Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.
I'm not so hung up on classifying and naming various teas to fit in a box. In the case of Darjeelings, whether they are called oolongs, greens, whites, or, blacks, there is a commonality to the teas that separate them from let's say Japanese greens, oolongs, etc. There is this fruitiness that can be complex that I've only experienced in Indian teas. Even in Nilgiri, you find this ambrosial flavor and aroma which is very different from let's say the fruitiness of Taiwan high mountain oolongs. You always know you are drinking an Indian tea but with different nuances. This is very similar in the sense that when you drink a Japanese sencha, you always know you are drinking a sencha even though there are many different nuances in the flavor.
Darjeeling is only partially oxidized, but the process used in getting it there is very different than standard oolong production. Unlike (say) Assam, Darjeeling is not going after the British/Indian flavor profile. Darjeeling teas are mostly exported to Germany and Japan. I would say that when trying to place Darjeeling on a tea spectrum, they are more like an oolong than other Indian teas, but not actually made the same way.
Dec 8th 11 6:21 am
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Where does that info come from? I would like to learn more about that, and more about how the targeted demographic affects how the tea is made. Thanks!mbanu wrote:Unlike (say) Assam, Darjeeling is not going after the British/Indian flavor profile. Darjeeling teas are mostly exported to Germany and Japan.
Here is an explanation that tea packer Michael Harney of Harney & Sons gives for how Darjeeling transitioned from making British-style teas to German-friendly modern Darjeelings in the late 1960s. Why it happened I'm not certain, although the British tea industry was in a period of change in the late 60s. I'm not sure how Japan became interested in Darjeeling teas, but they are now the other major buyers of high-end Darjeeling. The Japanese have been interested in Darjeeling since at least 1977, when they were the main buyers behind the USSR (who had to buy bulk tea from India as part of a trade agreement between the two countries at the time), and West Germany. (This information I got from the 1977 "Techno-economic survey of Darjeeling tea industry" monograph) In 1974, Seeniappan Manoharan wrote a book on Indian tea where he expressed basically the same view, that if the USSR were to stop buying Darjeeling tea, West Germany and Japan would snatch up the market.