I've bought Twinings Darjeeling (loose) and I don't like it at all. I've
also tried other cheap brands (lipton, I belive) and it was also worthless.
This would lead me to the conclusion that I simply dont like darjeeling
if it wasn't that I have also tried some First Flush from the teastore
and it was not only good, it was nothing like the Twinings or Lipton
So do I have a question? Is there some kind of standard Darjeeling or
is it a very wide category? Can you expect anything from a tea bearing
It is something akin to wine - Bordeaux can produce plonk or very good
stuff. The same Chateau can produce plonk or very good stuff and this
varies by season and year.
Like all agricultural products it is a wide category - a tea grown in
Darjeeling could be insipid and horrid and generally without character.
What Darjeeling is famous for (as are other tea growing regions) is an
intense flavor that is unique to the area - maybe 5 percent or less of
the tea grown there has that character. Most of the rest of the tea
will have varying amounts of this character so just on a probability
basis you are unlikely to run into a "good" Darjeeling. It probably
takes more money to buy a tea that has good Darjeeling character. This
does not mean that if you spend a lot of money you will necessarily find
good true Darjeeling character. For the most part it is a frustrating
experience of buying lots of tea and finding a little that you like.
If you taste the prototypical example of any famous tea (oolong, lung
Chin, Darjeeling, Assam etc. etc) you are likely to be impressed even if
you naturally do not like that style of tea. Unfortunately, very little
tea of this quality is produced anywhere in the world.
I find Lipton "Connoisseur" and Brooke-Bond "Supreme" to be good,
considering their price of $9-10 per pound. All the single estate
Darjeelings I've purchased are much better and are much more expensive.
I don't like Lipton "Finest" nearly as much. I haven't had Twinings for a
couple of years and I didn't find it a good value for the price. I'd buy
"Connoisseur" or "Supreme" again except nobody in town stocks them any
Maybe you just have a taste for the first flush, like I have a taste for the
The brand-name blends are likely to be a mixture of flushes. They will try
to provide the same taste in every batch in every year. The brands above
most certainly are not straight first-flush tea.
It's a very wide category. For harvest time, there is first-flush,
in-between, second-flush, and autumnal. For processing, there is white,
oolong, black, and maybe green Darjeeling. For packaging, there is
single-estate and blended. There are also differences between the
appearance, aroma, and flavor of the teas from the various estates.
There should be some similarities between any teas that really are from
However, tea is just another crop: It's grown under a variety of weather and
soil conditions, and then harvested, sold, exported, shipped, repackaged,
and retailed. There will be many smaller or larger differences based on
the "categories" above and of course any categories which I've neglected to
M=E5rten Nilsson schrieb:
I doubt that Twinings Dajeeling is a Dajeeling at all. "Darjeeling" is
not always Darjeeling. The Tea Board of India, the official Indian tea
authority, estimates that up to 40,000 tons a year are sold as
"Darjeeling" worldwide, although the district of Darjeeling only
produces 8,000 to 11,000 tons a year. There seems to be no law to
prevent brands to use the name Darjeeling for teas. Therefore, *real*
Darjeeling has the Tea Board of India's the license number and the Tea
Board of India's Darjeeling seal of authenticity on the package!
Go to a local or even internet tea shop and look for real darjeeling.
The varity of types, tastes and also quality is huge (from fruity to
nutty, from average but decent every day quality to fine distinctively
invigorating aroma for very special occasions). But cheap? Darjeeling?
No. And maybe you don't like the quite characteristic Drajeeling "basic
taste" at all -- esp. tea with milk drinkers are often not very fond of
My tip: start with an Inbetween! They are cheaper than 1st or 2nd
flushs, have a fresh fruity-ish 1st flush like taste but are a bit
smoother, therefore not very distinctive and less aromatic as good 1st
flushs and not as flavoury as the 1st and 2nd flush but also less
pungent (what you have esp. in 1st flushs). Good Inbetweens have a
decent every day quality still with a very typical Darjeeling taste and
Darjeeling characteristics. I would recommend it as a nice try for a
real Darjeeling start.
Darjeeling is probably my favorite tea, and I buy a lot of it over the
course of a year. But as others have said, unless you buy "estate" grown
tea you're likely to get plonk.
I suggest you try to find second flush tea from estates like Makaibari ,
Margaret's Hope, Jungpana, Arya and Puttabong. Makaibari , in particular
produces wonderful tea - I've bought them for years and never had a bad one.
I'm guessing you live in Sweden from your domain; look for online vendors in
Germany - they get some of the best Darjeeling on the market. If after
trying Makaibari you still don't like it then you just don't like
I have been a fan of Darjeelings for years. The brands you mentioned
offer blended, rather bland teas for the mass market. You could try A.
C=2E Perchs Teehandel (www.perchs.dk) in Copenhagen. Henning Ravn and his
wife Annelise run a classic old European teashop that can supply you
with authentic, quality Darjeeling teas. The site is in Danish, German
and English. I can't guarantee you will like Darjeeling tea but what
you get from him will be authentic. You can judge from there.
First Flush Darjeelings tend to be floral, aromatic, light bodied and
piquant/astringent. The Second Flush teas have darker colored liquor,
are a bit sweeter and have a more pronounced and deeper 'muscatel
grape' overtone. For those not experienced with Darjeeling teas I would
suggest Second Flush or Autumnal (less pronounced flavor). If they are
too astringent for you you can try using 180 degree water. I hope this
Sorry to make this quest a bit more arduous, but it really is possible
to get insipid tea under the Makaibari label. The Makaibari I bought
in a grocery store in a prosperous neighborhood in Calcutta late last
winter, with no flush or year information on the package, had nothing
that was unmistakably Darjeeling about it. It's quite possible,
though, that Makaibari keeps tea like this from the export market.
Lew Perin / email@example.com
Well, you're right: I've never bought Makaibari tea from any but (as far as
I can tell) reputable online vendors like Upton. Who knows if the tea you
bought even came from Makaibari or used a counterfeit label? I have heard
from several individuals who live or have lived in India that the very best
Darjeeling is exported because the estates can command a price that most of
the domestic market will or cannot pay. Perhaps you're right though, that
even estates like Makaibari may produce tea for the domestic market that
would never make it for export.
FWIW, here is a totally unsolicited plug (I have no commercial interest in
this) for silvertips online store, that specializes in Makaibari (the owner
of the store claims to be related to the owner of the estate !). I have had
good experience with them and the price is also good.
You must have tried the powered bag ones or the loose leaf one which is why that
is the case.
Even loose leaf ones come in bad shape.
Darjeeling Teas are the best Teas in the world.
You weren't lucky enough to get the best deal.