Summertime is the time of year where those of us in the tea industry can sit back, take a breath, and take a fresh look at how we’re doing business. Although our beloved customers haven’t been giving us too much time to take a breather (which is just fine with us!), we have been able to hunt down some exciting new teas, and reformulate some of our blends. Perhaps most notably, all of our decaffeinated teas and blends will use teas decaffeinated using a CO2 process instead of a water process (as is currently the case). CO2 decaffeination results in a cup with better flavor and body than water process decaffeinated teas. And as always, our decaffeinated teas will remain organic and Fair Trade Certified!
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The term “First Flush” is a reference to teas made from the first plucking of the newest, youngest growth on the tea bushes at the start of each year’s harvesting season. While this term can be (and periodically is) applied to the first plucking of any tea, the first flush distinction is most often made in the case of teas hailing from the famed Darjeeling district of northeastern India. This is largely done because the flavor and character of early-season teas from Darjeeling differs rather dramatically from those made later.
Tea harvesting in Darjeeling begins in mid- to late-March. But by the time those young little tea leaves are plucked, processed, packed and shipped (typically via boat) it can take a little while before they see their way to the United States. Well, we are happy to say that our first flush Darjeeling from the Makaibari Estate is finally here! This classic afternoon tea (often referred to as the ‘champagne of afternoon teas’) is typically characterized by a light, floral cup with a bright, lemony infusion and punchy astringency. This holds true for the 2008 vintage, however this year’s harvest is a little more mellow, with just a bit less astringency. This may be owed to the slightly larger, less broken-down leaf fragments, but may also be due to other variables such as the weather experienced in Darjeeling this season. Regardless, this very distinctive tea is sure to satisfy longtime first flush Darjeeling fans and newcomers alike!