Darjeeling Second Flush teas are a real scarcity at the moment and if you look around, u can hardly find any vendor selling it. Being here in Darjeeling is easy to procure, but doesn’t help this time because the teas are very limited in the tea estates itself.
I had tasted some excellent Goomtee tea samples and especially liked their teas from their organic section known as “Muscatel Valley”. Though the samples I received had already gone, I wanted to visit the garden to taste more if there were any similar teas left.
On 14th I took a ride till Mahanadi where Goomtee Tea Estate is located. Its on the way to Siliguri from Darjeeling while plying on the main road (there are shortcut routes to Siliguri, 75 km from Darjeeling). Siliguri is the first flat plain you will meet while heading down from the hills. Its like any other Indian city. Tindharia (DHR workshop) is very near to Goomtee.
Goomtee is located at a picturesque land where Jungpana falls in the vicinity and is visible from the estate. The history of Goomtee dates back to 1899 when a Briton, Mr. Henry Montgomery Lennox first planted the garden. The tea estate then passed on to several other hands like the Rana family of Nepal after World War II. Current management of Goomtee is run by “Goomtee Group of Tea Farms” with Mr. Ashok Kumar as the ‘Managing Partner’. Mr. Sagar Rawat is the manager and tea maker of Goomtee at present – an excellent tea maker who was previously with Margaret’s Hope Tea Garden. The tea estate avails tea lovers as well as fellow tourists to stay at Goomtee and witness various aspects of tea processing, indulge in the tea tasting, experience the colonial décor and above all feel the absolute link with nature far far away from the maddening crowd and the hustle and bustle of a crowded town or city. It’s a tremendous experience.
Well that was some Goomtee introduction. The reason I visited the garden was procurement of 2009 Second Flush Darjeeling teas. On arrival at Goomtee, I met Mr. Sagar Rawat, the manager who was kind enough to offer me a cup of tea and some cookies at his residential bungalow in the garden – after a long ride from Darjeeling, I needed to rest for a while, wipe my sweat out and of course a cup of fresh Darjeeling tea. After a little chat with his wife and kid, we headed to the factory to do the real thing – ‘tea tasting’. I had brought the sample along with me which I had liked.
Two tea garden assistants were called in to prepare the tea and seven cups were laid. Luckily the sample which I had liked was with them and this two was included in the tasting line – the sample I had brought didn’t have to come out from my bag. There were two light liquored teas, one white and one green, but my finding was to get a pure second flush character-oriented Darjeeling tea. The white and green teas were excellent, but the sample I had liked, prevailed superior. Its so hard to judge when similar grades and that too from the same garden are laid and you are tasting them one after another. But ultimately, the Muscatel Valley which I had liked prevailed in superiority.
While tasting the teas, Mr. Ashok Kumar, Managing Partner of Goomtee, came in and joined the tasting session. He is a very friendly person and loves tea like anything.
My liking was the tea which I had sampled earlier – I asked Mr. Rawat whether this tea could be got from the buyer who took it. The tea was taken by some tea company in Kolkata named as “Elite” and was shipped just a day ago from the tea garden after I reached. Mr. Rawat called up Kolkata in front of me and the deal was fixed. If I had visited a little earlier, this hassle wouldn’t have existed. Frankly, re-buying resulted in paying 5% commission to the company, but just could settle for a lesser grade. The shipped tea had just reached Siliguri and now is being shipped back to our premises – lucky me! Its entering tomorrow.
Now this tea I bought is called “Goomtee (Muscatel Valley) FTGFOP1”. Goomtee is a large tea estate and has got different sections mostly planted with China hybrid tea bushes. This tea is from their finest organic section called “Muscatel Valley” under their “Majhua Division” at an altitude over 4500 ft. The word ‘Majhua’ is nostalgic to me because my great great grandfathers were tea laborers in this tea estate. My father still has his ancestral home at Chimney, a few kms away from Majhua, and we visit the place once in a year during the festival season. My father was brought up there; interesting isn’t it? All raw organic tea leaves brought from this Muscatel Valley section are processed separately in the Goomtee tea factory following ISO 9001 and HACCP standards.
Goomtee is a Fairtrade tea garden where workers are given utmost care and concern. No child workers are employed and the existing workers receive good medical facilities, good remuneration, good food supply at subsidized rates, proper living standards, school facilities for children etc. The tea I bought is a Fairtrade Tea So buy it hehe!
Mr. Sagar Rawat generously invited me for another round of tea at his place. His daughter ‘Ananya’ is a cute little duckling. Mr. Rawat had surprised me before when he was with Margaret’s Hope with his creations like the Margaret’s Hope Pearls. Asked if he could make some Goomtee Pearls for me. Lets see! It’s a 80% ‘yes’. Good person and an experienced and remarkable tea maker. Without a proper tea maker, the best of raw tea leaves can result in the worst of ‘finished product’. Thanks Mr. Rawat, if you are reading this, for your hospitality, won’t forget!
Its not updated yet to our site. Please don’t hurry, I am bouncing from one garden to another to get the best and you will sip the best. Until then Happy Tea Sipping! Thanks for your patience!! Delay in procuring – its not us, blame the weather, blame Aila
Will comment on the tea characteristics later, on this blog.
You can view rest of the photos below: