Indian Tea Garden

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Autumnal Flush Tea

The official seal issued by the Indian Tea Board for identifying authentic Darjeeling tea.

Darjeeling autumnal flush is the last flush of the tea season. It is gathered in the months of September and October after the monsoon season has ended. A 'flush' is the term used to describe when the tea plant produces a new growth leaves. This final flush of leaves is full of flavor and is different from the previous flushes because the climate has changed. This once again reveals one of the treasures of tea, a number of different and unique flushes all obtained from the same bushes.

Tea plants, like other deciduous plants, if left to grow in the wild state, will continue to mature. The tea leaves, as they mature, become larger and less flavorful and the tea plant becomes ever larger and woody. Indeed, tea plants can grow thirty feet and more in height left unattended. Such a large, established plant is difficult to harvest and its new growth is limited to the most outer reaches of its woody branches.

The tea plants in the Poobong Tea Garden are cultivated and maintained at a 'bush' stage. Allowed to grow only three to five feet in height keeps the plants completely manageable and most importantly, stimulates rich full 'flushes' of tender leaves.

Plucking the leaves in March, the first flush, then stimulates the tea plants to begin to produce another flush of leaves. It is in April and May that the second flush is produced and plucked. During the summer monsoon season there is rapid growth, which results less flavorful leaves. Finally in the drier and cooler fall, a third flush, or autumnal flush, is plucked. This marks the end of that years growing season as the cold dry winter sets in.

Visual inspection of the leaves shows that they are broken into rather uniform, small pieces. The dry leaves are a mixture of brown, green, and some black pieces. Because of the compact nature of the broken leaves preparing a pot of tea requires using less than full rounded teaspoon measurements. Of course, this can vary depending on one's preference. Once steeped the leaves appear to be more of a brownish green color.

Steeping results in a liquor that is a pleasant golden amber color. Both the aroma and the taste have a mild 'nutty' quality. The classic and unique complex Darjeeling qualities are also present, but to a lesser degree than the season's earlier flushes. Additionally, the aroma also has a slight 'spicy' hint and the taste is more vegitative than other flushes.

The well known Darjeeling astringency is present but milder. Similar to the other flushes, the astringent quality is a bit more apparent as an 'after taste' that lingers. This tea has a smooth, medium-light body adding to its lushness. As with all Darjeeling tea, the final flavor is once again complex and attempting to describe the various subtleties is difficult at best.

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