Is it Darjeeling or is it Darjeeling?


Consider this. Darjeeling produces approximately 10-12 million kilograms of tea every year. That’s actually quite small in the grand scheme of things. However, over 40 million kilograms of “Darjeeling” tea are sold worldwide every year.

Darjeeling Tea

Originally uploaded by etm21.

No, it’s not magic. Just unscrupulous marketers trying to make a buck. Everyone knows that Darjeeling tea has enormous cache in the tea world, so the thought is “why not take advantage of it?” There’s a good post about the problem here.

So next time you buy Darjeeling tea, make sure you ask if it’s real.


12 Responses to “Is it Darjeeling or is it Darjeeling?”

  1. Is it like blending in the coffee realm? Add a little Darjeeline to something else and put a rubber stamp on it I would imagine. Its like getting a Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee blend for $10, or getting the purse stuff for $35.00/lb.

    Have you ever done tean in a french press? Every now and then I get a craving for some tea and always wondered if my press work.

  2. Hi Brotherhood of the Bean (nice blog!),

    Thanks for the comment.

    1. Is it like blending in the coffee realm?

    Very much so. However, the issue I raised in my post is that unscrupulous marketers are selling cheap, lower-grade Kenyan or Nepalese tea and branding it as “Darjeeling” because they know it will fetch a higher price.

    According to the Tea Board of India, Darjeeling tea means:

    “Tea which has been cultivated, grown, produced, manufactured and processed in tea gardens (current schedule whereof is attached hereto) in the hilly areas of Sadar Sub-Division, only hilly areas of Kalimpong Sub-Division comprising of Samabeong Tea Estate, Ambiok Tea Estate, Mission Hill Tea Estate and Kumai Tea Estate and Kurseong Sub-Division excluding the areas in jurisdiction list 20,21,23,24,29,31 and 33 comprising Subtiguri Sub-Division of New Chumta Tea Estate, Simulbari and Marionbari Tea Estate of Kurseong Police Station in Kurseong Sub-Division of the District of Darjeeling in the State of West Bengal, India. Tea which has been processed and manufactured in a factory located in the aforesaid area, which, when brewed, has a distinctive, naturally occurring aroma and taste with light tea liquour and the infused leaf of which has a distinctive fragrance.”

    Tea blending is a serious business, and entirely legitimate. Many of the most well known tea types – English Breakfast (Assam, Ceylon, Keemun), Irish Breakfast (Assam, Chinese Yunnan), to cite just a couple of examples, are in fact, blends. In fact many teas you find in supermarkets are blends. Legitimate blenders will mark their teas as being a “blend of Darjeeling and Ceylon”, or “Darjeeling and Oil of Bergamot”, etc. One of the most well known blenders in the tea industry is Brooke Bond (or at least they used to be Brooke Bond until they were acquired by Unilever).

    Many tea tasters I know like to mix a little Darjeeling with a little Assam to create their very own blend. My point is that retailers of tea should know when they are selling a legitimate blend vs. selling something that is entirely different from what’s advertised on the label.

    2. Making tea in a french press

    Yes, yes and yes. I do it all the time. Here’s a nice article on it.

  3. Very interesting, I never knew how multi-layered the tea world appears to be. I would have never have thought about using my french press for tea until I saw this show “Good Eats” episode on Tea. I was amazed at how much the tea expands when reconstituted. Great info, keep up the good work!

  4. I saw the same show, if you’re talking about this one – I’m a big Alton Brown fan! And I’m addicted to the Food Network.

  5. 5 Ira

    I’d like to know which Darjeeling estates are considered the very best. Castleton? Makaibari? Margaret’s Hope?

  6. 6 Jim Schneider

    There was tea tasting last July at Indian Consulate, NY where a lot of
    people were invited including the President of Specialty Tea Institute.
    Producers sent in their teas for tasting session. Lingia got rave
    reviews. We finished 5 tea pots, others were on half.

    Makaibari, #2 in terms of price, makes approx. 100 M.T. annually and Castleton, #1 in terms of price, makes
    40 M.T. annually. However it seems that this past year (2006) both these gardens
    buying green leaf from other sources in Darjeeling, manufacturing in
    own factories and this produce i.e. made tea will be sold under their
    respective garden marks.

    Makaibari had already produced 127 M.T. made tea up to end October this past
    and Castleton 40 M.T. up to end October already. These are published
    figures by the DTA.

    Margaret’s Hope needs a few years.

    Soom Estate the Germans call Zoom Estate by the action around first invoice.

    Lingia 2nd Flush can be had for $7/8 finings, $16 kilo broken.


    Jim Schneider
    Director of Investment & Research
    Chamong Tee Pvt Ltd
    Niagara Falls – Kolkata – Yardley
    905 357 2548

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  1. 1 Morality « tea.uncomplicated
  2. 2 Auditing Darjeeling « Tea. Uncomplicated
  3. 3 The Cup is Half Full for Indian Tea « Tea. Uncomplicated

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