I really don’t know why when it comes to Darjeeling Tea, it always has to hit the newswires as it is happening this year. Are the Gods marketing Darjeelings? – dart out ‘controversial’, end up ‘less produced’ and finally get expressed into ‘higher price’. Surely ‘Gods’ referred, as most of the mentioned phenomenal actions were nature’s sketch and the common man could do nothing – Just perceive being devastated and the least that could be done as a performance was to collect the debris and reflect back on the original structure which was there. And on top of this, man made gestures splinter in between, making everything halt at a standstill – a complete cripple – another addition of lovely inconvenience. Does God want annihilation or want us to resurrect and ponder – was that a starting sign of the much conversed ‘global warming’ in the hills? Anything ‘Darjeeling Tea’ inks the headlines!
Darjeeling is always considered the abode of Gods and is surely mystical – The Land of the Thunderbolt (that’s the reason why we christened our company “Thunderbolt Tea”). With so many temples, monasteries, churches and mosques, it also holds an upright position to be an ideal pilgrimage.
The abode never got abandoned and Gods too got the nostalgia, as all do, even if you have visited once. Maybe this has got a contributing factor in the production of Darjeeling Tea as well – no matter how bad the natural calamities hover around, there is always a heap of excellent quality Darjeeling Tea lying in one corner of a particular tea factory. Just needs some vigorous sourcing and of course a fat wallet to transfer it to ones warehouse. I simply burst into tears when a new buying for quality tea is scheduled on the chart.
For a vendor like me, it was tough and still is when ailing factors crop up. I have noticed that tea trade, specially relating to Darjeeling Tea is as complex as the very ‘fruity and nutty’ cup itself. It is considered best to buy Darjeelings during the peak time, for instance May for Second Flush, but what would have happened if I had hurried this Second Flush season (when Aila was at work)? – I would have bought “low quality at a high price”, which would have resulted in “complaints + loss”. Initially too much rain havocked the tea plants draining every mineral out of it. Again the season was cut short resulting in less production. After first week of June, the quality started to revive due to favorable weather conditions. So the only means through which I could procure good Second Flush was through constant tea tasting of tea samples sent by tea gardens. Some indulged traveling straight to them. Now that it is over and when pondered upon, I feel it was tiring and hectic but simultaneously, was fun. It is always great to do a job if one finds passion hidden in it. The learning phase is never over and the curiosity glides on and on.
After my discovery of Twitter and Facebook, the thought of being the “only ghost who drinks tea” miraculously compounded into a sigh of relief – I found other like minded ghosts who drank and lived tea! My tea friends!! “I am glad I found you all!” My life is getting liquefied trying to wade through the mysterious paths of tea and has infused into ‘total tea’ – a passion and a bread earner. If you cut me, I will blood out tea (thats an exaggeration hehe). But seriously, on a simpler note, I will never regret falling in love with it! Will I get over it? Guess not – the lovely addiction is so intense that I can live drinking it
Along with my very own, I can very well perceive that fellow tea lovers are developing their niche Darjeeling palate. Darjeelings are tender when it comes to preparing and preparing should be done along the lines of ones palate likings – thats what I found out so far. Some like the astringent character while some hate it and this is the reason why I wouldn’t want to advice a standardized form of Darjeeling Tea tasting procedure (specially steeping timings). But the art is slowly evolving and it is good news that Darjeeling now is getting diversified into making varied types of teas, apart from the traditional black, which would justify every palate. Like for instance I did some purchasing of Darjeeling greens and oolongs from Arya. Some say that Darjeeling should stick to black, but apart from black, have we tried anything else? There is no harm in exploring and yes, exploring in the right manner as Arya is doing. Not by making greens during the off or low quality season to push sales; this obviously will result in disappointment and the true hope of an authentic Darjeeling green can never be acquired.
When it comes to Darjeeling Tea seasons, only the three famed namely the First, Second and Autumn Flush are highlighted leaving the ‘in between’ or monsoon flush behind. Most of us even don’t know about it. Well there are a few reasons for that; monsoons mean rain with little sunshine and rains more than the required amount is really a menace in processing tea. It has been passed on from our ancestors that too much rain will wipe off the real taste and guess they are absolutely right – too much of rain occurring on a slope, drains away the much needed ingredients and is somewhat tasteless. Tea is not the only plant, but all plants, vegetables etc. gets affected, except for some exceptionals which are destined to grow during the monsoons only. I got some tea samples (monsoon teas), but no offence, it really didn’t have the essential juice to convince me. It was rather flat with very little aroma Darjeeling is famous for. Maybe I have missed out on a few good ones, but every year, monsoon teas have proved to be a disappointment (to me). During this season, the prices are rock bottom and why do you think that a tea fetching a price tag of USD 100 in the previous main flush is just 10 now? The quality is the main reason. I have skipped it every year and will be skipping this year too and instead concentrate on the upcoming Autumnal teas. Wouldn’t want to waste my money as well as my clients.
Anyways, I know this post is haphazard and so the apt title entitled. I will try to be more systematized and focused. Until then, Happy Tea Sipping!!!