Mar 21 2011

Tea Primer: What is First Flush?

Tea Primer: What’s  First Flush?
Between February and April in tea growing regions, tea plants put out the new growth of the new season, as seen in the picture to the right.. This new growth is called a “flush”. You will often see the word “flush” used when speaking about Darjeeling tea, that Champagne of Teas from high mountain areas of Northeastern India. After plucking of the first flush leaves, subsequent rounds of new growth are also named and some are more highly regarded than others.First flush Darjeeling has a light, crisp flavor, with very slight atsringency which is highly prized by many as spring arrives. The 2nd flush Darjeelings come a bit later in the Spring, and offer the more fruity, muscatel flavor so desired in a good Darjeeling. Monsoon, or summer flushes are usually a less well regarded Darjeeling, but again in the Autumnal Flush, Darjeelings often reveal a fine, muscatel flavor and fruity aroma.
Although other countries also look forward to the first new growth of the year, it is primarily in India where the flush will be indicated in the name of the teas. One might also see reference to flush when shopping for Assam teas, a more southern area of India. In China, teas are not usually referred to by flush, although a highly prized and welcomed tea is Qing Ming, a round of plucking that is ready before the Qing Ming Festival, which falls in early April every year. 
The sight of tea fields ready for plucking of the first flush tea is a sight for sore eyes. The larger, darker green tea leaves below are topped  with fresh, bright green growth at the tops of the bushes, much like the welcome sight of new buds on trees and shrubs which we experience here in Maine. Except that in the case of teas, the reward is a wonderfully delicious cup of beverage!
We will keep you informed as new teas begin to be available here at Nellie’s.