Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea
By Jeff Koehler
Darjeeling details the history of how Darjeeling tea earned its reputation as the “Champagne of Teas” once it took root in the Himalayan foothills. I was absolutely hooked on Mr. Koehler’s writing style within the first 15 pages, and transported by the evocative prose. Lush vegetation, dramatic vistas, intoxicating aromas…I wanted to live inside this book. I had really been looking forward to this book, especially after sampling American Tea Room Puttabong Estate Muscatel Darjeeling, but it exceeded my wildest expectations. There were SO MANY parts I wanted to review that the book looked like this by the time I finished reading it:
Yes, it has been pointed out to me that I should just go ahead and buy the book for my permanent collection. I will most likely end up doing that because I have to return the book to the library soon and I will never have time to re-read through ALL the sections I tabbed. Sigh.
However, while I still have the book, I will share a few of the things I learned that I did not know before I read Darjeeling:
- There are 87 tea estates, covering 48,000 acres, and producing less than 1% of the tea in India.
- It is an orthodox black tea, hand processed the whole way. (Most black teas are produced by the CTC method.)
- The elevation changes dramatically even on individual plantations, creating a variety of microclimates that influence the tea’s taste.
Those are just some of the factors that help create Darjeeling tea’s unique flavors. I REALLY could go on about Darjeeling all day long, but I think you get the point. I cannot recommend this book enough. Read it. Savor it. Buy it. It’s well worth it.
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