The Best Quality Tea In The World — Darjeeling

By- Durga Chettri Mukhia & Sanjoo Thangjam

There is a small Hill Station in West Bengal called Darjeeling at an elevation of 6800 feet above sea level.
It started off as a Summer Resort for the Britishers in 1838. They built Sanitoriums and Bungalows for officers in Darjeeling  to escape the summer heat of Kolkata and as a recovery centre for British Soldiers injured during the War.
A  winding road and small steam engine train line was built from Siliguri , the distance being around 78 kilometers to Transport Britishers and their Goods.
The Britishers mainly came to India for Trading and formed the East India Company, headquarters in Kolkata.
Mr Campwell was appointed Superintendent of Darjeeling.
As an Experiment, he planted some tea seeds in his garden which he had received from China via Kolkata. Since the plants came up well, he formed a Committee .The Chinese traders were not willing to part with huge number of seeds as they were monopolizing the tea market, the Britishers were faced with a Problem. They came up with an idea to give them Opium which they sourced from Afghanistan in exchange for tea seeds.
The Chinese were hooked to Opium and soon seeds were brought and planted in the Hilly areas of Darjeeling. Since the Britishers were not knowledgeable regarding Planting and Processing of Tea, Chinese were Bribed and brought to Darjeeling.
Soon labour was required in this sparse area and Nepali workers were brought from neighbouring Nepal to clear land, plant and pluck tea.
Quick development took place as the Britishers liked the cool climate which reminded them of their hometown in England.
Health Resorts, Hotels, Schools ,Clubs, Churches, etc were built due to the scenic beauty of the mighty Kanchanjunga Peak, the third highest peak in the world and surrounding snowy himalayan mountains.
Tea Plantations also started expanding in the Hills of Darjeeling.
The Tea Plants, maybe due to the cool climate, fertile soil and suitable elevation tasted very flavoury. Only the top 2 leaves and a bud are plucked from the bush. Harvesting of tea leaves is from March to October, it gets too cold in winter and plants do not grow.
Now in London where the tea auction was held, tea tasters found an extraordinary taste of the teas from Darjeeling. It had a very natural fruity and flavoury mild taste, they started comparing these teas to what Champagne is to Wine and what Scotch is to Whiskey.
Due to the cool climate and small size of the China tea bushes, the quantity is less.
Today, only 8 million Kgs are produced yearly in Darjeeling as compared to 1300 million Kgs Production in India.
There are 87 Tea Gardens in Darjeeling, most are small to medium size, like a Cottage Industry. The tea planters have fine tuned their plucking and manufacturing process which they have acquired over the years.
Today, Darjeeling Tea has been awarded GI ( Geographical Status ) by International body, which means this Outstanding Tea Quality comes from a Specific Region and has copyright, similar to Basmati Rice.
This Tea is a self drinking tea which means you drink it without milk and sugar to enjoy the flavour and taste.
Did you know who drinks these teas? Royals from England, Japan Brunei, Thailand , UAE are just few of the names.
Whenever a foreign dignitary visits India and a State Banquet is held, it is served in Rasthrapati Bhawan, since it is a pride of India. Today, the tea fraternity of the world has accepted this as a unique and outstanding tea in the world.
In 2019 , one Kg of Darjeeling Tea was sold at Rs 2 lacs a Kg by Tea Box Company.

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