Darjeeling Tea, the first product in India to receive a GI Tag

Darjeeling Tea, the first product in India to receive a GI Tag

Geographical Indications-Darjeeling tea

The idea of trade, and what makes trade valuable for societies, has evolved .The economic transition to the modern trading system demands a regulatory mechanism, which did not comply with the traditional ways of trading. The World Trade Organization (WTO), global international organization, provides the instrument to augment smooth, predictable and free trade flows between nations.

The TRIPS Agreement under WTO, adopted in 1994, plays a critical role in facilitating trade in knowledge and creativity, in resolving trade disputes over intellectual property, and in assuring WTO members the scope to achieve their domestic objectives .This was important as trading of goods today, is not confined to shipping of goods only, but comprises an entire system of innovation, creativity and branding. 

A geographical indication (GI), under TRIP, is a name or sign used on products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). It acts as a certification of the products bearing the unique physiognomies and the tradition of the place of origin.Appellation of origin is a subtype of geographical indication where the complete spectrum of the production- quality, method and reputation strictly originate from the allocated area defined under its intellectual property right registration.

Why is GI important?

Geographical indications present a remarkable marketing potential in terms of product branding. It provides a competitive edge to the local products in the international market through an added value and forms a basis of identity .By generating a premium brand price; they contribute to local employment and a safe haven for new business enterprise and other GIs in the region. It also helps in economic resilience by preventing or minimizing the external shock affecting the price percentage. Preservation of natural resources essential for the production, the traditional knowhow and ultimately the environment is other impacts of the GIs. Geographical Indications, does not only provision product imprinting but the entire region acting as catalyst for tourism. The outlined impacts are not guaranteed and depends on an interplay of available conditions at the GIs applied areas.

Is GI only for agricultural goods?

Majority of the GIs throughout the world are applied to agricultural product as they are influenced by specific local, geographical factors such as climate and soil. In recent years, the human expertise that is used in the place of origin, such as specific manufacturing skills and traditions are also entitled to the GIs. That is the case, for instance, for handicrafts, which are generally handmade using local natural resources and usually embedded in the traditions of local communities. 

Darjeeling tea –GI tag

Government of India enacted Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act in 1999(Came into force in 2003).The journey began with Darjeeling tea around 2004-2005. So far total of 320 products have been given GI status in India.

Darjeeling tea with its distinctness of flavour and colour from the others rose to fame and was patronized by tea connoisseurs across the world. It required protection as duplication was rampant under its name in the global market and marring its genuineness. The first step to obtaining this protection for Darjeeling tea began in 1983, by the creation of a logo as a certification trademark. The GI tag which came in effort in 2004 was able to save the long heritage of Darjeeling tea by providing it an authentic marker. This culminated into reaping various benefits for the tea and the entire region like-steady growth curve, consolidation of ownership, new investments and workers plights. 

Tea as an antioxidant

Tea as an antioxidant

Expended for thousands of years and assimilating many cultures, tea has been the source of delicious medicinal benefits around the globe.

Let’s have some tea and unravel this magical drink.

Teas produced from the Camellia sinesis plant contain natural antioxidants which protects cells against the damaging effects of free radicals

Deciphering free radicals

Free radicals are reactive atom or group of atoms that has one or more unpaired electrons that is produced in the body by natural biological processes or introduced from an outside source (such as tobacco smoke, toxins, or pollutants).The unpaired electrons seek out chemical structures in our bodies from where they can steal an electron and damage the structure/tissue. This damage produces array of negative health effects: degenerative diseases, premature ageing, inflammation, heart disease, etc. There are three ways to minimizing the damage- environmentally through avoiding pollution, radiation etc.(which is near impossible); neutralizing of free radicals by anti-oxidants  and increasing the elimination of cells damaged by free radicals.

How do antioxidants ‘neutralize’ free radicals?

An antioxidant is a molecule stable enough to donate an electron to a raging free radical .This stabilizes the free radical and breaks the process of cell damage caused by stealing the electrons. In other words antioxidants deter oxidation, a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals.The antioxidants acting in the defense systems act at different levels such as preventive, radical scavenging, repair and de novo, and adaptation 

The most common antioxidants are beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamins A, C and E. Antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables and also teas is the most nutritious way to obtain them, as believed by experts.

All teas contain numerous different chemicals which act as antioxidants. Darjeeling tea is the powerhouse of antioxidants as well.

Green and white teas are rich in chemicals called catechins, a type of flavonoid. The catechins include epicatechin (EC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epigallocatechin gallate. They have the potential to prevent different kinds of cancers, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and many other serious diseases. The catechins generally impart an astringent quality and a bitter taste to tea. Green tea also contains a small amount of Vitamin C, an antioxidant which is also an essential nutrient. 

When tea is oxidized, the catechins are converted into other chemicals, called theaflavins and thearubigins, different chemicals which still act as antioxidants. The oxidation process changes the relative amounts of catechins vs. theaflavins and thearubigins, but does not necessarily result in a lower total antioxidant content. The theaflavins and thearubigins, found in black and oolong teas are called tannins which impart them the darker color  and good for keeping the arteries free of fat, therefore, promoting good heart health.

Release the trepidation when you hold your tea, as it is a magical potion to life!

Tea Grading

Darjeeling teas are graded by the size and quality of the tea leaves. Within each type and flavor of Darjeeling tea, the grade becomes a major factor to determine the the final price of the tea sold. Darjeeling tea fall into four basic groups: whole leaf, broken leaf, fannings, and dust.

We at Darjeeling Tea Direct offer you the finest darjeeling tea which falls into whole leaf and broken leaf categories (upto TGBOP).

1.Whole leaf

SFTGFOP: Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe indicates it contains whole leaf and many tips. It is long and wiry in appearance. The liquors are lighter in colour. 

FTGFOP: Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe

TGFOP: Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe

2.Broken leaf consists of small tea leaves or pieces of large leaves.

FTGBOP: Fine Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe

TGBOP: Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe

FBOP: Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe

BOP: Broken Orange Pekoe

3.Fannings consists of even smaller leaf sizes than the brokens.

GFOF: Golden Flowery Orange Fannings

GOF: Golden Orange Fannings

4. Dust, the lowest grade, consists of small pieces of tea leaves and tea dust.

D: Dust

Amazing reuses of tea leaves

Tea being the most sought after beverage in the world after water does not limit itself only for its consumptional value. Known throughout for its health and medicinal benefits, the utility of used tea leaves can be massive too!

Improve the Nature of your Soil:

Most of the nutrients though may have been consumed in the first brew of tea, you may still have some left that you can put to use. Tea contains tannic acid which helps in the speedy decomposition of the soil and acts as a natural fertilizer. Some acid loving plants like tomatoes and roses flourish a great deal when sprinkled used tea leaves  at the base.

Reduce Humidity:

  Place the sun dried tea leaves at a corner of your room to reduce excess humidity.

Neutralize bad odors:

Place some used green tea leaves from your cup in a bowl and leave it in your refrigerator. It cuts down even the strong smell of garlic and onion. Also try used tea bags in the fridge instead of baking soda to absorb odors. Green tea also removes odors from your hands. Rinse your hands with green tea after eating or preparing stinky foods like fish etc and have your hands smell fresh and clean.

Natural Pesticide:

Sprinkle the infusion from the used tea leaves at the base of your plants and avoid garden pests like mice and other bugs whilst improving the quality of your soil. The infusion also protects your plants from fungal infections.

 Cleaning:

The high percentage of tannins in black tea makes up for an amazing flavor but also are great in shining hardwood floors. Don’t use too much water and rub some used tea leaves brew on hardwood flooring and let it air dry. Also dip a soft cloth to wipe and shine your wooden furniture and sparkle your mirrors and windows. You may use a spray bottle as well. Surprisingly, tea bags have been known to remove the stains in the bottom of the toilet bowl. Leave them in the toilet for several hours, then flush the toilet and brush the bowl.

Soothe Burns and Scratches:

The compress from used tea leaves relieves and speeds up the recovery of burning sensation and minimizes redness from sunburn. It further soothes the pain of pinkeye and razor burn. Tea can help relive itchiness and redness from a bee sting or bug bite. Warm wet teabags on your eyes reduces tired puffy eyes which may look less ridiculous than cucumber slices.

Deodorize your shoes:

Put sun dried tea leaves in a muslin cloth and tie the ends properly. Place it near the toes on the sole of a stinky shoe to absorb moisture that has a bad smell. Relax by soaking your feet in strong tea for 20 minutes regularly to reduce foot odor.

Freshen your breath:

Cool your third or fourth brew green tea for mouthwash. Fluorides present in tea strengthens your tea and is effective against cavities and gingivitis. Gargling with strong tea help reduce halitosis. Thus, stay confident and keep smiling.

How does Actual tea vary from Herbal tea?

Drinking tea is a great way to start our day in an elated mood or to unwind after a day at the office. But can we call a cup of aromatic cinnamon brew as “TEA”. Precisely, the answer is NO!!!

For a drink to be “tea” it should come from the leaves of the tea bush (Camellia sinensis).In the cinnamon brew, it is not the actual leaves but made from herbs brewed in water. White tea, green tea, black tea and oolong tea all come under the umbrella of real tea. The difference between them pertains to the way they are processed (more in other blurb of the website).

Herbal tea is a generic term used for any beverage made by steeping flowers, roots, leaves, and bark from plants other than Camellia sinensis. “Herbal infusion” may be the better term to use because herbal teas do not actually have tea leaves from the tea plant. Tisane, is the other word that been popularized in the tea world to draw a clear demarcations.

Succinctly there are three things that separate real tea from tisanes/herbal tea

1. Actual tea contains caffeine while most herbal teas don’t contain caffeine.

2. Tea leaves are rich in antioxidants –catechins, thearubigins, epicatechins which have several health benefits. Whereas the antioxidant in herbal teas depends on the choice of ingredients and the amount of herb used to make the drink.

3.  Actual teas come in four varieties whereas herbal teas can be many depending on our needs-for   instance chamomile, rooibos, mint, cinnamon, ginger, and lemon to name a few.

Sometimes to get away with the mundane taste and aroma of tea, we tend to add some spices from over the kitchen counter. The market is also flooded with such varietal of teas. What are these concoction called? Are they herbal tea as they use herbs as well for the flavorful play? They are popular under the name of Blended Teas which uses one or combination of actual tea as their base. Tea is hydrophilic (“water-loving”), so it absorbs the moisture and aroma/flavor of the added herbs/fruits /flower. The quality of the tea plays a major role in the flavor of tea and not just the added ingredients. Therefore, blended teas which contain actual pieces of added ingredients, depends on the quality of the actual tea that has been used.

Flavours and Seasons of Darjeeling Tea

The flavours of Darjeeling tea is very much dependent on the various seasons tea is harvested in the gardens. Generally, Darjeeling tea is harvested between the months of March and November. These months are further classified into different tea seasons commonly known as Flushes. Each flush has its own unique blend and characteristics of tea irrespective of the same type, upon which the prices of tea vary.

First Flush:

First Flush Darjeeling tea is in high demand. It also has a romantic name as the Lover’s Blush. After the winter months, the tea leaves are harvested in mid March following the spring rains often lasting through April. The tea leaves are light green in color and the tea has a gentle, light color aromatic acetic flavor.

Second Flush:

Also known as the world renowned summer tea, production for Second Flush Darjeeling tea runs through the month of May and June. This period  brings out the popular ‘muscatel flavour’ which is the main flavor in demand.  It has a mature and mellow brew. The color of the infusion becomes purplish. 

Monsoon or Rain Flush:

Produced during the rainy season between July and September the liquor is darker, bolder and stronger. Monsoon teas is commonly used in iced tea, masala chai, breakfast blend and commercial tea bag tea. 

Autumnal Flush:

Tea leaves produced during the month of October to November imparts a delicate, silvery gentle coppery glow and less spicy tones on the tea liquor. It has a mix of green tea leaves with that of blackish or brown colors.

The choice between various individuals amongst the various flushes depends on one’s palate liking. Some like it strong while others like it light. The flavors also will vary accordingly  from one season one field and also different days.

Difference between White, Green, Black and Oolong Tea

We all love our cup of freshly brewed tea. But do we know our tea? This blurb will take you through a short journey of understanding your tea.

Tea falls in the four large categories namely, white tea, green tea, black tea, and oolong tea. They all come from the Camellia Sinesis plant and referred as ‘real tea’ in the glossary of the tea world. The difference between them is mainly determined by the level of oxidation that takes place after the harvesting of the tea leaves. Oxidation is a chemical process whereby the compounds in the cells of tea leaves are exposed to oxygen in the atmosphere during rolling of tea. This greatly impacts the appearance, flavor and chemical composition of the leaves. With the change of color, from green to black, the taste also changes drastically. Tea is a good source of flavonoids antioxidants called catechin. As the levels of catechins decrease during oxidation, the levels of other antioxidant flavonoids like theaflavins and thearubigins increases.

White Tea

White tea is the least processed of all types of teas. It is not (or hardly) oxidized which helps in retaining high level of catechin than green or back tea and lower level of tannins. In this tea only the buds and young leaves of the plant are used which are dried in natural sunlight and are not steamed or fried. White tea typically has a very mild, sweet and somewhat flowery taste with the level of caffeine also being low. 

Green Tea

Green tea is made from mature tea leaves that undergo multiple stages of frying or steaming. The leaves retain their natural green color because of minimal level of oxidation .Most of the antioxidants in green tea are catechin. Green tea often has a somewhat grassy, or earthy, taste

Black tea

Aptly referring to the color of its leaves, acquired through the process of full oxidation, it is called black tea. The leaves are withered (dried), which triggers the oxidation process, and then crushed. They are processed in either of two ways, CTC (Crush, Tear, and Curl) or orthodox. Black tea is usually graded on one of four scales of quality. Whole-leaf teas are the highest quality, with the best whole-leaf teas graded as “orange pekoe.” After the whole-leaf teas, the scale degrades to broken leaves, fannings, and then dusts. China and India is major black tea producer, with Darjeeling tea being one of the most popular and well-known black teas.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea is usually slightly more oxidized than green tea, but less than traditional black tea. Similarly, caffeine levels in oolong tea are typically higher than in green tea, but perhaps not as high as in black tea. Tea leaves for oolong tea are traditionally rolled, curled and twisted. This process has an impact on color and aroma of the final tea leaves which are why there are different varieties of oolong teas.

Teasing apart tea benefits

Benefits of Black tea

Tea has been treasured for thousands of years, as an elixir for life and panacea for all illness. The emerging role of scientific research today has piqued our interest in the health benefits of tea.

  The below text is excerpted from “Tea Benefits: A Research Wrap-Up” by Berkeley Wellness.  

  • Cardiovascular health. Many (but not all) observational studies have found that people who consume moderate or high amounts of green or black tea (or flavonoids from all dietary sources) have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and, especially, stroke—usually with higher consumption linked to greater benefit. Furthermore, most research has shown that tea can slightly lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as improve blood vessel functioning, reduce inflammation, inhibit blood clotting and have other cardiovascular effects. 
  • Cancer. There are many theories as to how tea polyphenols may have anti-cancer effects—for instance, by inducing cell suicide in cancer cells and by inhibiting insulin growth factor (a protein involved with cell proliferation). However, there is insufficient support for claims that tea can help prevent or treat any cancer.
  • Diabetes. Most research has linked green or black tea or compounds in tea (such as catechins) to improved blood sugar control or reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. For instance, a 2012 study in BMJ Open looked at data from 50 countries and found that high consumption of black tea was strongly associated with a reduced diabetes risk. 
  • Weight control. It’s theorized that tea catechins and caffeine help boost fat burning, at least slightly and temporarily. A 2013 analysis of data from the large National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey linked tea consumption with lower weight and smaller waist size
  • Brain health and mood. Lab studies support the potential role of tea in improving cognitive function. For instance, in a study in Japan in 2006 and one in China in 2008, older people who regularly drank green tea were found to have a reduced risk of cognitive impairment compared to nondrinkers. Tea may help to enhance concentration and learning ability because of its theanine (an amino acid), which at the same time promotes relaxation. 
  • Parkinson’s disease. A 2008 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who drank the most black tea—but not green tea—had a much lower risk of Parkinson’s disease than nondrinkers. According to a paper in the Annual Review of Nutrition in 2013, human and lab studies suggest that tea or constituents in it may help protect against Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. 
  • Bone health. Lab studies show that tea polyphenols have beneficial effects on factors affecting bone mass and bone strength and thus may help protect against osteoporosis. Bones may also benefit from the fluoride in tea. 
  • Dental health. Researchers have found that tea has antibacterial effects and thus may reduce levels of bacteria that cause cavities and contribute to gum disease. Like bones, teeth may benefit from the fluoride in tea. At least two Japanese studies have linked green tea consumption with a reduced risk of tooth loss.

Are you inspired to incorporate fresh tea into your daily wellness routine?