Tea is a multi-cultural icon, beloved the world over and enjoyed in myriad forms. Yet all tea, other than herbal tea, comes from the same plant – the Camellia sinensis.
Darjeeling Tea is well-known as the “Champaign of Teas”. Authentic Darjeeling comes from the Chinese variety of the Camellia sinensis. It grows at the foothills of the Himalayas in West Bengal, India. It’s processed and classified as black tea however some estates now offer Darjeeling green, white and oolong teas. Let’s compare two favorites: Darjeeling Black and Darjeeling Green.
Darjeeling Black tea is produced when the leaves are allowed to oxidize, turning dark brown and producing an incredibly flavorful tea that, once brewed becomes a lovely, soothing cup of light golden-brown tea with hints of red, but of course this also depends on how long the tea is brewed.
When making Darjeeling Green tea, the freshly plucked leaves are steamed which prevents oxidation while allowing the leaves to retain their natural green color. The leaves are then rolled, dried and are ready for brewing into a gorgeous cup of green tea.
Darjeeling Black tea is almost always less astringent than typical varieties of black tea. Its flavor is gentle and lighter, yet deeper and more complex. It’s light to medium-bodied with floral notes and delicate hints of fruit. It can range from light golden to a darker bronze-like color once brewed.
Darjeeling Green tea is lighter than a typical Darjeeling, but it’s stands on its own quite nicely. It’s complex yet delicate and vegetal, slightly grassy, herbaceous and ever-so-slightly fruity, yet calming.
Darjeeling Black tea blends beautifully with a variety of fruits, roots and roasted meats like lamb, beef, venison and game meats, or a healthy grilled steak, some smoked salmon and a variety of citrusy desserts. Try it with berries, bananas, yams and sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash and roasted root vegetables like beets, rutabaga, onions and carrots. It brings out the best in a New York Cheesecake or a Chocolate Mousse, an orange tea-cake or some lemon cookies. You’ll love it as is or with cream or lemon, and/or a spoonful of sugar or grated jaggery, or honey.
Darjeeling Green tea pairs perfectly with lighter foods and dishes such as fish, shellfish, roast chicken, vegetable dishes and salads. It’s perfect with sushi and wonderful with grilled salmon, light grain dishes and fresh vegetable and cheese sandwiches. Enjoy it with a fruit salad, a piece of dark chocolate, a slice of chocolate cake, a light cheese cake or a light, lovely pastry. We think it’s perfect just as it is, but some people prefer to add a bit of lemon and/or honey, and that’s fine, too.
Regardless of your personal taste, you’ll find both Darjeeling Black and Green teas truly exceptional.