Friday, November 2, 2007

A visit to Thurbo Tea Estate for autumn tea

Thurbo Tea Estate

On the 1st of November`07 I was invited at the Thurbo Tea Garden, one of my favorite tea estate, though this garden is famous for its exclusive young teas better known as the Tippy clonals, But please note this is the autumn harvest and the main point to be noted is that autumn is not a flush it’s a character that’s formed just before the cold winters and also due to the plucking done through out the year the buds or tips are almost impossible to find in most teas of this season, so in this season we mostly look for a better cup than appearance.

As any other garden visit, I was offered with a pile of samples by Mr. A. Gurung (factory assistant manager) and as usual we sorted out some of the most exotic china type teas from the pile and started tasting, we tasted some clonals too but I was not convinced as I needed some heavier cup teas from this estate, I was offered some nice looking oolongs and whites but the only thing I needed was that typical high fired pungent Darjeeling black teas so we soon came across the Dj – 638 Ftgfop-1 invoice and there was no looking back any more, honestly I did not want to taste any more teas because I got exactly what I wanted , a good bodied , full flavored tea , an absolute good tea for a layman. I was also surprised to know that the Manager was fermenting the teas over 3-4 hours , where normally black teas are fermented for maximum 2 hours in autumn harvest, so one can imagine, Darjeeling is getting Cold!

Mr. A. Gurung (Asst. Manager) - Thurbo Tea Estate

Autumn visit to Margaret’s hope Tea Estate

Margaret's Hope Tea Garden Factory

On the 30th of October I went to one of my favorite tea estate Margaret’s hope Tea Garden located just below the Sonada station in Darjeeling.
Climbing down the steep hills towards the factory make the hair stand on the skin but this road is absolutely great fun for people of our age who definitely needs that buzz after a busy schedule…. anyways I was delighted to watch the scenery go pass by, specially the clean air I was breathing after months of working in the busy Darjeeling town, soon we reached the factory there was Mr. Rawat (factory assistant Manager) waiting for me as usual with his thick beard, we did a lot of tea tasting but I was not convinced with any of the teas, I was specially there for their china special variety but not even one tea was convincing for me, all the tea had that touch and grow condition meaning pre-autumn character.

(Rajiv Mitra - Testing Margaret's Hope Autumnal Flush 2007)

I met the Senior Manager Mr. J.D. Rai and he told us that there was atleast a temperature difference of 10 degrees Celsius between day and night and any difference above 5 degrees Celsius means less crop or pre-seasonal crop, they offered me many Oolongs and White teas but I was there to buy the real face of Darjeeling tea that is a very high quality black tea ,so I had to come back empty handed, they promised me that they would send us their best teas as soon as its available so let see, we have some 2 weeks in hand now. But can surely say that the Autumn 2007 will not be a successful one.

Singbulli Autumn Flush 2007

Finally on the evening of 27th October 2007 I was called up by the Manager of the Singbulli Tea Estate, I was excited as usual, so on the next morning I headed for the Estate, as usual I loved to drive down the road to Mirik towards Soureni bazar.

I reached the garden after a couple of hours drive from the Darjeeling town, I was getting nervous and exited as usual as I walked toward the gardens factory, soon Mr. Mantri (Manager, Singbulli tea estate Darjeeling) came out from his office to receive me and we soon marched towards the tea tasting room of the garden , I sorted out some 15 tea samples from around 25 tea samples that he offered me , soon after the water came to the boiling point we started with the china type teas ,well Singbulli being a low elevation garden has a lot of china bushes but for European market this type of tea would not work as the teas had a very strong body and somehow none of the teas we tasted had that sharp taste that I wanted , But the Singbulli Garden is famous for its AV-2 clone teas made specially at the Tingling Division of the garden ,this is the same sector from where the most famous Singbulli Clonal delight was made in the first flush, of coarse exclusively for us. Well soon after that we came to the point of tasting the clonal teas, we started with the “Marma” divison clones but those were too harsh for my tongue so at last we came to the Tingling division teas we tasted a couple of samples, soon I was attracted by one of the teas which was absolutely like what I wanted, actually as I have mentioned earlier that this garden is situated at a low altitude place so the teas produced here after summer is a bit stronger than usual Darjeelings but if one can increase the withering time then the liquor would be more bright and the taste would be sharper and the dry leafs would also be greener and the silver tips would look prominent, in short a completely new and acceptable character could be created, this is what I had requested the Manger to do and what a joy my prediction worked , my recipe made the best tea of the lot, so without any more further doubt I confirmed the last tea that I tasted from Tingling Division.

I specially brought this tea for my beloved customers who appreciated the first flush Singbulli Clonal delight silver tips. This new autumn tea is Know as the Singbulli SFTGFOP-1 Tippy.