can you compare the taste of green and black tea? hardly - so this is an article about tea growing and processing in darjeeling and japan, not about the flavour. there is no loser or winner, but the interested tea-addict finds a few info that he probably did not know before.
tea in darjeeling
from darjeeling comes the best tea of india. for many tea-lovers are the first flush and second flush from here the best black tea at all.
from this perspective comes the following citiation:
"darjeeling, the champagne among teas"
particularly upscale are the unblended pickings of only one day (invoices) and the teas of a single tea estate. also the harvest of high-altitude tea gardens are especially respected. there are locations on more than 2.000 meters/6.500 feet. in this environment grow very special tees, because of the combination of intensive sunshine and low temperatures.
harvested is exclusively by hand. only by this labour-intensive picking it is possible, to get two leaves and the bud, which are needed for high quality darjeeling tea.
blends from more than one teagarden or from different regions (for example darjeeling and assam) are often less well classiefied. anymore approbriates this to fannings and dust, the teas with the smallest particles. they are used für cheap teabags, or sold on the indian market for masala chai.
partly this classification is correct, but invoices and single estate teas can also be of low quality, for example when the weather is to cold, dry or to rainy. about blending it is possibel to compensate such ups and downs.
tea in japan
similar to darjeeling in black tea, is japan in green tea one of the best growing regions.
for some tea adicts is japan the best producer of green tea.
who drunk japanese teas like sencha, kabusecha, gyokuro or matcha knows, that they can be very good! their umami flavor is nearly unique. only a very small number of teas outside japan have this aroma. the artificial shading of tea fields stands alone.
besides the preparing of tea, especially matcha, is exceptional. no other country has a higher developed tea culture.
one might now suspect, that singel estate teas, hand harvest and cultivation in high altitude are natural.
mostly the tea is not hand-picked, but with greater or less harvesters. japan is an industrial country with high wages. so high technical aids are used to save costs. only absolute high end teas are harvested by hand.
the tea gardens are also not continuous in mountainous altitude, but on lowlands and flat fields. so it is easy for the harvesters to bring in the tea. exactly two leaves and the bud you can not pick in this way.
many teas, also premium ones, are also blends. the first part of teaproduction is made by little teafarmers. they produce up to the stage of aracha, a half-done tea. those arachas are sold to greater teafirms, who finish the production to sencha, gyokuro, kabusecha ... . therfore they blend the arachas from many different little teafarmers.
the predominantly japanese teas are not picked by hand and are not single estate teas, but blends!
the crumbs that are incurred even in the production of japanese teas, are sold as konacha (crumb-tea), and achieve, depending on quality of the maintea, relatively high prices. the counterpart in black tea are the fannings and dust teas.
interesting: the usually estimated leaf buds are sorted out in japan partially, and are also sold separately as mecha. but not as fine tea, but as cheaper tea similar to konacha. pure buds as tea which are prepared in china for example, are expensive rarities.
purely according to the cultivation and processing methods, japanese tea is not a really high end product, at least according to the standards of the rest of the tea world.
invoice, single estate tea, or better yet a blend?
there are different ways to produce well done teas. darjeelings makes it in this way, japan in the other way. but just the hand-picking is seen as a universal quality feature. similarly one makes it in darjeeling, china, and also in japan it is done in the high-priced varieties.
it is also possible to produce fine teas by machine harvest, but here it is mostly the need to economize.
moreover one should reconsider its opinion to blends. in japan teas are prepared by blending, so it is also possibel to produce good blends in darjeeling and throughout india.
important is, that good qualities are used, and that the tea tastes you.