Giddaphar Tea Estate is located at 1,500m on the gentle slopes of Kurseong Valley of the Darjeeling Hills. The tea estate is known for its century old tea bushes of the historical Chinese variety, known locally as the chinary tea plant. Our tea is made using exactly that, as designated by 'CH' which stands for China or chinary.
Giddapahar Tea Estate was established in 1881 and has remained in the hands of the Shaw family till today. Covering a large area of over 100 ha of tea farms, the tea bushes are blanketed by the constant mist that gathers due to the low temperature of the high elevation. The name explains it, as Giddapahar translates to Eagle's Hill. Running it like a family business, it's currently in the capable hands of its 4th generation owner, Mr. Surendra Nath Singh and his brother.
The techniques of Indian tea is very different from the Chinese. In fact, even the nomenclatures are different, with the Indians calling it black teas and the Chinese calling it a red tea. In the Indian technique, the fresh leaves are left overnight to whither in the tea factory, where they are turned several times to allow even drying and prevent heat accumulation from the accompanying natural reactions. In the morning, the leaves are rolled and given their final shapes before an extremely short 5 to 10 mins of oxidation. They are then dried in a mechanical dryer and packed for the market. Such a technique produces a tea of varying tones of colour - mix of green unoxidised leaves to heavily oxidised red leaves, to colour tones in between. Its flavour reflects this spectrum of colours - fresh, light and bright like a green tea and yet with the aromas and sweetness of ripe fruits that come with heavier oxidation. It is an unforgettable experience.
First flush teas of the highest grade usually come with a string of designations. SFTGFOP 1 means Supper Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekeo Grade 1. Essentially, it means the highest grade. It is harvested 1 bud 2 leaves.
We are brewing this Indian tea in our Parchmen Glass Gaiwan, at 2.5g to 120ml of 80°C water for 45 - 75 sec, shortening the time as you continue to rebrew. First flush Giddapahar shines with its fresh flavours of spring - think fresh and sweet aromas of white flowers like jasmine and light fruits like pear and white grapes, accompanied with a smooth mouthfeel of low astringency. Colour is pale amber or maybe golden.
We are gentle with the pouring of the brewing water to prevent over-extraction of bitter and astringent flavours. For the second or third brews, we used shorter times of 30 sec but at the same temperature.
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