Darjeeling - The first tea of the season "DJ01"

Darjeeling is somewhere we can’t help being massively sentimental about.  For location and quality, you just can’t beat it.  One of the top 5 cups of tea I ever tasted was from one of the Chamong estates high in the foothills of the Himalayas.  It was 6am in the tea factory and we'd had a long night...

...4 hours earlier, I had been woken up by the factory manager to witness manufacture of probably one of the most important and highly prized teas he would make all year.

Every batch of tea produced is given a unique lot number and  “DJ01” indicates the very first of the season.  Because First Flush is considered the best quality in Darjeeling, it fetches a premium, but DJ01 is worth even more.  It is highly sought by tea connoisseurs around the world. 

Not only did I get to watch the event unfold, but I was also allowed to help (albeit with enormous amounts of “adult” supervision).  It was a fascinating, yet nerve jangling experience.  The production team were constantly on the alert, checking temperature readings, squeezing leaf, tweaking and adjusting settings on driers.  It was vital to get each step of the process right to ensure the highest quality and therefore maintain the reputation of the estate.  No pressure!

The result was exquisite!  The aroma, not just of cup itself, but the dry leaf too, was pungent, floral and full of zest.  The liquor, was a light orange colour, bright and clear.  And for that moment, as the team silently acknowledged what they had just made, all was right with the world.