An Eden in India: Giddapahar Darjeeling Tea Estate

Over the years we have tried almost a dozen teas from the Giddapahar Tea Estate, courtesy of several tea vendors. We had thought of Darjeeling tea, prior to trying these and other samples, as having basically one type of flavor and one style of processing. We learned otherwise. Flushes and cultivars make a big difference, but that’s not all.

Darjeeling teas are often classified as black teas, that is, fully oxidized. However, the tea processors there are processing some teas as white, green, aged, and even oolong (semi-oxidized). They are pushing to expand their market and get recognition for the many smaller productions and truly hand-crafted or artisan teas. Second flush tea is considered the best. It is the second period of growth after the first harvest of the growing season (there is usually a period of dormancy during Winter months) and the plant puts a lot of its energy into growing out those leaves a second time. We tend to go for the Autumn Flushes (aka Autumnals) with their more nutty/fruity flavors.

About Ratings & Flushes

The ratings shown for these teas are part of the Orange Pekoe rating system used for Darjeeling and other teas in some countries.

  • “FTGFOP” = “Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe”
  • “SFTGFOP” = “Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe”
  • “1” = a step up in quality
  • “CL” = a clonal tea, that is, a “vintage” tea plant was cloned

Flushes are periods of growth and then harvest (exact dates vary by garden location and the weather). Abbreviations used in the photo descriptions:

  • 1F = First Flush (roughly early March thru late April)
  • 2F = Second Flush (roughly late May thru June)
  • AF = Autumn Flush (roughly early September thru October)

The Tea(s):

We have been privileged to try the teas shown here. Please click on each photo to see details.

About the Giddapahar Tea Estate

Giddapahar Tea Estate official site

This is a small (94-109 hectares, depending on the source) tea estate in West Bengal, India. It has been owned by the Shaw family since 1881 and is also known as Eagles Cliff. They are in the most prestigious heart of the Kurseong Valley and grow traditional China varietals as well as some clonals. Their output is relatively small, so you might want to pre-order, especially the First Flush, from Thunderbolt Tea or Lochan Tea Ltd. (see info on each vendor below). One thing for sure is it’s a great place to visit, whether or not you’re interested in tea. Their main tea maker is Mr. Sharma, who has been doing so for the past four decades.

The Giddhapahar tea estate located in the Kurseong subdivision of Darjeeling district has its own distinct identity. Their green tea is especially highly regarded among tea connoisseurs. The garden is surrounded by thick forests that can provide natural beauty as well as needing to garden those who work there from wild animals. The Kanchenjunga mountain can also be seen from there, making this quite a tourist destination.

Tourism Info

Giddapahar Tea Estate (DarjeelingTourismPackages.com)

About the Teas

  • One of the few Darjeeling tea estates still producing tea from older plantings of China tea bush varietals. Their tea is, therefore, extra special and rare with a body and richness highly prized.
  • The dry leaves have a mix of green colors plus a hint of deep gray caused by the leaves responding differently during oxidation.
  • Production is done in small batches and sell quickly due to high demand.
  • The first flush teas are among the most sought after, having just the right flavor and freshness.
  • The second flush teas are also very popular.

The Vendors

The samples above came from these vendors (click on each logo to see details):

© 2016-2020 World Is a Tea Party photos and text

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