Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?


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Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby needaTEAcher » Nov 29th, '11, 09:07

Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby chado.my.teaway » Nov 29th, '11, 10:46

Darjeeling is a region of India. Most teas coming from there to the black tea. A significant minority of the white and green.
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby Chip » Nov 29th, '11, 11:00

I believe the OP is referring to the oft mentioned debate as to whether the so called black teas are indeed fully oxidized black or are they in reality partially oxidized oolong :?: :!: :?:

Lending credence to the oolong side is the fact that FF tend to favor a slightly cooler brewing ... plus the appearance of most Darjeeling "blacks" are not typical for black tea ... often with greenish leaves.

Ask each vendor this question, and you will likely get a different answer each time.

When I conduct a poll for "tea of the month" I often create a seperate "type" for Darjeeling since it does not fit neatly in with blacks nor oolongs.

So, I just sit on the fence and watcha and listen to the debate ... choosing not to get hung up on this one.
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby needaTEAcher » Nov 29th, '11, 11:01

Sorry, chado, I should have posted the question in a more full way to start.

These things I know, but I recently read that THE Darjeeling tea, traditionally called black (or red, depending on the source) is actually only oxidized to about 90%, which would make it oolong, right?

I mean, the leaves look to me like a mix of fully oxidized (brown/black) partially oxidized (brown), and even some non-oxidized (green)? Thoughts?

I have had white and green tea from the region, though not the oolongs. I just want to know if others have come across this kind of info. It was actually my fiance who was reading up on Darjeeling on wikidpedia who brought this to my attention. I immediately dismissed her, :oops: because OF COURSE Darjeeling is a black tea :oops: , fully oxidized, but then I started looking and down the rabbit hole I went.

Help?
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby needaTEAcher » Nov 29th, '11, 11:05

Go Chip, sneaking in while I was posting that reply.

That makes the most sense to me, as it fits with the whole "10-Tasters-11-Opinions" rule of tea.

Are any teas then fully oxidized? Things I thought I knew are not true, and my whole world is falling apart!

But seriously. are any teas then 100% oxidized? Chip, what is FF? Please forgive my inexperience here!
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby Chip » Nov 29th, '11, 12:23

FF is first flush.

Yes, I have seen more "old fashioned" (so the vendors sometimes say) Darjeelings that appeared 100% oxidized. Very dark brownish.

But is appearance deceiving?

Some say that all black Darjeelings are truly black, they are fully oxidized ... and it is the elevation that causes the more greenish appearance.

But like we said ... ask 10 people and you will get 10 ... or more answers.

Since I choose to not worry about it, I can sleep at night. :mrgreen:
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby Tead Off » Nov 30th, '11, 00:57

needaTEAcher wrote:Go Chip, sneaking in while I was posting that reply.

That makes the most sense to me, as it fits with the whole "10-Tasters-11-Opinions" rule of tea.

Are any teas then fully oxidized? Things I thought I knew are not true, and my whole world is falling apart!

But seriously. are any teas then 100% oxidized? Chip, what is FF? Please forgive my inexperience here!

Having your whole world fall apart is the beginning of wisdom. :D

If you think you're confused now, wait till you go to Darjeeling. :lol:

I strongly suggest you save up your money and visit a shop called Darjeeling Tea Corner which is located on the Chowrasta, which is a small plaza and epicenter of Darjeeling. It is a shop which sells Mim's teas, imo, the best grower selling whole leaf teas and organic. Every purchase of mine has withstood the test of time and mood. They are generally more expensive than other teas but the quality is a cut above.
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby needaTEAcher » Nov 30th, '11, 01:30

Thanks Tead. I will definitely check it out. That is exactly the kind of tip I've been looking for!
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby mWin » Nov 30th, '11, 15:02

This made me think of a question that I had a couple weeks ago.

If Darjeeling is considered a black tea (or oolong), why does Adagio list Casablanca Twist as a green tea?
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby Chip » Nov 30th, '11, 15:37

mWin wrote:This made me think of a question that I had a couple weeks ago.

If Darjeeling is considered a black tea (or oolong), why does Adagio list Casablanca Twist as a green tea?

... good question. Unless they use a FF green Darjeeling ...
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby mWin » Dec 1st, '11, 00:41

Chip wrote:
mWin wrote:This made me think of a question that I had a couple weeks ago.

If Darjeeling is considered a black tea (or oolong), why does Adagio list Casablanca Twist as a green tea?

... good question. Unless they use a FF green Darjeeling ...


I'm assuming you are referring to this from the description: "We kept the latter, and replaced the smoky notes of Gunpowder with the muscatel highlights of a First Flush Darjeeling from India."

What does First Flush mean?
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby Chip » Dec 1st, '11, 00:59

First flush is also called first harvest. The first flush of leaves of Spring are harvested to create a very much on demand first harvest. FF is often the most in demand tea regardless of the country.
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby needaTEAcher » Dec 1st, '11, 02:06

I will be there next year for the First Flush!!!!! Woot woot!!!!! :lol:
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby AlexZorach » Dec 1st, '11, 16:36

This thread, and this whole debate / subject is one that I find absolutely fascinating.

There is no universal agreed-upon definition of the different classes of tea. For example, recently on my blog I raised some questions about how to classify white teas. Black tea and green tea tend to be a bit more clear-cut, but as your question about Darjeeling suggests, it's complex.

Classifying something as oolong is actually troublesome. It is true that oolong is a semi-oxidized tea, at least usually (some green oolongs are barely oxidized at all though, and other oolongs are so oxidized that they are effectively fully oxidized). But there is no clear consensus that all semi-oxidized tea is oolong. Oolong tends to be used more specifically, to refer to a certain type of tea, with a fairly specific, involved production process, that (usually) is semi-oxidized. Semi-oxidized teas can be produced by many different methods that few people have ever suggested are oolong. I like to describe these teas as "oolong-like". This is the text and phrasing that I use on RateTea.net and other sites where I write about these teas.

For example, many white teas (like the examples I give in my blog post) like Shou Mei and even Bai Mu Dan are semi-oxidized, and in fact, all white teas are at least faintly oxidized because the lack of higher heating allows the oxidizing enzymes to persist longer than in green tea (hence why white teas do not have the greener color). And of course, many Darjeelings and other Himalayan teas typically classified as "black tea" are also semi-oxidized. Then there are Pu-erhs, and other hard-to-classify teas like Moonlight White, which is also semi-oxidized. None of these teas are classified as oolong, to my knowledge, by anyone.

I would thus describe lighter Darjeelings and other lighter Himalayan teas, moonlight white, and shou mei as oolong-like, and as semi-oxidized, but I would not classify them as oolongs. But I'm open to these classifications changing over time, both as I learn more, and as the landscape of tea culture shifts and changes. As semi-oxidized teas become more prevalent, it may make sense to coin a new term too or a new category, or to some day broaden the definition of oolong.
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Re: Is Darjeeling a black tea or an oolong?

Postby AlexZorach » Dec 1st, '11, 16:42

By the way, there are also Darjeeling oolongs, which are teas produced according to oolong-like production processes, in the Darjeeling district.

Some of them are quite bizarre, and I'm not exactly a fan of them as a whole. I find they also tend to be quite difficult to brew well. But I would recommend trying some if you get the opportunity. I've tried one (from Soureni estate) that really impressed me, and even if you don't end up liking them, they'll certainly broaden your palate. Most of the Darjeeling oolongs that I've tried have been among the most unique and fascinating teas that I've ever sampled -- both the ones I liked more and the ones I liked less.

I also think that once you've tried a number of Darjeeling oolongs (I've tried 5 as of now) you will get a sense of what distinguishes an oolong from a semi-oxidized tea, as you'll be able to separate out the influence of region and other peculiarities of Darjeeling tea from the influences of production process on flavor. There is definitely a commonality between Darjeeling oolongs that is completely unlike the semi-oxidized Darjeeling black teas. To give one example, I think nearly any Darjeeling black tea comes out okay (palatable) if brewed with boiling water. Darjeeling oolongs, on the other hand, are often undrinkable (to me) if brewed with boiling water. This distinction even holds true for comparing some darker-looking Darjeeling oolongs with lighter-looking first flush Darjeeling black teas.
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