Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

How to Taste Darjeeling

Samir Changoiwala Tastes Second Flush Darjeelings

Samir Changoiwala is the director of India's Gopaldhara Tea Company, who also owns the Avongrove and Rohini Estates in Darjeeling, India. Those who have witnessed Changoiwala's tasting methodologies of Second Flush Darjeelings find them quite refreshing. On one such occasion he began by spreading out about an ounce of tea on a large, white card from each invoice sampled. This was to evaluate the quality of the picking and sorting of the leaves. The variance between sequentially numerated invoices was surprisingly noticeable. Some invoices were carefully picked, others less so.

Changoiwala used 2.5 grams of tea in a 4-ounce taster cup and steeped it for 5 minutes. The resulting liquor was very strong, much stronger than the American palate is used to. Milk is often added to Darjeeling tea in India but that is not the only reason-it is just as often drunk this strong.

Every aspect of the tea seemed to have been magnified. The aroma became more intense, the color rich and clear, and the liquor strong and complex. This is very similar to the way the Chinese drink, or rather test, oolongs: the practice of using comparatively large amounts of leaves, freshly boiled water and a longer steeping time to try and push out all possible characteristics. Slurping loudly (as is the custom) after sipping aerates the hot tea and allows you to taste more completely. This is the same practice that one follows in a wine tasting.

The line-up of eight cups represented eight separate invoices, or production lots, of tea. Each one was a "separate," distinct tea. They all had similar characteristics as they were produced during the second flush. They all had differences related to the exact area the tea was plucked in, the elevation, the garden and the weather when the tea was processed. By tasting them side-by-side one is able to compare and decide which teas to select.

More information at

© 2002 All Rights Reserved, In Pursuit of Tea, Inc.

Tea Features
More Tea Tips


(Updated: 10/01/10 AR)

Discover the fascinating world of tea! Find the best tea rooms, learn how to brew Matcha, explore the health benefits of tea and much more.

Searching for your cup of tea? Our taste reviews of some of the finest teas in the world will help you find your favorite blend to sip in no time!