Now its 2012 Darjeeling First Flush tea season going on and we are receiving a lot of tea samples. We lay them on a table, label it (sometimes we do blind tasting as well) and do the tea tasting. After tasting, we categorize each Darjeeling Tea as bad, mediocre or quality tea. We often skip teas which we don’t like and only aim at procuring what soothes best to our palate and liking. Sometimes I ponder upon this very “choosing” factor of tea and reflect upon all the hard and manual labor put into making each gram of tea which we easily brew in the comfort of our homes. This often shadows my thoughts with a feeling of guilt to call any tea as ‘bad tea’ compared to the tremendous hard work put in its making.
During the peak First Flush time which is just starting in Darjeeling , most of the Darjeeling Teas are, on the average, good teas, but when compared to one another, the gradation of quality occurs. The best of teas get manufactured with utmost care and round the clock vigilance. During peak quality time, Darjeeling tea garden managers are seen going to the factory even during odd hours at night just to inspect the processing. There are even stories of managers sleeping inside the factory so that none of the errors occur due to the time stipulated in each of the phases of tea processing. Usually a day’s tea processing starts very early in the morning and by the time we are brushing our teeth, its probably over. Its an effort which circles and includes fairly large number of people – starting with the tender plucking of tea leaves by the women tea laborers to the time it drops into those tea chests or tea sacks.
The hardest part I believe is the manual tea pickings done on unimaginable steeply slopes. This post got its germinating roots as I stood on top of one of the tea gardens which was almost at a 45 degree angle (photo above). It was really hard to balance oneself walking and I stopped and pondered – what skill and effort is needed to pick tea leaves standing on a 45 degree angle. Not to forget the tender plucking they have to do! Thats one hard labor which needs years of skillful experience and we do the reclining, sipping away thinking poetry!
I wish I had the capability of buying all the Darjeeling Teas sampled to us and promote it! Do my small part!
Yes, we are tasting 2012 First Flush Darjeeling Teas at the moment. We will soon update to this blog once done. In the meantime, we highly appreciate your patience and the trust you have laid in us. We are doing our best to serve you the best of what Darjeeling offers!
Have a great day!