India's tea industry is well known and it is actually helpful that many of its most popular teas are named for their growing regions. The most well-known areas are Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri. Lesser known, but still substantial, tea producing regions are Dooars and Sikkim.
Assam is a state in the northeastern part of India. As one of the world's largest tea growing region, more than half of all the tea grown in India comes from Assam. In 1823, a wild tea plant that stood 60 feet high was found here. Assam can be harvested from March into December. Teas from Assam are known for being malty and bold. They are often part of "breakfast blends."
Darjeeling lies approximately 120 miles east of Assam in West Bengal, India. The British began growing tea in Darjeeling in the mid-1800s. Tea from this region has become known as the "Champagne of Tea" and it is characterized by a muscatel flavor. First flush Darjeelings are picked in March and April. Second flush is picked in May and June. The autumnal harvest is in September. Darjeeling teas are often orthodox (produced by hand, rather than by machine) and they are highly valued.
Dooars is also in the northern part of India, to Assam's west. These teas don't have as specific or notable a flavor profile. This is partially due to the fact that Dooars tea grows at a much lower elevation than Assam, Darjeeling, or Nilgiri.
Nilgiri is located in southwestern India is also known as the Blue Mountains. With a rainfall of more than 80" a year, tea has thrived here for many decades. These teas can sometimes be more bracing than others, but other Nilgiris are quite smooth. During some seasons, Nilgiri teas have a slight lemon flavor.
Sikkim is north of West Bengal in the Himalayas. These teas may remind you of Darjeelings but often also have more fruity notes.
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