In praise of: Darjeeling first flush

Categories: Product stories

A bright, floral, light tea from Tea2You

Words: Mark Riddaway

This magazine couldn’t exist without tea. Not a chance. A few words might get written, a few pictures might get taken, but nothing would ever come of them. Deprived of tea, we’d mainly just loll around listlessly, conscious of the deadlines but incapable of finding the necessary vim to ever actually meet them.

As in most offices on these islands, the wheels of our endeavour require litres and litres of tea as lubrication, all of it the colour of an English expat’s tan. It is, in essence, a form of organic fuel: part drink, part diesel.

Tea2You’s first flush Darjeeling is different. It’s tea, but just not in the same way. In fact, calling a measure of this bright, fragrant liquid a ‘cup of tea’ feels like a category error. Yes, it’s made from the same plant, but that is where the similarity ends—just as craft beer and pig feed are both made from barley. You’d no more dress this serene beverage with milk and dunk a Hobnob in it than you would a glass of riesling.

Well-muscled cad
There are so many things to appreciate. There’s the lovely name: ‘first flush’, like the involuntary response of a virginal Jane Austen heroine on being approached at a dinner dance by a well-muscled cad.

There’s the complete absence of the astringent, tannic bitterness you’d associate with regular black tea. There’s the fact that it’s so transient and seasonal, picked by hand over a few short weeks in March and April. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

The flavours are bright, floral, light. Preparation is distinctly unfussy (Ingredients: tea, water. Method: pour water over tea). And, thank God, it’s got a proper kick of caffeine. Enough to keep those wheels spinning. Fuel, sure, but damn fine tasting fuel.