A cup of tea is lot more than what we think it is. It is a magical and mysterious drink that produces an extraordinary sense of enjoyment, relaxation and attentiveness – a drink treasured by emperors, warriors, poets, holy men and revolutionaries, as well as all the unsung heroes of everyday life.
For nearly 5,000 years this fascinating plant has been a source of medicine, meditation, adventure, congregation, and creative expression. Globally, tea is second only to water as the most consumed beverage.
According to legend, Emperor Shen Nung, the father of agriculture and traditional medicine in China, made the fortuitous discovery.
Tea was being commercially produced in India since 1820 B.C. Now India has emerged as one of the largest producer of Teas worldwide, producing some of the finest and premium quality teas, among which Darjeeling and Assam Teas have been accepted as the most desired brands.
The cured leaves of Camellia Sinensis have quite a few healthy aspects as well. Their high antioxidant value prevents cell damage and consequent health problems like blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, helps in lowering cholesterol, controlling diabetis, reducing body fat and act as a stress buster and mood lifter.
Darjeeling tea and the flushes
Darjeeling tea is the variety universally considered as the Champagne of Teas. They differ in taste and fragrance, as per the flushes. The first flush tea is light and clear with bright liquor, floral scent and a lively character as it consists of two new tender leaves and a bud being plucked between mid March to May. This high priced and mostly rewarded variety is often compared with champagne, by Tea Gourmets.
The second flush tea has a darker colour and strong muscatel flavour due to the combination of unique weather, topography and plant types. The tea leaves are mature and larger with purplish bloom and fruity taste, being plucked between June – Mid August.
The third flush tea, commonly known as Autumnal Tea, yields between October- November, is dark or coppery in colour and texture and is full bodied, but has a lighter flavour.
Consisting of four varieties, White, Green, Oolong and Black Darjeeling Tea is eminent for its exclusive muscatel flavour.
Black, Green, Oolong and White tea
Black tea is the 100 percent oxidized variation which passes through all stages of orthodox processing like withering, rolling, fermenting and machine drying etc. These tea leaves are dried up and split up in order to absorb oxygen. Having a tannin, malt chocolate and earthy aromas and robust flavour it could be paired with full-flavoured foods such as meat and spicy dishes or creamy desserts like pastries.
Oolong tea is semi oxidized which places it mid-way between Green and Black Teas. This gives it the texture and complexity of a Black Tea well as the brightness and freshness of Green Tea with aromas like honey, wood , butter, vanilla or coconut .The greener oolongs tend to go well with scallops, lobster and other sweet rich foods, while darker oolongs compliment somewhat stronger-flavoured foods such as duck and grilled meats.
Green Tea is steamed, rolled and dried but not fermented. The bypassing of oxidation allows it to retain its natural beneficial chemicals like Tannins, Vitamin C, Chlorophyll etc which make green tea more astringent and subtler than Oolong and Black Tea. The lack of oxidation is also responsible for the very low caffeine content in green tea (only 1%) which makes it a perfect health drink acting as a mild stimulant, without causing insomnia or nervousness.
White Tea is the most expensive and delicate variety among all. Handpicked from Camellia Sinensis bushes that have large, fleshy leaf buds, the leaves are hand rolled and dried in sun which retains a silky downy quality in leaves. Among all the teas, White Tea is the least processed which gives it a delicate and subtle flavour. The name “White Tea” is derived from the fine white hairs that cover the young tea buds, which are harvested along with the tea plant’s leaves, before they fully open. This minimal processing and low oxidation results in some of the most delicate and freshest of teas available. White teas are characterized by delicate flavours, a smooth mouth feel, and a subtly fruity, sweet aftertaste.
The multifaceted Darjeeling tea is actually so versatile in character that it could be paired with any food or dessert, says Sailesh Sarda, the 4th generation owner of Nathmulls Tea Darjeeling.
After successfully hosting the Nathmulls Sunset Lounge, an exclusive Tea Bar in Darjeeling, Sailesh initiated the journey of a Tea Room, The Whistling Kettle, with a motto to indulge the Tea loving people of Kolkata to get acquainted with the endearing taste and exotic flavour of Darjeeling Teas along with their health benefits.
Sailesh has also added something nostalgic to serve with his unique Teas, in the form of platters, served at the heritage Keventers at Darjeeling and sourced from them.
Now you can get a true feel of ‘‘Darjeeling in Kolkata’’ by indulging yourselves at The Whistling Kettle.
The article has been written by Sailesh Sarda,the Proprietor of The Whistling Kettle....