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!.