By Mini Ribeiro
There is nothing like a cup of Darjeeling Tea, for connoisseurs of tea. The soothing aroma and delicate taste of Darjeeling tea is unparalleled. Darjeeling tea is a black tea from Darjeeling in West Bengal.
Other varieties include Oolong, Green and White. Darjeeling black tea is indeed the most famous variety of Darjeeling teas and one of the most expensive as well. Thanks to Dr Campbell, who painstakingly planted tea in 1840 in Darjeeling, we get to enjoy Darjeeling tea.
To have this tea in your kitchen in Kolkata is a matter of great pride. But people across India and the world over enjoy this tea. I take to Darjeeling Tea as a fish to water. Blame it on my Kolkata connection! Many of my summer holidays were spent in the tea gardens, sipping this ‘champagne of brews’. The musky scent and floral fragrance of Darjeeling tea, spells magic for me and perhaps for every lover of this tea.
It is almost an art to prepare the perfect cup of Darjeeling tea. It is an elaborate ritual and you cannot afford to go wrong. It helps to choose a pot that has enough space for the leaves to open up and release their distinct aroma. To brew the tea right is critical and water plays an integral part. Try and use fresh water each time, for boiling, else repeatedly boiled water makes it flat and lends a stale flavour to the tea, which mars its taste.
Never add tea leaves to the boiling water if you’re preparing Darjeeling Tea. Pour the boiled water in a tea pot. Measure one teaspoon of tea leaves per cup and add it to the boiled water in the pot. Steep it for 5 minutes or so. Strain the brew into your cup and your cuppa is now ready to be sipped. Darjeeling tea is usually enjoyed without any milk and sugar. Only then do you get the real flavours. But if you prefer milk, go for it. But a word of caution, never boil Darjeeling Tea directly in milk or water, as it will cook the leaves and make the tea very bitter. Some people enjoy their tea with a few drops of lemon. I too prefer it that way.
But how many of us really have the time in the hurly-burly of things to prepare a cup of Darjeeling tea. We settle for the quick chai every morning or maybe a tea bag. Perhaps restaurants and hotels are the other places you can head to, for the real brew, leisurely prepared and served.
Your palate is the best guide when having a cup of Darjeeling tea. Most Five Star Hotels in Goa serve Darjeeling Tea. Tourists and locals alike enjoy this tea. There’s nothing like sipping this tea at the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa during monsoons. Ooh! My day is made. The view from there is breathtaking. I can spend hours enjoying my cuppa and thinking. Shangrila, a tea shop in Candolim also sells Darjeeling Tea.
Darjeeling tea’s fame is spreading far and wide. Recently, a team of 24 Argentineans came to Darjeeling from the Argentine Tea School, to gain a first-hand experience of the production process of Darjeeling tea. People abroad love Darjeeling tea and pay a whooping sum to have a cup of the real brew.
Taste apart, rich in anti-oxidants, this amazing tea strengthens your immune system. It permeates through your veins and helps you unwind. It is gentler than other black teas. Not for nothing did George Orwell wax eloquent about it. I too could go on and on extolling its virtues, but you’ve got to sip it to believe me.