• HOME >
  • Tea Processing

The tealeaves of Darjeeling 1st flush is green in colour, despite this tea is categorized as black tea. I would like to explain the reason why.

 

Only the first flush has green leaves

There are 3 types tea produced in Darjeeling (India): Spring tea, the1st flush (March-April), 2nd flush ( May-June) and Autumnal tea (September – November). The color of 2nd flush Darjeeling and Autumnal Darjeeling are in orange-brown. These two types of tea literally look like a “black tea”. On the contrary, the leaves’ colour of Darjeeling 1st flush is green and its liquor colour is creamy yellow.

The liquor of Darjeeling first flush

 

They made Darjeeling 1st flush GREEN in purpose

Some people say that Darjeeling 1st flush is green because it has less polyphenol and this is the character of a spring tea. However, this saying is not true. In China, there are many premium quality black tea which are plucked and produced throughout March and April. They are all in orange-brown color and rich in theaflavin. When tea is rich in theaflavin, we could tell by observing a golden ring formed inside the cup when tea is served.

So, why is Darjeeling 1st flush GREEN? We asked this question to the tea manufacturers, and they confirmed that they intentionally wanted to make Darjeeling 1st flush look green. Actually, Darjeeling 1st flush tea could be made into orange-brown colour if the manufacturers allow the tea to have sufficient fermentation. They purposely reduce its fermentation level so that it looks green and fresh. Darjeeling Autumnal tea could also be processed into green colour if the manufacturer wanted to do so.

darjeeling autumnal

Brewed tea leaf of Darjeeling autumnal tea

 

Once upon a time, Darjeeling 1st flush was not green

According to the manufacturer, in the old days the color of first flush tea used to be similar to autumnal tea. It became so green nowadays due to market demand. The main buyers of Darjeeling 1st flush are from Japan, demands in Japan market played an important role in influencing the fermentation level of Darjeeling 1st flush. For now, all the tea gardens in Darjeeling process lighter fermented 1st flush tea, that is why all the 1st flush tea we see in market are in green colour.

 

The reason why the 1st flush tea is green

There is a little secret in the process of making a Darjeeling 1st flush.

 

Due to its long withering period, the moisture level in tealeaves reduced and resulted a slow fermentation to take place

The withering process is the key process for making a black tea. Withering is a process where tealeaves were spread evenly over a perforated plate or bamboo tray and gradually reduced its moisture content .The objective of withering it to enable rolling process to be carried on easily. With lower moisture content inside the leaf, its texture gets softer and more elastic. Once the leaves have less moisture content, it takes a longer time for the leaves to ferment (after the rolling process) as it became harder to activate the oxidation of enzyme inside the tealeaves. It is just like a dehydrated apple can hardly change into brown colour, even if it is cut in half and exposed to the air.

withering process for darjeeling tea

Withering process for Darjeeling tea

 

less fermentation

The fermentation process is carried out after rolling process. Tealeaves were spread over a stainless steel tray and left alone for some time. Usually the time spent for the fermentation of 1st flush is shorter than autumnal tea. The 1st flush leaves hardly turn brown due to lower moisture level, even if its fermentation time was as long as autumnal tea’s.

 

Darjeeling 1st flush withering process is same as Oolong tea processing

The primary objective of withering is to naturally activate the oxidation of enzymes by using dehydration method. As a result, tealeaves produced from withering give a very sweet floral flavor. In fact, Oolong tea was made in the same way. We met a few tea estate managers in Darjeeling who dare to say that Darjeeling first flush is a type of “Oolong tea”. In any case, Darjeeling 1st flush is a semi-fermented tea. It is too green to be listed as black tea. The major difference between Darjeeling 1st flush and Oolong tea is the sequence of its process.

 

Oolong Tea Process

Withering(Fermentation) → Heating(Inactivate Enzyme)  → Rolling→ Drying

 

Black Tea Process

Withering → Rolling → Fermentation → Heating(Inactivate Enzyme)→ Drying

 

For making Oolong tea, the tealeaves were heated right after the withering process in order to stop the enzymatic activity. As for the Darjeeling 1st flush, tealeaves were not heated after withering process. In stead, rolling process will be carried out and subsequently tealeaves were fermented on the tray by themselves.

rolling process of darjeeling tea

Rolling process of Darjeeling Tea

Taiwan Oolong tea which gives very refreshing ‘green tea’-like flavor are produced from skill laboured withering process. As soon as withered tealeaves start producing a desired flavor, then they will be heated immediately to stop further oxidation of the enzyme. As for Darjeeling 1st flush, tealeaves are not heated after the withering process. It subsequently rolled and fermented right after the withering process. Due to the fermentation process after withering and rolling, its flavor becomes a little thicker and smoother (more matured).

The future development of Darjeeling 1st flush

The identical floral flavor of Dajeeling 1st flush was produced during withering process. The dehydration of leaves triggers the oxidation of enzyme. What if tealeaves were heated right away to stop the enzymatic oxidation? This perhaps could create a hybrid tea that has a mixed character between a green tea and Oolong. I am not hoping for such hybrid tea to be made from Darjeeling. But there is a chance that such tea will be produced in future.

Related Articles

How to get the latest update on HOJO Tea?

1. Follow Twitter, 2. Click "Like" on Facebook, and 3. Subscribe in newsletter. You can have the latest tea news from HOJO Tea.

Subscribe the Newsletter to enjoy the privileges
You may receive a free sample upon purchase, or you may have the priority to purchase special products. So please remember to subscribe our newsletter as well as the social network.
  •                 

HOJO TEA Online Shop NEWSlist

Taiping Houkui 2019 is now available in our store
2019 Taiping Houkui is available in our store. Taiping Houkui was listed as the Top Ten Famous Teas in China. It has been the well-known green tea of Anhui province since Qin dynasty. We have both standard and special tribute grade. The special tribute grade was grown at higher altitude and it gives longer lasting …
2019 Chinese Green Teas are available in our store
We have now received three types of 2019 Chinese green tea and one yellow tea. Thanks to less rain in this spring, the quality of these teas is excellent. Shi Feng Long Jing 獅峰龍井茶 Long Jing is the well-known Chinese green tea. It is produced in Zhejiang Province. In particular, Shi Feng Long Jing produced …

NEW ARTICLES

Taiping Houkui 2019 is now available in our store
2019 Taiping Houkui is available in our store. Taiping Houkui was listed as the Top Ten Famous Teas in China. It has been the well-known green tea of Anhui province since Qin dynasty. We have both standard and special tribute grade. The special tribute grade was grown at higher altitude and it gives longer lasting …
2019 Chinese Green Teas are available in our store
We have now received three types of 2019 Chinese green tea and one yellow tea. Thanks to less rain in this spring, the quality of these teas is excellent. Shi Feng Long Jing 獅峰龍井茶 Long Jing is the well-known Chinese green tea. It is produced in Zhejiang Province. In particular, Shi Feng Long Jing produced …
Pre-Booking of Da Xue Shan Wild Tea and White Tea Mao-Cha 2019
We open the pre-booking of Da Xue Shan Wild Raw Pu-erh Tea and Wild White tea in loose form (mao cha). This year we have very limited stock of loose tea. We will close the booking once the quantity of order reaches our quota. Tea is arriving soon in Japan. So, we should be able …
The Field Report of Yunnan Tea in 2019
We have been staying in Yunnan since 9th of April for sourcing spring tea. In previous years, we usually came here before the end of March. This year, we shifted our schedule about 10 days later since we wanted to stay here until the end of spring tea season. This past week, we were engaged …
Limited Release of Rare Single Tree Pu-erh, White and Black Tea
We have opened the sales of Single Tree Tea (Dan Zhu Tea) produced in 2018 spring. Single Tree Tea refers to the selected tea produced only from one particular tea tree. It is considered as the most exclusive quality of all. For oversea customer, please visit the following page. https://hojotea.com/en/posts-213/ So far in Yunnan, only …
New Release of Vintage Guo Gan Ripe Pu-erh Tea
We released very rare and limited ripe pu-erh tea. It is 9 years vintage ripe pu-erh tea from Guo Gan in Myanmar. It gives distinctive vintage tea flavour with a hint of dry-fruity flavour and herbal-like aroma. Tea grown in Myanmar-China border town Guo Gan is the place in Myanmar facing to Yunnan, China. This …
New Release of High Mountain Purple Black Tea 2018
We have released High Mountain Purple Black Tea 2018. This tea is one of the very popular Yunnan black tea in our line-ups. Since it is a very cold season now in Japan, this tea suite very well. I often enjoy this tea recently. Purple Tea variety gives very special flavour The high mountain purple …
Tsukigase Sencha Processed with Long Withering
We made an interesting green tea with Tsukigase’s spring tea. It is sencha, and we conducted long withering process to enhance its flavour. As a result, it gives a gentle floral scent that reminds me of Taiwan’s lightly fermented oolong tea. After producing tea in spring, in order to further enhance its flavour, we kept …
Cha Tou Brick 250g from Hou Cao Shan is available
We released Huo Cao Shan Cha Tou Brick 2017. This Cha Tou is from the same batch of tea we released earlier on pre-booking. Despite tea was produced about one year ago and not aged for a long time, it already gives very soft, mellow and rich drinking sensation with thick fruity flavour like Chinese …
The Secret of Jasmine Flower for Making Fine Jasmine Tea
Jasmine tea is made from green tea scented with the fresh jasmine flower. The quality of both green tea and jasmine flower is important. Jasmine tea consists of various cultivar and variety. The type of jasmine and the timing of plucking greatly affects the quality of jasmine tea. Heng Xian County of Guangxi is the …

PAGETOP