Some doubts about Darjeeling first flushes
I’ve been buying some darkeeling and assam recently and I realized that an 80% of first flushes (maybe more) look like green tea/oolong. Some of them also have silver tips.
The flavour is also like a green tea, floral or grassy in most of them.
I’ve also read that first fluches are produced similar to oolong tea. So, it can be conclude that Darjeeling first flushes are ‘oolongs’ instead of black tea?
Darjeeling black teas look and taste closer to the oolong end of the oxidation scale as compared to other standard black teas.
I’m not an expert on Darjeeling, but can it be due to overall trend of producing greener, “fresher” teas, lighter roasts, etc?
This all comes down to the definitions of black tea and oolong productions. In Darjeeling, what they call black tea does not have the same oxidation as a hongcha or Chinese black tea. The oxidation level itself is much closer to the oxidation of an oolong (which pretty much just encompasses the oxidation range between a green tea and a black tea in China), which is caused by their specific withering technique.
Oolong itself though is not defined just by its oxidation level but by its style of production, with rolled oolongs and strip oolongs. Darjeeling does have its own oolong tea, which is called such because it employs techniques more in-line with China’s. But to call Darjeeling’s black teas oolongs just due to its oxidation level would be incorrect (to some tea-heads at least).
If your assams have silver tips though, this can be an indication that the teas were either over-handled during production, which can rub off fermentation juices on gold-tipped leaves, or work-hardening, which is caused by improper heating during the drying process, which leaves greyish leaves occasionally with a crackle texture.
Well put, I agree about treating them as black teas, and also brewing them as such (keeping in mind they are at the delicate end of the scale).
I haven’t had any assam with silver tips, but many darjeelings have it.
There’s a huge difference between first and second/autum flushes, not only in a visual way but also in flavour.
Aah, okay. Yes, they’re much more common in Darjeelings, due to the lower oxidation level, and nothing to worry about there.
The different flushes are highly prized for their contrast in character. In Darjeeling, the processing technique also differs between flushes. I prefer autumnal myself—not as green or sharp (might be because I’m not a wine drinker). Second and Autumnal flushes are processed a little more like hongcha and assam black teas.
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Honestly I think Darjeeling First Flushes are a category all of their own in a lot of ways given their unique characteristics.