Darjeeling is nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. Even in a good year there is little rain in winter, so the few showers that do occur in January are crucial for the first flush. However, this winter there was almost no rain from October onward. In addition, the cold temperatures of winter persisted through the middle of March when most of the premium first flush teas are manufactured. As a result production was down between 30% - 50% compared to previous years and many tea gardens reported that quality suffered as a result of the dry conditions and cold temperatures. With first flush tea in such short supply many buyers went away empty handed. Those that did manage to get their hands on some tea had to pay extremely high prices. We were fortunate enough to place our order for all of our 2014 Arya Estate Darjeeling teas just after the first of the year, thereby ensuring our supply of these excellent teas. The Estate did experience a shortage of approximately 30%, however they contend that the quality of their tea has improved over previous years. I wholeheartedly agree, and I'm sure you will too.
Located in the foothills of the Himalayas of northeastern India, Darjeeling is renowned for producing the "Champagne of Black Teas". It is one of the four main tea growing regions in India and, at 6,000 feet, the highest in elevation. The Arya Estate (which means “respectable” or “best” in the Indian language) is a relatively small tea garden that was established in the eighteenth century by a group of Buddhist monks, whose original dwelling is preserved on the property to this day. It is fully certified organic and is strongly committed to environmental sustainability. The Estate actually has the distinction of having the first private hydro-power generator in Asia! As a small organic tea garden, Arya’s focus has always been on producing artisan teas of exceptional quality.
White tea as we know it today was first produced in China's Fuding Province in 1857 and shortly thereafter in Zhenghe Province using a large leaf Dai Bai cultivar. There are two types of white tea: White Peony and Silver Needle. White Peony uses the top two leaves and a bud whereas Silver Needle uses only the bud. Over the years there have been several variations of white tea using similar production methods with different varieties and from different locations within China, but it is only recently that other countries have ventured into the production of white tea with varied success. Most of the white tea from these other countries is of the Silver Needle type. Arya Pearl Darjeeling White Tea, on the other hand, uses the top two leaves and a bud or just one leaf and a bud.