A Flush Of Tea
Like any agricultural product, tea is seasonal. The flavors and characteristics of tea is dependent on the season as well as the environmental conditions it grows and when harvested it's mostly done with two or three leaves and a bud. We all know the types of tea that are out there such as white, black, or green, but when it comes to premium teas there is another categorization which is by flush. Flush is mainly associated with Indian Teas and it’s the time of the year when the leaves are harvested and are known to affect the flavor of the tea.
Tea in India is harvested in four separate flushes and each flush is determined by the climate and geography of the region it's grown at. Darjeeling teas are famously plucked using this process. First flush is the first pluck of the harvest and is the most popular of all the flushes. Being the tender and the youngest part of the plant, it's said to brew the freshest and the most scintillating cup of tea. Picked typically at the beginning of February and often lasts through April and are not oxidized much hence the leaves may have more of a greenish tinge rather than the more common black.
First flush of the Darjeeling tea is some of the most premium and expensive tea leaves in the market. Tea connoisseurs all over the world consider this harvest to be the “champagne” of teas.
Picked up as early as April and running through May or June is the second flush of the harvest which yields much larger and more mature leaves. The leaves of the second flush have a purplish hue with silver tips or leaf buds and give a stronger but smooth flavor. The second flush is known to grow faster which gives them a deeper taste, color, and aroma. Full-bodied and carrying a fruity flavor, the teas from the second flush are perfect for a lazy summer evening.
The next flush is the monsoon flush and is known to yield much larger leaves and when brewed have a stronger color and bolder flavor. Less complex than the other flushes, the monsoon flush is generally used for commercial production. As the name suggests these are picked after rains that follow summer and do provide a stronger flavor but may not be as strong as the other flushes but will make delicious iced teas.
The final flush is harvested in Autumn and in this flush, the leaves grow much slower but the harvest brews a rich, flavorful nutty tea. The flush happens in the months of October and November and the brew is a rich copper color. This is the last flush of the year before the tea pickers retire for the winter.
So which is the best flush for you?
If you are an individual who has a taste for delicacies, we suggest the first spring flush. Keep in mind that their flavors are enhanced when they are brewed using western techniques where the leaves are brewed longer. This however is not the case for the first flush of the Assam and Darjeeling teas. The autumn flush is the perfect leaves for the western brewing technique. If you love to add some milk to your tea we would suggest the much stronger summer and monsoon flushes which give it in-depth flavor.
Each flush is unique with its distinct flavor and characteristics. The flush is affected not only when it's harvested but which region it's harvested from. It opens up a world of a variety of flavors one can try and there is something for everyone. Buying the first flush is like an investment so make sure you store it well and steep it sooner than later because even though it lasts a year the earlier it's steeped the more powerful the flavor. So head on to your closest store and buy a bag, trust us you would want to keep on steeping.