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Tea harvesting is hard work.
It is mainly women who pluck tea. Women are said to be better pluckers than men, as they are more detailed in their plucking. They pick only the top buds which give the best flavour. The men tend to be too rough in their plucking. A trained tea plucker can pluck between 30 and 35 kg of top buds per day. For the most beautiful teas, you pick two leaves and a bud – the middle leaf and the top two side leaves. Legend says that the best Darjeeling Teas – “The Champagne of Teas” – are picked with a virgin hand in the early morning.
There is a big difference between how much and how often a harvest takes place. In the low located areas, they harvest the entire year, while they only harvest four times a year on the slopes of the Himalayas. First flush, which is the first pluck after the tea bush has rested, is often said to be the best and finest pluck. The first Darjeeling pluck has always been eagerly awaited in the tea circles, and since the Clipper days, it has been subject of a contest of who could bring the first flush teas home the fastest. Today, there are often only four or five days, from the first pluck being harvested, and to finding it in Europe.