First Flush vs Second or Autumnal Darjeeling

Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.

First Flush vs Second or Autumnal Darjeeling

Postby Victoria » Apr 14th, '10, 15:21

First Flush vs Second or Autumnal Darjeeling

For those who may not know and those wondering what is the deal with First Flush Darjeeling and how they differ, I thought I would post this explanation. I was asked by another member and started thinking maybe others out there are wondering the same thing. As the new First Flush Darjeeling are beginning to appear there will be more and more talk of them. And I for one, am getting very excited to find what will be the best of the offerings this Spring.

FIRST FLUSH Darjeelings are greener with a crisp taste and a "bite" of astringency. The dry leaf has a green, fresh aroma and usually has light green coloring mixed in. They typically brew up a mid-range gold to a mid-range amber in color.

SECOND FLUSH and autumnal teas are more mellow with a smooth taste and very little astringency. The leaf smells more fruity than green and the color is deeper brown. They tend to brew up darker; from a mid amber to the deeper shades of brown.

Before you make a commitment - for someone just starting out - first you need to figure out, just as with oolong, which camp you are in. Not that you can't enjoy both, some do, but most do have a preference. I'd hate to see anyone buy a parcel from India only to discover they don't care for the astringency of the First Flush teas. (Or go ahead, then just send them all to me :) )

I would suggest you buy Adagio Darjeeling #1 and #22 and compare.

You may find if you love oolongs that these Spring Darjeeling have some of the same characteristics of an oolong. Those of you who prefer a mellow black cup, may tend not to like the bite of a First Flush, opting for the smoother flavor profile of the Second Flush as they fall more in line with a typical black tea flavor profile.

Now on to buying - where to buy? Many people buy direct from India via an Indian vendor such as Tea Emporium or Lochan Teas. Both excellent vendors by the way. But it is expensive and I don't think necessary at all. The FF are just starting to trickle into the mass markets. Let your online vendor absorb the shipping costs, it may be cheaper in the long run and you can buy less quantity and try more teas.

The among moderate places to buy with many choices will be SpecialTeas, TeaSource, TeaGschwendner and don't forget Adagio. Adagio has hinted at a premium Darjeeling Estate series, an addition to the new Maestro line. Exciting news!

Last edited by Victoria on Apr 14th, '10, 17:30, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First Flush vs Second or Autumnal Darjeeling

Postby entropyembrace » Apr 14th, '10, 16:45

Good explanation of the differences between 1st and 2nd flush Darjeeling, Victoria :)

I´d like to add that the Second and Autumnal flushes are distinct from each other...the Autumn flush has a lighter body and is more aromatic than the 2nd flush.

There is also a monsoon harvest between the 2nd and Autumnal flushes but it´s generally not considered high quality and is used mainly for blends.
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Re: First Flush vs Second or Autumnal Darjeeling

Postby Victoria » Apr 14th, '10, 17:23

Thanks for the clarification on the 2nd and Autumnal flushes.
Since they are not really my thing! I know lots of people love them
and I welcome discussion!
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Re: First Flush vs Second or Autumnal Darjeeling

Postby Chip » Apr 14th, '10, 18:44

Interesting topic, thanks for sharing.

IMHO and in hoping to not overly generalize, I have often found FF to have more a floral and lighter character, a bit more picky to brew.

While 2nds can be much fuller and fruity and easier to brew.

But there is a big grey area between the two. Floral and fruity can be interchanged or both can often be present, etc.

Autumnal often reminded me of Ceylon, can be fuller but less high points than the other 2 flushes and the easiest to brew.

And the so called in between flush, well, I just never knew what to make of that ... :mrgreen:
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Re: First Flush vs Second or Autumnal Darjeeling

Postby geeber1 » Apr 14th, '10, 22:05

Thanks for posting this, Victoria!
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Re: First Flush vs Second or Autumnal Darjeeling

Postby murrius » Apr 14th, '10, 22:31

Yes, I taste the floral notes that Chip refers to as distinctive of first flush darjeeling as well. I think that they have more in common with the taste of some lightly oxidized oolong that later harvests of darjeeling.

I'm in my glory right now as I look forward to ff darjeeling all winter and have three at home to pick from right now.
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Re: First Flush vs Second or Autumnal Darjeeling

Postby kymidwife » Apr 15th, '10, 03:49

I get the floral... the green-ness, and the "bite" in the usual description of FF Darjeeling. I get something else... maybe it is umami, I don't know... but my favorite first flush darjeelings have this quality that is rich and savory... my first impression of the first one I ever tried was "meaty". I enjoy 2nd flush and autumnal flush, but that fresh FF taste is perhaps my favorite of all teas.

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Re: First Flush vs Second or Autumnal Darjeeling

Postby ClarG » Jan 18th, '14, 16:54

This is an old topic but I found these links which may be helpful to people.

Info about first flush Darjeeling tea: ... eling-tea/

Info about Second flush Darjeeling tea: ... eling-tea/

Info about Autumn/3rd flush Darjeeling tea ... eling-tea/
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