Friday, March 30, 2007

Castleton Tea Estate

On the 29th of March, I visited the famous Castleton Tea Estate, actually we have a huge order from one of our most valuable Japanese customer, I reached the garden at around 10:00am and it was really very hot so the production was massive but the black teas seemed a bit too dry and the green leafs were covered with blackish shade so it clearly indicated that we were approaching the mid 1st Flush period, I also met many foreign buyers at the garden and they were all in a hurry to buy their stocks for first flush as this is the ultimate time and after this the prices will go very low but anyone can imagine the quality too….

I was also interested in an invoice but the next morning when I re-tasted the tea I just cancelled as the tea was getting really bitter but I am sure the gardens really knows how to sell its teas…anyways there was a big company from America who wanted to overbid and buy my White tea but again it was not possible for him as our company had already booked this invoice long time back, anyways regarding the Moonlight tea, I am very excited to offer this limited edition tea as this tea will be highly appreciated by tea lovers who were waiting for this invoice.

I am not sure for how long I can offer this White exotica as this tea is produced in a very less quantity, it's the Castleton Moonlight/White On the Ex-4………….

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Darjeeling 1st Flush, 2007

Well today is 12th of March and for the last 2-4 days the temperature is a bit stable, so many gardens will have raw leafs in a much better quantity, many gardens have come up with very good early First Flush season teas but mostly they have made in smaller lots as the temperature which is of coarse very important for tea growing was not favorable….I’ve been traveling to gardens with my European friends(my buyers) and we have together brought many superb teas, but these teas are for their customers so I cannot offer everything in our website…..also on the other side I’ve been clogged with mails about First Flush teas and I know how curious are my clients as I’ve kept them waiting for a very long time till now…well please have patience! I’ll definitely have the best of the crops as usual, I had again called up the Margaret’s hope factory assistant Manager Mr.Rawat today and he has confirmed me that our china invoice will be ready by Monday, I asked him why are they taking such a long time? The answer was first of all Margaret’s Hope T.E. has one of the highest tea growing sectors in Darjeeling and usually it’s a late 1st Flush starter and another factor is that the garden authority knows what type of clientele we deal with and above all the relations that we have with all the tea estates that when they say they have made 1st Flush teas for us then they mean it, where no winter or any sort of copper leaves will be mixed, which most of the Merchant around the globe suffer from, as it took 3 generations for us to understand each phenomenon( change) of the leaf types with the changing seasons…

All these days I’ve been either visiting gardens or been tasting different teas till my tongue went numb……but when the date crossed 16th of March 2007, I changed my thoughts regarding great tea gardens, now I started looking for teas which are more greenish in appearance, (the actual character of First Flush) more floral and less bitter in taste so I again started calling up gardens and asked them to present their samples, when suddenly on the 17th of March 2007 Mr.J.C.Pande (Manager) of Barnesbeg plantation came up with one of his excellent china invoice sample, I immediately laid my tea tasting sets and I was surprised with the end result as this garden was known for its heavy and dark liquor teas ,but this time it was totally different the cup was very light and the aroma was pleasant and the overall cup quality was superb as the after taste ended with full floral and sweet notes, so there was no looking back or waiting for another sample this time, I immediately confirmed the lot and I made sure to have all the teas they had in this invoice ,I must say tea making in Darjeeling is getting competitive each day as all the gardens are coming up with great teas and innovative ideas of making great teas each season, but again I `m proud to have the EX-1 invoice which is the 1st lot of the china type from Barnesbeg Tea Estate …….

Tea Tasting at Thurbo Garden (Mr. T.Gupta with Rajiv)

On the evening of 19th March 2007, I was called up by Mr. A.Gurung (Asst.Manager factory) of Thurbo Tea Estate and was invited to visit the garden on the 21st of March 2007, I was excited to visit the Thurbo tea garden which has a reputation of producing the most aromatic and high quality Darjeeling tea standards in Darjeeling…….so on the particular day I took my camera by my side and left for the gardens, when I reached the garden another surprise was waiting for me! And that is: I met Mr.T.Gupta (Senior Manager of the Garden) who is also a legendary tea maker in Darjeeling, I was nervous to join the tea tasting with him, to be very honest I didn’t know what should I comment in front of him ……… I was introduced to him by the Assistant Manager of the Garden and he started asking me several questions, I don’t know actually what I answered him as I was a bit scared if I would speak out some wrong ideas in front of this tea guru, but every thing settled down when I spoke out my love and experiences regarding clonal teas in First Flush season and it seemed he was impressed! Anyways after that around 8 invoice samples were laid at the tasting room and he invited me to start with the tasting……I started with Dj-2 (which was already sold) the cup was great but the orange liquor didn’t not impress me so much as I was there for traditional 1st Flush teas ,then I tried Dj-4 which was a clonal invoice too but for me it was a bit roasted, we can say this tea will mature well in future but I was scared that even the roasted character in the tea would get pronounced with time so I ignored this tea too, then I tasted several other invoice samples but I was just not satisfied , so they asked me to try some of the White tea they had made, the craftsmanship of this tea was beautiful ,the cup was great but I’m not very fond of Green teas so for me this was just like relaxing my tongue for another round of tea tasting, after sometime they offered me their best clonal invoice which consisted of 70% AB-2 clone and Phoobshering 132 clone, the tea looked great in its dry leaf state as every little leaf looked greenish and consisted a lot of silver tips in it, I asked them to set a brew for me with this tea, and when the tea was ready I was stunned! The infused leafs were very even which means the rolling was perfect in the tea and the aroma was mouth watering……when the tea slightly cooled I took an immediate sip in the cup and I think I had one of the best sip of great teas in my life, the aroma of the tea was very refreshing and had clear hints of raw juicy fruits and the most appealing thing was the after taste as the balance of the briskness with the aroma in the tea was so perfect that it made the tongue go heavy and would stick with it….so again there was no saying no to this tea and I just jumped for this invoice and they could not deny as of coarse due to my company name behind me……I’m sure all my tea connoisseur customers would appreciate the tea very much and I’m very glad to have Thurbo (ftgfop-1) Tippy Clonal Dj-6………….

Thurbo Manager and Rajiv

Friday, March 9, 2007

Darjeeling 1st Flush, 2007

Well, its going smooth till now, when on the evening of 25th of February, it started raining again and it was a bit obvious that the temperature was again very low and it again created complications for the new shoots and buds to grow rapidly, I woke up next morning and sat on the lawn with a pot of Lingia Muscatel 2nd Flush, which is one of my favorite morning tea as its really very pronounced with its character, and looked at the sky and asked “now what”? as I was hoping that the last week of February would be fully sunny and we would have a better temperature average and this would lead us to the maximum production of early 1st Flush crop, this is very important as many Merchant claim to sell First Flush but every one is not lucky enough to have the early crop which is rare and reflects the original character of the garden, after the long winters.

On 27th morning I was really curious so again called up few gardens, firstly I called up Mr. Jha (Suptd.) of the Jayshree group for Sungma, Risheehat and Balasun Tea Estates, as I had already tasted some Risheehat pre-First Flush on the 2nd week of February, which was a pure winter crop and not anything close to a First Flush type and I had ignored the invoice, but I was more curious about Sungma tea which is the best garden of this group but again this tea garden is not very famous for First Flush as it’s a late riser meaning it starts its First Flush from mid-March when other Gardens are almost going towards mid First Flush, well he told me that they have just started a first round plucking and the temperature is moving between 10-15 degrees Celsius to the maximum during the day and 6-7 degree Celsius to the minimum at night, so this clearly means the 1st invoice will be produced during 11th-15th of March and a very good invoice would take at least one more week from this given time.

Soon after that I got a very important news from the superintendent of Puttabong and North Tukvar that they have almost cleared the winter leaves and they are getting the new shoots and buds of First Flush 2007,well the temperature is also good as its moving towards 18-19 degrees Celsius at the morning and this is very good for the Puttabong Tea estate as it is situated on the proper Darjeeling hills, so we can expect very good clonals within 10th of March and the china types might take a week or so more …….

Also, there is a very Good news from the Thurbo Tea estate situated at the Mirik valley, that the temperature is ranging from 15-19 degrees Celsius during the day which will add a cupid more for its exclusive “tippy clonal” teas, but at night its dropping to 4-5 degrees Celsius as this garden also has some highest altitude clonal fields, but that does not matter as we are sure that we`ll have an exclusive invoice from this Garden within next week. …………………..

Well, from the 4th of March things were turning towards better, even the night temperatures were rising, so we were expecting very good clonal crops, I was keeping a very close look on the Puttabong invoices as they had a good Autumn crop last year and the first two china type invoices was better after the trail crops but in this period of time the quantity of each invoice is very limited as it’s the exclusive tender shoots and buds that are used to create this world class Darjeeling teas…..but we had already booked an invoice in advance which was of course a clonal line ,so on the morning of 7th March, Mr.Somani the Superintendent of Puttabong T.E. gave me a call and said that they had manufactured a superb clonal invoice and asked me to taste the sample and decide very quickly or they would send the sample to their European buyers also.

My curiosity was growing with the clock ticking beside me, finally the sample arrived, and I immediately took out the aluminum foil and threw the tea over it, Oh! Man, the tea is made of 50% silver tips and the second leaf with bright shine on it, I laid the tasting set with the sand timer for tasting the tea immediately and after a perfect brew I left the tea to cool down to 80 degrees Celsius (which is a perfect temperature to drink good black teas), I sniffed into the infused leaves and it just smelled fresh floral notes without any grassy smell in it and the silver tips had unfolded to exotic floral aroma, I immediately took a full sip into the cup and didn’t feel like throwing it out of my mouth as the tea was very aromatic, very delicate briskness due to its clonal character and the after taste was amazing as it would make a tea lover tongue go heavy after tasting……

the major constituents of this supreme tea is RR -17/144 clone ( for the mellow character and sharpness) and AB – 2 clone (for floral aroma) and above all this superb tea is grown at an elevation over 3500 feet above sea level and this clonal exotica is known as the Puttabong clonal queen sftgfop-1 ,Invoice no:DJ-4.

On the 8th of March I was invited to the Singbulli Tea Estate as this garden makes the best AB-2 clonal teas in the mirik valley area,on the 9th of March I took my camera and went to the garden, it really feels nice to go across the Mirik valley as its very green all around the place, anyways I finally reached the garden around 9:30am and had a breakfast with the Manager and his wife of Singbulli Tea Estate(Mr & Mrs Mantri), well I was eager to taste the teas, we went to the factory below the Manager`s bungalow, some of the china and assam variety teas were shown but those did not fit my taste buds, I don`t understand how people admire Singbulli`s First Flush china type variety teas , well must admit it’s the best alternative at this period of time as it’s the cheapest tea around, well coming back to the point,

I was left speechless when they showed me their clonal delight,as the tea was made out of 80% silver unopened buds,but unlike a White tea , this tea is slightly fermented,but again this is rare and this does not happen every day, as this is the best tea I ever tried after the Silver tips Imperial tea from Makaibari that I had tasted some 2-3years back when it made a world record for Darjeeling teas… anyways I wanted the teas by any means, but again trouble was not leaving by my side as a Japanaese buyer was also there to buy the tea, so the Manager had asked me to wait till 10th of March, so that the other buyer could place her bid for the tea, but luckily she could not come any close to my bid and I got the tea confirmed and I`m proud to have the Best tea in the world and its called the Singbulli Clonal Delight(Reserve), well the quantity is very less as this type of tea is rare but anyways I can bet my trade on this! We have the absolute best First Flush Darjeeling tea in the world.