Darjeeling tea also known as the "Champagne of Black Teas" is probably the most exported Indian tea among Japan, Europe, North America and Great Britain. India produces far more of this luxury brand of tea, which is notably known for it’s seasonal harvests and distinct tastes.
The current market of Darjeeling tea represents only 3% of the overall tea production of India. A garden in Darjeeling India generates about 400 lbs. or so of tea for every acre per calendar year. Since the productivity is so small; detailed attention is placed on every single harvest throughout the year. So where is the Darjeeling region of India and why are the teas so renowned? High in the foothills of the spectacular Indian Himalayas, Darjeeling is a region of Western Bengal. The very first documented plantations in Darjeeling date from 1856. Today, the district of Darjeeling on it's own consists of more than 80 tea selections. Only gardens that tend to be recognized by the Darjeeling planters association have the right to market the tea within the international appellation of Darjeeling.
Tea is a seasonal item, which harvests mostly rely upon on the growing conditions of the trees. Environmental factors, such as sunlight, rain and temperatures all play a role on the extending of the shoots and the unfolding of the leaves. The interval between picking is crucial to the survival of the tea tree. Excessive picking can actually endanger the life and health of the tree. If you have ever tasted Darjeeling tea then you'll know that there are variations in color and flavor based on the time of year they were selected. The first cycle of picking takes place is between mid-March and the end of March and concludes around the second week of May. This first harvest yields light teas with intense aromas. The fresh grades of the shoots are enhanced by shorter oxidation times, which contribute to its blossomy aroma and powerful sweet aftertaste. The second harvest takes place from the end of June until mid-July, and it produces a greater volume. The leaves selected during the second harvesting are firmer and require longer oxidation times, which gives them a darker colored liquid and malty fragrance reminiscent of a ripe fruit. The final harvest, the fall harvest, takes place in October and November and has a less delicate flavor, but fuller body and darker color.