What is a Second Flush Darjeeling tea?
Fine teas from Darjeeling are divided into First Flush and Second Flush, which indicates when the leaves were plucked. A “flush” refers to a period of growth (or harvest), as tea bushes and trees grow constantly throughout the growing season, pushing out new buds and top leaves at regular intervals, which are then plucked.
First Flush teas are harvested from the end of dormancy until mid-May and are characterized by light liquors that embody spring freshness, bright and lively flavours with intense astringency (due to increased chlorophyll content). The Second Flush, however, favoured by many, is plucked from mid-May to mid-June (when the monsoon rains arrive) and offers the same flavour profile as the First Flush, but with more body and less astringency. The Second Flush teas very attractive teas and fetch the highest prices of any flush. The rich and aromatic liquors may show the prized muscatel flavour and are coloury in the cup, and like fine wine, Second Flush teas can benefit from age.
Tea continues to grow and be plucked after the Second Flush. The Monsoon Flush, also known as Rain teas is a Darjeeling tea produced from mid July to October. The liquor produced from this tea possesses more colour and strength than other Darjeeling teas, and due to their abundance, are often used in blends.
A few favoured Darjeeling gardens are able to produce Autumnal Flush from late October through to the month of November. The autumnal leafs takes on a light copper brownish tinge and the liquor embodies a nutty aroma. While autumnal harvests are common to most tea regions, only those of Darjeeling, Taiwan and Japan are identified as such.