A cup of hot brew. You sip it slowly taking in the aroma through your senses. The hot tingling sensation lifts the spirit and as the brew trickles down the throat, the mind is elated. The body feels energetic, and the imagination is purported to the world of new creation and actions. This hot brew is none other than a cup of Darjeeling Tea. The right choice of a brew that has eluded even the monarchies of Windsor Castle.
History of tea gardens in Darjeeling
The origin of Darjeeling Tea goes back to the early time of Indian colonisation. It is the Britishers who planted, nurtured and made the Darjeeling tea famous though it is a high-priced asset of the Indian nation. In order to create a hill station for the Britishers stationed in Kolkata, Archibald Campbell, an employee of the East India Company, planted the first Camellia sinensis in the Darjeeling region in 1841.
Darjeeling Tea is the only type of tea in the world to be granted Geographical Indication (GI) trademark protection is tea. These teas are allegedly the highest-elevation teas ever produced, and it is the attitude that fosters the perfect habitat for the tea plant. The first industrial tea gardens were built in the year 1856. Darjeeling had 39 tea gardens by 1866, yielding a total crop of 21,000 kg of tea. In 1870, there were about 56 tea gardens that produced around 71,0000 kilograms of tea from 4400 hectares of land. The tea business was now successful. 86 tea gardens currently produce about 10 million kg of tea in Darjeeling each year. The best aromatic teas in the world are currently made in Darjeeling.
Darjeeling has historically produced black tea but today about 70% of the tea gardens are also collecting organic teas which are farmed using only natural resources. These do not use artificial chemicals or fertilizers. By internationally famous organisations such as the IMO (Switzerland), Demeter's certification (Germany), India Organics, USDA, etc., teas are further rigorously examined and certified as "Organic Tea."
Climatic conditions required for Darjeeling tea
Between 200 and 2000 metres above sea level, Darjeeling tea is cultivated. Rainfall: Between 1700 and 2500 millimetres of yearly rainfall are needed. High levels of humidity, fog, dampness, and a light breeze. Reddish, rich organic soil.
Process of making the tea –
Darjeeling tea is a very sophisticated brew that goes through a meticulous withering, oxidation and drying process that yields a dark brown amber tint and unusual earthy fragrances. Darjeeling teas are grown with great care since they have a significantly smaller fermentation window.
Health Benefits of Darjeeling Tea
Relating about the health benefits I remember of a day when I was drenched like a cat while returning home. The day was of heavy shower around a decade back and I was in a place at Chattisgarh. In the thick and chilling shower, I had walked a long distance till I reached the guest house. I knew I was going to catch fever soon. An idea came to me. I had heard how the people at the hill stations beat the cold from shower.
Instantly I boiled two sliced apples with a spoon of Darjeeling tea in the kettle. Added a pinch of sugar and drank the broth. I was filled with a warm and energising sensation from within and no cold or fever came to me. Hot Darjeeling can do such a wonder if properly used.
1.Contains Vital Antioxidants Thearubigins and the aflavins are two types of antioxidants that are prevalent in Darjeeling tea. Together, these intricate substances work to remove toxins, neutralise toxic chemicals produced during digestion, and fight free radicals. Lack of these antioxidants hastens cellular damage, increases the risk of chronic diseases, and hastens aging. Consuming Darjeeling tea fills the antioxidant gap.
2. Decreases Cancer Risk Thearubigins and the aflavins are two types of antioxidants that are prevalent in Darjeeling tea. Together, these intricate substances work to remove toxins, neutralise toxic chemicals produced during digestion, and fight free radicals. Lack of these antioxidants hastens cellular damage, increases the risk of chronic diseases, and hastens aging. Consuming Darjeeling tea fills the antioxidant gap.
3. Makes Sure You're Hydrated EnoughDieticians, medical professionals, and nutritionists advise consuming at least eight glasses of water every day to prevent dehydration. Darjeeling tea might increase your overall levels of hydration.
4. Stress ReliefHigh blood pressure, skin diseases, heart issues, asthma, depression, arthritis, and anxiety are all significantly influenced by stress. In other words, stress weakens your immune system and invites a plethora of illnesses. Darjeeling tea reduces stress by controlling the body's synthesis of the stress hormone cortisol. Darjeeling tea makes you happy because of this.
5. Improves Cardiac HealthDarjeeling tea improves blood circulation and reduces LDL cholesterol oxidation. It also contains a lot of quercetin. It has been discovered that the substance lowers the risk of atherosclerosis, which is the artery plaque accumulation that can cause a heart attack or stroke.
6. Aids in Weight LossAccording to studies, Darjeeling tea consumption decreases abdominal fat and accelerates weight loss. Higher oxidation tea blends are more efficient at promoting weight reduction than their less oxidised counterparts. Darjeeling tea which has undergone some oxidation is quite good at promoting weight loss.
The high quantity of catechins, which are naturally occurring antioxidants that promote metabolism and improve fat burning, maybe the cause of this, according to scientists.
Types of Darjeeling Tea –
There are about six types of tea available as Darjeeling Tea-
- White Tea
- Green Tea
- Yellow Tea
- Oolong Tea
- Black Tea
- Dark Tea or post fermented tea
White tea –The least processed tea, which is plucked and wilted for days is the white tea although some white teas undergo a second drying process. White tea undergoes little processing, and as a result, many businesses promote white tea for having high antioxidant levels. The majority of the antioxidants found in young tea leaves are retained by white tea. This tea has flavours that range from fruity to floral and sweet honey.
Green tea -Due to its numerous health advantages, green tea is the most consumed beverage in the US. It has a high content of antioxidants and chlorophyll and is heated after withering to avoid oxidation. For flavour development, the leaves are rolled. The flavour ranges from toasted to smoky and sea to vegetal.
Yellow tea –Since making yellow tea is difficult and time-consuming, it is the rarest of all the varieties. The steps needed to manufacture yellow tea are quite similar to those used to produce green tea.
It is wrapped, which results in non-enzymatic oxidation. The tea's colour becomes darker as a result of this.
Oolong Tea –In terms of oxidation, oolong tea is referred to as the slightly oxidised tea that falls between green and black tea. To get a darker colour and more oxidation, the leaves are bruised.
Black Tea -The most popular type of tea drank worldwide is black tea. After a protracted withering process, this tea has entirely oxidised. To hasten the oxidation process, tea leaves are chopped. The bitterness is lessened, and sweetness is increased throughout the oxidation process. This group includes the Darjeeling tea.
Dark Tea –Due to the similarity in how they are processed, dark tea and green tea are comparable. However, they mature for years and go through a microbial fermentation process. It is known as post-fermented tea because of the fermentation process.
Statistics related to Darjeeling tea –
Darjeeling tea is one of the major products that helps increase the country’s financial status by its huge export rate. India exports most of the tea to Germany, Japan and United States and is the largest exporter of Darjeeling tea in the world. Apart from India, there are two other exporters of Darjeeling tea - Sri Lanka and Singapore. Nearly 60% of the Darjeeling tea is exported to the world markets.
It is advised to drink Darjeeling tea without milk or sugar because the region's environment gives it a potent, peppery flavour. Darjeeling tea occasionally has a light golden hue and is slightly green in colour. People who like a spicy flavour in tea prefer Darjeeling tea. Even this tea has variants according to the people’s taste, purity and preference. They have different budgets as well.
There are tea houses which sprawls at different parts of India and even the world around. With Juices, spices, milk, cream and ice-creams the cups are on their wonder rounds to allure customers all over.
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