Are Darjeelings really black teas?

Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.


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Oct 20th, '09, 16:55
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Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by AlexZorach » Oct 20th, '09, 16:55

There are a lot of Darjeelings that are classified as black teas that are very light in color and some have a very large portion of greener leaf. I've found this to be true not only of some of the higher-end first flush Darjeelings, but even occasionally of some broken-leaf and teabag Darjeelings.

For example, I bought a teabag Darjeeling from Jackson's of Piccadilly and it had a substantial portion of greener leaves in it, and brewed a light amber color. I've also found this to be true not just of Darjeelings but other Darjeeling-like teas, such as those from Nepal.

So this begs a bunch of questions...how do you brew these teas? Do you brew them more like an oolong or green tea, or do you use boiling water just like a black tea? Should they really be classified as black teas, especially when many of them are lighter than many oolongs?

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by woozl » Oct 20th, '09, 17:01

They are black tea, as that is how they are processed.
I understand there has been a trend to lighter or greener styles.
FF teas I brew at 190F for 2 or 3 mins.
Try some 2nd flush or autumnal teas, they tend to be more robust.

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Oxidation level varies among harvests, varietals, elevation

by Intuit » Oct 20th, '09, 17:20

Quote from major Darjeeling tea production firm manager:

The Darjeeling 1st flush is light and is less oxidized, comparable to a green tea with copious fresh and exquisite flavor. The second flush teas are fully oxidized and are more robust with a sweet flavor.

http://www.commodityindia.com/news/news ... view042509
http://www.thunderbolttea.com/pages/dar ... ssing.html

Reasonably generic descriptions of Darjeeling tea processing:
http://darjeelingnews.net/tea_processin ... eling.html
http://www.thunderbolttea.com/pages/dar ... ssing.html

The flavor and aroma intensity of these teas grown at elevation in the Himalayan Foothills lend themselves to production of green and white teas, as well as oolongs. There is growing interest in producing specialty teas in Darjeeling, which further muddies the question of their actual oxidation state.

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by Victoria » Oct 20th, '09, 17:21

Well considering I brew green oolongs in boiling water ... boiling water.
They are considered black and should be brewed in boiling water.
Just my opinion of course. Brew how they taste best to you.

I love the FF Darjeeling and the greener ones as they are closer to oolong flavor. Then there is the ultimate - a Darjeeling processed as an oolong. Darjeeling perfection, ahhhhhhhh!!

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by Janine » Oct 20th, '09, 17:23

Victoria wrote: Then there is the ultimate - a Darjeeling processed as an oolong. Darjeeling perfection, ahhhhhhhh!!

I do enjoy that tea when I'm in the mood for it. I have what's called a Singbulli Oolong from ChaMaGuDao. It just hits the spot when I want that combination of bright darjeeling flavor with a hint of peachy oolong. Lovely.

(Hi Victoria!)

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by AdamMY » Oct 20th, '09, 17:38

I think in a historical sense they are considered black teas, but in actual level of oxidation they can be more of a heavily oxidized oolong. But as everyone else has said they are processed very similar to black teas, and with the historical president, I see no reason to try and change it (at least not yet).

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by whiteroses » Nov 25th, '09, 16:51

well, there are Darjeeling white teas and green teas too.

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by AlexZorach » Dec 1st, '09, 17:23

I'm thinking about the Darjeelings that are normally classified as "black teas". Even among the darker ones, I notice that the leaf does not appear (or taste) fully oxidized. I guess it's a technicality...I've resolved this (for the time being) by classifying them all as black teas on my website, and then having the page on first flush mention that they are often less oxidized and more oolong-like in character.

I've tasted Darjeeling green and oolong teas...I *love* the Darjeeling green teas I've tried...and my absolute favorite was retired (it was probably a limited production tea, I don't know the details)...Makaibari Estate Long Leaf Green, from Upton Tea.

Never tried a Darjeeling white tea but I hope to soon.

The two Darjeeling Oolongs I've tried (both from Tindharia Estate) were both very disappointing to me. Both seemed both thin-bodied and weak in aroma, although they were both rich in flavor. I much prefer the first-flush teas I've tried, I even have tried broken-leaf mixed-source Darjeelings that were on the greener side that I enjoyed better than those two oolongs.

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by gingkoseto » Dec 1st, '09, 23:34

That's a good question :D First flush tastes pretty much like oolong to me.

I also wonder if bai hao oolong is really oolong. It seems not far from black tea :D

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by Rainy-Day » Dec 3rd, '09, 23:49

I vote that Darjeelings are not blacks, even 2nd flushes. I don't care how they're processed, the taste is too different. There's as much difference in taste as between an average black and oolong. I think taste is far more important than processing. Also, I'd never dream of brewing a black at 140F but I do brew oolongs at that temp (or slightly higher, 140-155).

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by NOESIS » Dec 29th, '09, 13:18

I steep FF Darjeelings at 195F, and later season teas at 205F. I would just classify them as very finicky black teas.

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by marlena » Dec 31st, '09, 12:30

I tend to brew first flushes as more of a green or Oolong and the 2nd and Autumnal as black

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by Symmetry » Jan 3rd, '10, 17:58

From my (limited) experience, Darjeelings taste quite different from most other black teas. They're sort of like a...green-black hybrid, but not in the same way as Oolongs. I'd put them under Oolong for convenience, though.

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by marlena » Jan 13th, '10, 14:55

I've been drinking Darjeelings for about 20 years and I think they used to be processed more and were therefore heavier and more akin to what we think of as black tea. I just had an autumnal flush that seemed like a first flush from year ago to me. With all the weather problems, it is really hard to judge if the current batch of lightness is weather or process related.

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Re: Are Darjeelings really black teas?

by Chip » Jan 13th, '10, 20:56

marlena wrote:I've been drinking Darjeelings for about 20 years and I think they used to be processed more and were therefore heavier and more akin to what we think of as black tea.
There is a lot of truth to this, they used to appear much more so as a black tea in general.

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