£12.80 – £32.00
There are Darjeeling teas, and then there is Ultra Luxury Darjeeling tea from Puttabong, Risheehat and Liza Hill. These hand-crafted teas represent the absolute pinnacle of Darjeeling production. Only produced for two weeks each spring, and occasionally, like this year, the taste is especially exquisite on account of the growing season starting 2 weeks earlier than normal. These highly coveted teas are sought by global collectors in a frantic rush similar to that of ‘The Race for Beaujolais Nouveaux’ – the new season French wines from the Beaujolais region.
A little bit about Darjeeling:
The area is in northern India in the shade of Mt Everest and Mt Kanchenjunga and sandwiched between Nepal and the mysterious kingdom of Bhutan. Darjeeling state is basically all mountains and valleys – to get a flat piece of land longer than 1000 feet is a rarity. The area is home to about 2 million people with nearly 15% living on the estates (workers, dependents, and retired workers). More than 50% of the people living here get their primary source of income from tea and tea related activities.
Many of tea bushes can trace their lineage to a Scottish botanist, Robert Fortune who smuggled tea out of China in the 1840’s on a mission by the British East Indies Company to offset the stranglehold China had on Britain’s tea market, by planting tea in Darjeeling. The Champagne characteristic that is very evident on these Ultra First Flush teas comes from the Chinese sub genus of the Camellia Sinensis which thrived in the mountain soils and climate.
From November to March the bushes are dormant (meaning they are not growing new shoots) due to the altitude and northern latitude of the region. When the bushes do start growing again, the new shoots are sparse but simply full of ‘pent-up’ flavor. The new growth is called Ultra First Flush, meaning the best from the beginning of the growing season. In the first 2 weeks these 3 estates only produce about 2000 kilos and there is a race by the luxury stores around the world to get it (Harrods in the UK, Place de Madelaine in France, Nakamura Tea Life in Japan, and Perlov Tea House in Russia….. so we consider ourselves very lucky to have obtained 250g of this exquisite tea.