This year’s travels were filled with many tea gardens and many tastings. One that stood out to us was a visit to Gopaldhara Tea Estate in the Mirik Valley of Darjeeling.
I arrived after nightfall, winding down a narrow bumpy jeep road that was quite nerve-racking (most tea areas have crazy mountain roads..but this was exceptionally bad 🙂 I was rewarded, however, by waking with the sunlight shining in the middle of the tea garden.
The Tea Garden Manager and I began the day with a 30 minute hike down to the factory to watch the morning tea processing. The garden ranges from 3500 to 7000 ft in elevation, so a bit of a steep hike!
Gopaldhara was established in 1881, so there’s a long history here, but their factory was recently renovated, including a hydro system that powers half of the factory’s needs! The tea processing for 1st flush generally begins early morning, and ends before the heat of the day gets too strong. The process includes withering the leaf, oxidizing, rolling, heating, and finally sorting.
The timing and method for each step is carefully attended to by the workers, and fine tuned by the manager. The manager’s watchful eye is one of the major points that makes each tea garden unique. They all have their tricks of the trade, so to speak.
Of course, we can’t share too much of that…but what we can share is the results…the tea that was made here, by these hands. After spending hours in the factory, we made our way up and tasted through many sessions of tea, finally choosing the vibrant tea we offer here.
Also, we can share much more in person at our Teahouse in Middlebury, VT. See our Workshop and Tasting Series for an in depth look (and taste) into our travels and teas.