Spring Flush − Nepal vs. Darjeeling

Why start a month earlier with the same conditions?

The spring tea season has is here again. Couriers of renowned companies are coming to our door every day, delivering plump envelopes and being greeted with a big smile – we know what they bring! The dozens and dozens of tea samples from gardens of famous names go straight into our tasting cups and we are experiencing the waves of euphoria and bliss known to anyone who has tasted fresh Himalayan tea. If you happen to walk past our shop in Holešovice, drop in and taste some!

First Flush from Darjeeling anf Nepal

When the season starts?

Almost every year, there is a shift in the beginning of the spring flush. This year it started in the middle of January − which does not sound like a spring flush at all. This is true only about the tea from Darjeeling, India. The teas from the Nepal side of the border begin to be picked at almost the same time every year – the flush starts in the third week of March and culminates in April. Why the difference if the climate and other conditions are almost identical and the gardens in the eastern part of the famous Ilam region basically blend in with the Indian plantations?

First Flush Darjeeling has a classical golden – green colour

History of tea growing in Darjeeling and Nepal

The main reason are the historical developments that led to different approaches to the cultivation of the tea shrubs. The beginning of the cultivation of tea dates to the very same time, but the later development was different. While India experienced the British (and then Indian) approach, full of experiments, innovations, sometimes  ruthlessness and a strong influence of the industrial revolution made the Darjeeling tea a star of the tea world, the Nepalese tea industry has always been in its shade..

Mostly because of economic and political problems, Nepalese tea gardens served as mere suppliers of tea leaves for the Indian neighbour. It was a s late as the 1950s that the Nepali politics opened globally, there are first private investments and in 1959 the first private tea garden (Bhudhakaran Tea Estate in the south east of the country, nin the Terai region) was founded.  It was many years later that the people of Nepal opened their first factory for the processing of Chinese tea leaves. Nepalese tea becomes recognised globally as late as the turn of the millennium and it is going to take some time for it to get rid of the label of lower-quality Darjeeling.

What is it then that influences the different times of spring flushes? India is much more developed concerning different cultivation technologies and rejuvenation of the tea shrubs. The local farmers have discovered that suitable pruning of the tea shrubs and its timing can influence the start of the following vegetation season. Thanks to the selection of cultivars and newly also irrigation systems, Darjeeling managed to shift the beginning of the spring flush by almost two months compared to the more naturally developing Nepal.


Spring specialties

What makes them undergo all this effort? It is our demand that causes the forever growing prices. European, American and Japanese customers are willing to pay five times as much as the usual price. While in India the gardens and processing facilities are almost always in the hands of a single owner with a robust financial background, and is thus able to invest in new approaches, in Nepal, the ownership is often separated. The factories often simply purchase unprocessed material from the farmers who are in a completely different position than their Indian counterparts. There have been unsuccessful attempts to reverse this trend by means of governmental funding.

Nepalese future

It is clear that Nepalese tea industry has a long way to go. On the other hand, recent projects, such as those from the Dhankuta region, are a clear signal that it is on the right track. We have seen for ourselves when drinking the teas from the Kuwapani, Jun Chiyabari and Guranse gardens only recently founded under the Mount Everest and Makalu. They are the samples from these places that have started coming. We are looking forward to the tasting and we are thrilled to see the ones that will find their way to our shop.

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Klasek Tea
Přístavní 39
1710 00 Praha 7
e-mail: info@darjeeling.cz
tel.: +420 777 052 974

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