Darjeeling tea is grown in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, an area bound by Nepal to the west, Bhutan to the east, and Sikkim to the north. The Tea Board of India defines "Darjeeling Tea" as having "been cultivated, grown, produced, manufactured and processed in tea gardens in the hilly areas of Sadar Subdivision, only hilly areas of Kalimpong District, and Kurseong subdivision of the District of Darjeeling in the State of West Bengal, India." The tea gardens are located on the hillsides of the Eastern Himalaya, between 600 and 2,000 meters in elevation. That physical geography of the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal, results in the land experiencing cool air with dry winter months from November to February followed by monsoon weather in the summer months between July and September. The subtropical and wet temperate forest cover that developed under these conditions left slightly acidic loamy soils with high organic materials.
Being on steep slopes, the soil is well-drained and deep enough for long root systems, necessary for anchoring soil on slopes. Being on the sides of the hills, at high elevations where cool dry air interacts with warm moist air, there can be persistent fog or cloud cover during the growing months. These are ideal conditions for the Camellia Sinensis plant which flourishes with well-drained, slightly acidic soils, with periods of dormancy, and limited direct sunlight.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor