10 exotic Darjeelings for floral “muscatel” flavor experience

Last updated: May 7, 2020 at 16:30 pm

What is Darjeeling tea?

It isn’t easy to win the title of the “champagne of teas”, but Darjeeling tea does it in style. You’ll experience its uniqueness in the very first sip. No other tea offers this unique ‘muscatel’ flavor – an enchanting balance of brisk floral notes and a honeyed, almost buttery aftertaste. One of the most sought-after teas in the world, Darjeeling tea comes from the Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India. Steep Himalayan slopes with slightly acidic soil, along with generous doses of both cloud cover and sunshine, give the tea leaves their distinctive aroma and taste. They also make the tea plants slow to grow, which in turn makes all Darjeelings rare and expensive.

History of Darjeeling tea: smuggled goodness

Loose leaf Darjeeling is by far the most famous Indian tea. It comes from a small-leaved variant of the camellia sinensis plant that is actually native to China. In the mid-19th century, the British were looking for a way to end China’s monopoly in the tea industry. As an experiment, some tea seeds brought in from China were planted in a Darjeeling estate located 7000 feet above sea level. The experiment was a success beyond anything they’d imagined. The tea developed its own distinct identity, and the rest was history.

Where to buy best Darjeeling tea online?

Best loose leaf teas are harvested, processed, packed and shipped garden-fresh straight from tea estates. When your Darjeeling tea originates in a land far, far away, you need a reliable source to ship it to you. Vahdam Teas does just that. This brand specializes in making fresh, genuine and handpicked Indian teas available to purchase online for tea drinkers in the US and Europe.

editor*s choice
Vahdam Teas Online Store

Vahdam Teas Online Store

The quality of their products is superb, shipping is fast and customer service is excellent, no wonder that Vahdam Teas have been featured in Oprah's Favorites. All teas are cleaned, processed and packed packed directly at the source and then air shipped to local fulfillment center in USA. Orders shipped by Fedex for quick delivery. Use our exclusive coupon MADTEA15 for a 15% discount storewide (2 uses per user).

Read on to find our list of 10 best Darjeeling teas to buy from Vahdam Teas, Amazon and other popular and reliable tea vendors online. 

But first, make sure you know your teas.

Darjeeling tea tips

You need to know a thing or two about your loose leaf Darjeeling tea in order to savor it best. Most of all, you need to know about the different ‘flushes’ or harvest seasons as the tea develops very different characteristics depending on when the leaves are plucked. You also need to watch out for ‘fake’ Darjeelings that are nowhere close to the real thing. When shopping for the best Darjeeling tea, look for the following terms in the descriptions:

First flush Darjeeling vs. second flush

There are two main tea harvest seasons in India. The first flush is harvested in spring. First flush Darjeeling tea is very light in color and has a gentle aroma and mild astringency. The second flush is harvested in summer and produces an amber, full bodied, muscatel-flavored tea. Besides these, there are monsoon and autumn Darjeelings that are harvested during the rainy seasons. These tend to be heavily oxidized, have a fuller body, and are often used as a base for chai and other flavored teas.

Darjeeling Gardens

The name ‘Darjeeling’ is legally protected. For a tea to be labeled ‘Darjeeling’, it has to be grown in one of the tea gardens of Darjeeling district and produced according to its standards. There are 87 tea gardens (estates) in the region.  Each estate produces teas with their own character, taste, and aroma. The best loose leaf Darjeelings are processed, packed, and shipped directly from the source to preserve their freshness and authenticity.

Darjeeling black tea and other varieties  

Traditionally, Darjeeling plantations have produced some of the best black teas available on the market. Today, however, tea from this region is also available in the green, oolong, and white teas.

Darjeelings: tasting notes in reviews

Every Darjeeling tea estate will treat you to a unique flavor profile. But generally speaking, all Darjeelings will be bright and aromatic, and will offer a distinctive floral flavor called ‘muscatel’. This kind of Indian tea is very different from robust Assam or Nilgiri teas

Classic black Darjeeling teas have a “slightly vegetal aroma with a hint of wet wood”. Their flavor is “splendidly complex”, “fruity and delightful without being astringent”, and sometimes carrying hints of “cedar, cashew and almonds”

Darjeeling green teas tend to be “fresh and flowery”, their “vegetal notes laced with complex floral flavors”

A cup of spring Darjeeling oolong tea will be “delicate with a light and lovely aroma”. Most will have a “classic Darjeeling first flush fragrance”, along with a “citrusy taste” and “full mouthfeel”.

Emerald Darjeeling Green Tea (Arya)

Emerald Darjeeling Green Tea (Arya)

Courtesy of the popular Arya tea estate in the blissful region of Darjeeling, this green tea stands above the rest with its remarkably clean flavour profile. One of the best summer green teas of the region with clean, vegetal flavours. The beautiful tightly-rolled leaves give a whiff of forest floor and fresh nuts. Unlike other green teas, this tea is not at all edgy but has a smooth liquor.
Gopaldhara Wonder Darjeeling Black Tea First Flush

Gopaldhara Wonder Darjeeling Black Tea First Flush

This is a tea which can be enjoyed anywhere, anytime and will definetly take you in the misty hills of Darjeeling! The leaves are well-rolled, pale, blackish-green and with some olive flakes. The infusion is lightly toasty and is marked by notes of cooked spinach, dry bell pepper, and hint of cream in the undercurrents.
Castleton Exotic Summer Muscatel Black Tea

Castleton Exotic Summer Muscatel Black Tea

Castleton is the original home of the muscatel, and every year, all eyes are on it to see if the tea meets expectations. We've never been disappointed. And as we do every summer, this season too, we have a beautifully turned out muscatel, light bodied and exceptionally good.
organic
The Tao of Tea, First Flush Darjeeling Black Tea, Loose Leaf

The Tao of Tea, First Flush Darjeeling Black Tea, Loose Leaf

This First Flush Darjeeling is grown in the Mirik district (about an hour’s drive from the town of Darjeeling), at a Certified Organic tea garden. Due to its location and the age of the plants, the garden typically produces very robust, flowery teas. The term “First Flush” refers to the first plucking season of the year, which is March to mid-April. Teas from the First Flush are generally more fragrant and lighter than those from the following second flush. Within the First Flush, tea gardens will generally produce many batches, as the tea pickers work daily to cover the vast garden.
Darjeeling Puttabong Summer

Darjeeling Puttabong Summer

Black tea from the famous Darjeeling region of India. This summer harvest tea comes to us from one of our favorites, Puttabong Estate. These tea gardens are some of the highest in the world, at 6000 feet above sea level. At these high altitudes, the tea leaves grow more slowly, and have more time to develop their unique Darjeeling flavor. This one has sweet, white gra..
Organic White Tea Leaves from Darjeeling, Sourced Direct from the Okayti Tea Estate

Organic White Tea Leaves from Darjeeling, Sourced Direct from the Okayti Tea Estate

Handpicked from the most delicate and tender portions of the tea bush, early morning and just before sunrise, this Indian White Tea  from the Okayti tea plantation in Darjeeling, is a class apart. The fluffy silver needles of this white tea Darjeeling tea are manufactured to perfection and display an opulence only found in certain select White teas. The nose to the i..
1st Flush Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling “Limited Edition”

1st Flush Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling “Limited Edition”

This wonderful Indian Darjeeling is the best first flush that we have ever had the privilege of tasting, and is available in very strictly limited quantities, so don't miss out! We only have limited stock quantity of Darjeeling Margaret's Hope First Flush available, and it is already proving incredibly popular, so be sure not to leave it too late to buy. Darjeeling Ma..
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​​High Mountain Oolong Tea Leaves from the Himalaya​​s

An exotic loose leaf oolong tea hand-plucked, rolled & manufactured by passionate tea workers in the mystical high elevation plantations of Darjeeling in India. Harvested at the foothills of the Himalayas, facing the mighty snow laden peaks, the incredible aroma, flavour & taste found in loose leaf teas from from this region is unique and is hence very popular..
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Smooth black tea from the Darjeeling province. Enjoy the classic taste of this traditional Indian brew with our organic Darjeeling tea. This popular black tea variant is known for its delightful fragrance, golden color and rich flavor, and is enjoyed by many cultures around the world.
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White tea from the Darjeeling region of India. A rare treat from the Rohini estate, nestled along the picturesque slopes of the Himalayas. Similar in appearance to the White Peony tea of China, the Darjeeling version is equally sublime. This early spring tea offers young leaves and delicate unopened buds. Dry leaf aroma is crisp with hints of fruit and floral. The..
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