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Luxury loose leaf teas, handcrafted tea blends and fine tea ware. ArtfulTea: where the ordinary experience of drinking tea becomes extraordinary.

Tea Wisdom

Darjeeling Black Tea

Nick Rose

Darjeeling black tea

When you think of everything you love about a great black tea, chances are good that you’re thinking of tea from the famous Darjeeling region of India. It’s light in color, features a bouquet of fragrant and refreshing floral notes, and has a hint of bracing, tannic astringency.

While the area is also known for its white, green and oolong tea, black tea from Darjeeling is almost legendary. So much so, in fact, that in order to combat the rampant counterfeit batches that make their way around the world, the Tea Board of India places a certification mark and logo onto boxes so consumers will know exactly what they’re getting and that it’s 100% authentic. This process has earned Darjeeling tea the nickname “the Champagne of teas” due to the similarity of France’s strict labeling policy of the famous sparkling wine.

There are only 87 tea plantations that are certified to produce official, authentic Darjeeling tea. The industry drives the area’s economy, and has since 1841, when it was first planted and quickly gained popularity. The demand for the tea hasn’t faded, and today, more than half of the residents of the Darjeeling district are involved in the tea industry in some way.

Darjeeling isn’t the only well-known black tea from India. You’re probably already familiar with Assam, a large leaf which makes an appearance in popular blends like English Breakfast Tea. But unlike the country’s other tea plants, Darjeeling tea isn’t native to the area. It’s actually made from a small-leaf plant native to China, a nation with a rich history of tea cultivation on its own. The combination of centuries of expert Chinese tea cultivation and the picturesque, ideal climate for tea plantations in India’s Bengal region leads to what is known around the world as the best black tea on the market.

Whole, loose Darjeeling leaves retain the flavor best-- during steeping, there’s more room for leaves to expand and diffuse all of their complex notes than in a typical teabag. Once steeped to your liking, Darjeeling black tea is as delicious unadulterated as it is with cream, sugar or both. However you prefer to drink it, one thing’s clear- it’s called the Champagne of Teas for good reason.