For years, India has been hailed as one of the world’s largest tea-producing countries. In fact, a 2015 report of the Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations stated that India is the world’s second largest tea-producing country, right behind China. This can be attributed to a statistic from two years before — the country’s tea production reaching a whopping 1.2 million tonnes in 2013.1
One of India’s most-prized exports, figuratively and literally, is Darjeeling tea. This type of tea fetches a high price around the world because of its impeccable flavor. If you want to know more about what Darjeeling tea is, why it’s special and what it can offer for your health, then keep reading this article.
What Is Darjeeling Tea?
Darjeeling tea is a kind of black tea grown in a town of the same name, located in the state of West Bengal in India right below foothills of the Himalayan mountains.2,3 Darjeeling tea leaves are often derived from the upper leaves of the Chinese variety of Cammelia sinensis Var. sinensis,4 and cannot be grown or manufactured anywhere else in the world.
Darjeeling tea, frequently called the “champagne of teas,” has musky-sweet tasting notes that are similar to muscat wine, although the tea may also exhibit delicate vegetal, mossy, fruity and citrus flavors.5
Darjeeling Tea’s Health Benefits
Promote antioxidant capabilities: Darjeeling tea is rich in two large, complex antioxidants called theaflavins and thearubigins.
These antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, and potentially reduce free radical damage that can target cell membranes and DNA and raise your risk for chronic illness.
Promote positive cardiovascular effects: Studies revealed that drinking black teas like Darjeeling tea helped reduce blood cholesterol levels, widen arteries, possibly increase blood flow to the organs and lower the risk for cardiovascular disease over time, although more research is needed to fully confirm this.
Improve bone health: Some compounds in Darjeeling tea may assist in increasing bone density.
Boost dental health: Black and green tea can reduce dental cavity formation by preventing the growth of a bacteria strain responsible for tooth decay called Streptococcus mutans, and inhibit the adherence of the bacteria to the surface of the teeth.
Help prevent obesity: Some studies on green and black teas have highlighted their anti-obesity effects in humans and animals. But according to a 2010 review, while the effects were real, the mechanisms are very poorly understood.
Address gastric ulcers: A 2011 experiment showed that some tea extracts exerted a positive effect on the Helicobacter pylori bacteria strain often linked to the development of stomach ulcers and gastric cancer.
The tea extracts were effective against the bacteria in vitro, without harming good bacteria needed for healthy digestion.
In particular, Darjeeling and white tea were considered effective even if they had a shorter exposure time compared to other teas.
While more human studies are needed, it’s possible that Darjeeling can provide an effective dietary support for the stomach.
Assist with diabetes prevention: A 2013 study linked black tea to controlling the post-meal spike in blood sugar levels commonly seen in people with Type 2 diabetes.
Improve gut health: Research indicated that black tea may make the gut more receptive to some bacteria needed for survival, and may assist in protecting the stomach and intestines from ulcers caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
Darjeeling Tea Nutrition Facts
Darjeeling tea is definitely worth a try because of its potential health benefits. Check out the nutritional information about this tea:
|Amt. Per |
|% Daily |
|Saturated Fat||0 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0 g|
|Trans Fat||0 g|
|Total Carbs||0 mg|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g|
|Vitamin A 0%||Vitamin C||0%|
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Is There Caffeine in Darjeeling Tea?
Yes there is, although the caffeine in darjeeling tea is usually just half the amount of a cup of coffee. This type of tea contains 40 to 70 milligrams of caffeine in an 8-ounce serving. This amount can change depending on the strength of the tea. However, remember that there are consequences linked to consuming excess amounts of caffeine (more on this to come later).9
Learn How to Brew and Serve Darjeeling Tea
Harvesting of Darjeeling tea leaves runs from mid-March through November. Darjeeling leaves are freshly plucked, withered overnight, rolled, and fermented or oxidized before being fired. The tea bushes progress through four seasons called “flushes,” with each flush offering a distinct flavor: first flush, second flush (summer), monsoon flush and autumn flush. As such, Darjeeling tea is often sold not only by single estate, but also by flush.10 Darjeeling tea may also be classified according to the size of the leaves, namely:11
• Whole Leaf Darjeeling Tea: Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (SFTGFOP) and Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (FTGFOP)
• Broken Leaf: Fine Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe (FTGBOP), Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe (TGBOP), Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe (FBOP) and Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP)
• Fannings: Golden Flowery Orange Fannings (GFOF) and Golden Orange Fannings (GOF)
• Dust (D)
To brew your own cup of Darjeeling tea at home, grab some tea leaves and follow this recipe:12
1. Heat your water to a boil, or just below a boil. You can inspect how oxidized your tea is first, Reduce the heat more for darker teas, and lower, to around 185 degrees Fahrenheit, for less-oxidized or earlier-season teas.
2. Preheat the vessel or kettle and rinse with a little hot water. Add a tablespoon of Darjeeling tea leaves per 8 ounces of water.
3. Steep the tea for three to five minutes depending on your taste. Try tasting it to check if you are satisfied with the flavor.
You can add grass fed milk or sweeteners like raw honey, stevia or Luo Han to taste. While Darjeeling tea is best without milk, some people prefer drinking milk with the tea, and especially when tasting Autumn flush.13 Just remember that dairy may diminish the potency of some of the antioxidants in the tea.
How to Store Darjeeling Tea
In order to prolong the shelf life of your Darjeeling tea, take note of these reminders:14
• Store in an airtight container: This helps make the tea last longer, maintains the optimal moisture content of the tea leaves, inhibits dust contamination, and prevents spoilage by exposure to excess moisture caused by oxygen and other elements in the air.
• Keep Darjeeling tea away from direct sunlight and warm temperature: Increased exposure to heat sources may affect the tea chemically and physically. This can make the tea more bitter flavor or degrade its flavor. Place the tea in a cool and dark cupboard or drawer, and ensure that this spot isn’t close to the oven, grill or any appliance that emits heat.
• Avoid mixing with any strong odors: Tea is susceptible to contamination when exposed to foods that emit strong odors such as cheese, garlic, onions and spices. Tea leaves are porous, and once they absorb odors, the flavor can be affected.
• Separate your blends: It’s highly recommended to not keep one type of tea close to another, especially those with strong flavors. Storing the leaves in a sealed container can inhibit cross-contamination. Plus, clearly label your jars so you do not mistakenly combine tea blends.
Darjeeling Tea Side Effects
There have been some side effects linked to Darjeeling tea. Caffeine present in Darjeeling tea can cause the following:
Feelings of nervousness
Increased or irregular heart rate
Worsened gastrointestinal conditions
Tremors in extremities
Excess caffeine consumption may also:15
• Trigger digestive tract problems by increasing acid in the stomach, potentially leading to an upset stomach
• Promote diuretic effects by eliminating more fluids via the urine, which can cause dehydration
• Cause diarrhea by stimulating muscles that may push waste through the digestive tract
• Contribute to physical and psychological dependence on the beverage
• Lead to hypokalemia or low blood potassium levels in the elderly
When taken in excess, tannins in black tea, which contribute to the drink’s color and slightly bitter flavor, can lead to an upset stomach or trigger nausea and vomiting. Furthermore, tannins can interfere with the absorption of non-heme iron found in plant-based foods. However, an article published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that drinking tea isn’t linked to an iron deficiency unless you’re already anemic or at a high risk for a deficiency.16
Before drinking Darjeeling tea, talk to your doctor to check if you can drink this beverage without triggering side effects. If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, limit your intake of caffeine from drinks like Darjeeling tea as much as possible, or opt for a decaffeinated version.17,18
Darjeeling Tea Delivers Potential Health Benefits
Some people may seem skeptical about buying Darjeeling tea, but when you consider the possible benefits you may get from the tea world’s answer to champagne, you just might be convinced. Like other types of tea, Darjeeling tea has the potential to boost your health and target and address certain conditions.
However, you should drink this tea in moderation because of its caffeine content, which can trigger side effects when consumed in excess. Consult a doctor first before drinking Darjeeling tea to prevent these unwanted consequences and allow you to reap the tea’s benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Darjeeling Tea
Q: What does Darjeeling tea do?
A: Because of its links to various health benefits, Darjeeling tea can be good for you. Darjeeling tea was shown to:
• Promote antioxidant properties and positive cardiovascular effects
• Improve bone, dental and gut health
• Help prevent obesity
• Alleviate gastric ulcers
• Aid in combatting diabetes
Q: Is Darjeeling tea caffeinated?
A: Yes. Darjeeling tea contains caffeine. An 8-ounce serving usually has 40 to 70 milligrams of caffeine, although the amount may change depending on the strength of the tea.
Q: Where can you buy Darjeeling tea?
A: If you’re fortunate to go on a trip to India, you can try going to the town of Darjeeling itself to buy authentic Darjeeling tea, which is considered a very prized souvenir.19 However, if this is not possible, try looking for a reputable website online that sells good-quality Darjeeling tea.
Note: When buying tea of any kind, make sure that it’s organic and grown in a pristine environment. The Camellia sinensis plant in particular is very efficient in absorbing lead, fluoride and other heavy metals and pesticides from the soil, which can then be taken up into the leaves. To avoid ingesting these dangerous toxins, a clean growing environment is essential, so that you can be sure you’re ingesting only pure, high-quality tea.