June is a month for weddings, for those bells ringing, the beautiful brides gliding down the aisle in their white gowns, and wedding receptions with cakes and bands playing. It’s also Summer Flush time in Darjeeling, India!
A “flush” is a time of growth and then harvest of the tea. In Darjeeling, India, there are four flushes: Spring, Summer, Monsoon, and Autumn. After Autumn, the plants go dormant as Winter descends — they slumber and dream of Spring.
A few descriptions (typos and all) that I have seen online about Summer Flush (sometimes called “Second Flush”):
- “The summer flush is the lowest quality of the year…”
- “Lively bright colour, as opposed to dull. …a bright copper/purple in second flush…”
- “The second flush is picked from late May to June and produces an amazing, well rounded, mature and fruity flavor of tea that is said to be less astringent and even better than the first flush.”
- “The Second Flush here is from April to June. … The Second Flush teas, which exhibit a real muscatel flavor, are winey and spicey [sic], and preserve well.”
- “2nd flush – Harvested in June, these teas are more fully developed. The liquor is bright and the taste full and round excellent muscatel.”
- “Summer Flush — May – June — This flush is famed for its prominent quality. The leaf has a purplish bloom. The liquor is bright, the taste full and round with a fruity note.”
- “During this period the nature of the liquor changes, becoming stronger, yet retaining the brightness and character that Darjeeling is known for.”
Okay, so much for what those folks think. Here’s what hubby and I thought of some Summer (Second) Flush Darjeelings we’ve tried from a variety of tea gardens:
- In the cup, … a general planty sweetness. An excellent tea on its own…
- … a mild, delicious green tea … We needed nothing added to the taste, not even a little sweetener. Very distinctive taste … but still clearly a tea from Darjeeling, India.
- Very different from the other Darjeelings yet having a distinctive Darjeeling taste. Often called the “champagne of teas,” Darjeelings have a natural sweetness, yet a planty and earthy character. This tea is not exception to that.
- Another distinct tasting tea that still has the overall characteristics of a tea from Darjeeling, India.
- Complex flavors seemed to change with each sip as the tea cooled. That world-renowned muscatel-like flavor was evident, especially in the aftertaste.
- …started out woodsy when hot and turned fruity and smoother as they cooled.
- …the flavor … changed subtly as it started to cool after being poured into the cup. … The fruitiness became more pronounced with a planty finish … You won’t need any sweetener or milk for this tea.
- …the flavors … changed, with the characteristic Muscatel flavor becoming more pronounced with a nutty hit to the roof of my mouth. … this tea needs no sweetener or milk. Just a fabulous and refreshing white tea!
- … the flavors of this one changed, with the characteristic Muscatel flavor becoming more pronounced and the nutty flavor fading. … this tea needs no sweetener or milk as far as we are concerned. Just a fabulous and refreshing tea!
- The liquid was a light orangey brown color with a pronounced Muscatel flavor and aroma. There were tangy afternotes, but no bitterness or astringency. A second steep was overall a bit lighter, but the flavor character was still there and very pleasant with no bitterness or mouth puckering aftertaste.
- The liquid was a peachy pink color with a strong fruity character in the aroma. That wonderful characteristic Muscatel flavor was clearly evident in both steepings and became slightly stronger as the liquid cooled.
- The liquid was a golden color with a very fruity flavor and aroma. This wasn’t so much the typical Muscatel character but more of a apricotty and naturally sweet flavor. … a hint of lilac-like floral in the aftertaste. There was no bitterness or astringency.
- The first infusion was a bit strong. …the flavor developed a nice Muscatel character as the orangey-colored liquid cooled slightly, and the liquid had a light, caramelly aroma. The 2nd and 3rd infusions were lighter in color, aroma, and flavor and without any bitterness.
- The liquid was a golden-reddish color with a richly fruity aroma. The flavor was mild with a tangy fruity finish that was stronger in the 2nd infusion. The 3rd infusion was weaker overall but did not lose that Muscatel character.
- … the flavor was so mild and did not have that pronounced fruity quality associated with true Darjeeling teas. But as the tea liquid cooled, the flavor became slightly stronger yet still mild and with no bitterness, with the Muscatel character becoming evident mainly in the aftertaste.
A fine Summer Flush tea we’ve tried was from Margaret’s Hope Estate. The Muscatel flavor and aroma are prominent and to be savored. Yes, indeed, Summer Flush Darjeeling teas are not to be missed. Get yours while you can!
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