tea can be enjoyed at any time of the day. However, due to its caffeine content, it is often enjoyed in the morning or early afternoon. Drinking it too late in the day could potentially disrupt sleep for those sensitive to caffeine.

Why is Darjeeling Tea the best tea?

Darjeeling tea is often called the “champagne of teas” due to its distinctive muscatel flavor and high-quality processing. The unique growing conditions in the Darjeeling region of India, including altitude and climate, contribute to its uniquely delicate, floral flavour that can’t be replicated elsewhere.

Is Darjeeling tea the same as Earl Grey?

No, Darjeeling Tea and Earl Grey are not the same. While Darjeeling tea is a type of Black tea grown in the Darjeeling district of India, Earl Grey is any Black, Green, or White tea scented with oil from the rind of the bergamot orange, a citrus fruit.

Why is Darjeeling tea so expensive?

Darjeeling tea is considered expensive due to its high quality and limited production. It is grown exclusively in the Darjeeling region of India and only during specific periods known as “flushes”. The unique growing conditions and manual processing methods contribute to the cost.