Organic Darjeeling Makaibari Estate 1st Flush Black Tea

Bright, lemony infusion with punchy astringency and classic first flush character

fair trade certified certified organic
Organic Darjeeling Makaibari Estate 1st Flush Black Tea
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Organic Darjeeling Makaibari Estate 1st Flush Black Tea


This organic loose tea from the first flush harvest is biodynamically farmed at the Makaibari estate in India's Darjeeling district. Established in 1859, Makaibari is the oldest estate in Darjeeling, where a strong commitment to sustainable farming prevails. This Fair Trade Certified organic Indian tea is made from the celebrated first harvest of early Spring, called the "first flush." Its distinctive citrusy cup has a fragrance all its own, with nuances of green and black tea.

Our First Flush Darjeeling delivers a vibrant infusion with lively astringency and classic first flush character. The luminous amber-colored liquor features a thicker mouthfeel than previous first flush production years, and offers notes of dried orange rind, lime zest and Muscat grape with an enticing aroma reminiscent of orange blossom. To fully appreciate the delicate high notes, we recommend infusing first flush Darjeeling organic black tea with a slightly lower water temperature and shorter steeping time than that of other black teas.

Ingredients: organic and Fair Trade Certified Indian black tea

Origin: Makaibari Estate, Darjeeling, India


Located in eastern India, Darjeeling is nestled at the foothills of the Himalayas and tucked between Bhutan and Nepal. It is one of the most famous regions in the world for tea production, and has a long history of tea cultivation dating back to the early 1800s. Black teas are the most traditional types of tea from this area, but more recently white, green and oolong teas have been manufactured. Darjeeling’s highland subtropical climate and elevation (6000 feet above sea level) make it ideal for growing tea. Makaibari Tea Estate was founded in 1859, and is the oldest and steepest estate in Darjeeling. Makaibari is a biodynamic and organic certified tea garden and follows a form of “integrated forest management.” They also use permaculture in many of their practices. Certified Fair Trade in 1993, Makaibari has used their premiums to provide stipends for University studies, microfinance programs, education investments and health training, among many other initiatives.

Read our field notes from our visit to Makaibari!

Steeping Instructions


At Arbor Teas, we believe tea should be brewed to suit your personal taste. We’re happy to make recommendations to get you started, but don’t hesitate to experiment! When brewing your tea, your main considerations are tea quantity, water temperature, and steeping time. Brewing our First Flush Darjeeling like any other black tea can produce a fantastic cup, no doubt, but because this tea behaves more like a green tea, we recommend steeping it at a lower temperature (approximately 170 to 180 degrees F) for only 2-3 minutes to avoid excess astringency. For the best flavor, use fresh water whenever possible, and avoid overboiling. Try not to steep your tea longer than necessary, as you’ll extract undesirable bitterness from the leaves. If you want a stronger brew, don’t steep longer, just use more tea. And don’t forget to re-steep your tea leaves to get the most out of your leaf!

Looking for more info? Check out our How-To Guides and Eco-Brewing Tips!

Staff Perspectives

  • Lea

    "I love when we open this bag for the first time, the enchanting aroma of spring in Makaibari is palpable. "

  • Trish

    "This is lighter and more floral than our 2nd flush, and I think it's a bit stronger."

  • Aubrey

    "Light and VERY dry - if there were bubbles, you'd practically have champagne!"

Health Benefits


Like all true tea, black tea offers many potential health benefits. Research has found that tea (Camellia sinensis) can have many positive effects on human health, including improved cardiovascular function, cancer risk reduction, improved immune function, improved oral health, and help with weight management. Tea is also full of polyphenols, which are a class of antioxidant that help your body maintain homeostasis and balance your stress levels. Black tea specifically has been found to regulate blood sugar in diabetics better than other types of tea, according to a study done by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

For more information about the health benefits of black tea and other types of tea, and for direct sources of the above information, check out our Tea Health Benefits page!

Please note: the information above is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Customer Reviews

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  • 4
    winner of a 1st flush taste test

    Posted by Skye on 28th Dec 2022

    My friend and I are both new to the more sophisticated aspects of tea drinking and we've been doing tea tastings together. I really liked the sample of this 1st flush Darjeeling but I wanted to see how it compared to other 1st flush Darjeelings. We did a taste test of all the 1st flush Darjeelings on offer through Camellia Sinensis's website and this 1st flush and this was the winner! Of course, that's only one company so I'll probably do more taste tests down the road. Hopefully, along the way I'll learn more about different types of teas, which is the real reason for all these taste tests. This isn't a tea I think I'll drink every single day but it's one I really enjoy drinking for a treat. Maybe on a lazy Sunday when I can take my time and enjoy my brew.

  • 3
    Good Darjeeling

    Posted by McKinley L. on 4th Jan 2017

    This is the first "first flush" Darjeeling I've ever had. I enjoyed it and it was very true to style, at least based upon the other few Darjeelings that I've had. I wasn't blown away, but then again, I rarely drink Darjeelings or black tea in general, so I'm not sure that I was expecting to be. It's fairly smooth, with some mild fruity, floral, and earthy flavors released over a few steeps. Much lighter than normal black teas but with some of the more earthy or malty qualities I don't get from a lot of green tea. The leaves were almost entirely broken into bits and segments, which I wasn't expecting, though I don't think that negatively affected the taste.

  • 4
    Thumbs up!

    Posted by Kara on 3rd Jun 2016

    The first flush darjeeling brews like it's almost a green tea, only yellower in color. It has a citrusy, almost dry-like flavor profile to it, which I can now understand why darjeeling is called the "champagne of teas." Definitely a good-quality darjeeling to be found here.

  • 5
    No category for this one

    Posted by Benjamin Hartwick on 2nd Apr 2015

    Is it really a black tea? Maybe technically, but it’s not green either, is comparable only to its cousin, the 2nd flush Darjeeling, and it has a fragrance I simply cannot pin down. The closest I can come is “floral,” but there is also something in it that hints at some sort of evergreen, but not pine needles, something else. When brewed, it has the most golden color of any tea I have yet seen. In fact, I would say that has the most appealing color of any tea I have ever brewed. Just looking at it’s color is uplifting. It is not dissimilar to its cousin, the 2nd flush Darjeeling, but it does not evoke the rich mulch of a forest floor the way the 2nd flush does. I guess I would say it tastes younger, more “sprout-like” (sproutier?) if that makes sense. It’s more vibrant but also less complex even though it remains for me one of the most complex teas I regularly drink. It’s bright, cheery and uplifting with a definite citrus tone. I like both the 1st and 2nd flush -- they compliment each other -- but if push came to shove, I would choose the 2nd flush, which is on the blacker end of the spectrum than this tea. Having said that, if I could never have the 2nd flush and could only have this, it would still satisfy my love of Darjeeling, but the experience would be less intoxicating.

  • 5
    subtle taste

    Posted by Steve on 21st Jun 2012

    As other reviewers noted, the key is to follow the brewing directions; a bit lower water temperature and a shorter brew time produce a delicate tea that is well worth cost (and a true value at the coupon-reduced price). I look forward to next year's crop.

  • 4
    deliciously floral

    Posted by Unknown on 13th Feb 2012

    it has refreshing, light floral flavor that is terrific for a late afternoon. the lack of bitterness makes it very easy to drink. a good 'relaxing' cup of tea.

  • 4
    First flush

    Posted by Alan Babbitt on 26th Apr 2009

    I brewed the Makaibari Darjeeling 1st flush in the same way I brew most tea which is Gongfu style using a small clay pot and a short steeping time. I used 7 grams (about 2 tablespoons of this tea) in 200ml of water with a first steeping of 30 seconds. The resulting brew was a light golden color much lighter than you might expect for a "black" tea. The predominant aroma is almost exactly like beer wort clean and malty. The flavor is light and clean with all the characteristics of a typical darjeeling but much more delicate and subtle and with almost no astringency. The tea is almost all broken leaves so I was only able to get three steeping out of this before the astringency and bitterness asserted themselves. A very satisfying tea.

  • 4
    brisk and peachy

    Posted by Jason Walker on 31st Mar 2009

    this 1st flush delivered briskness peach tartness and a hint that reminded me of floral wulong - Watch the full video review at

  • 4
    Any way you brew it...

    Posted by Bill Edwards on 7th Nov 2008

    I bought a sample of this and brewed it before reading the suggestion to use a lower temp and shorter brew time. As a result the flavor was not subtle but smokey or toasted. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I did a second brew per instructions and this was more delicate. I sensed flavors that had me say "what is that I am tasting?" I gave up trying to identify it and just enjoyed it. The tea brews to a light bronze color unusual for a black tea.

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