Jorhat, Assam The vast Brahmaputra Valley holds the world’s greatest concentration of tea. Commercial production began 180 years ago in a region that has 800 of the largest plantations in the world; employs 686,000 tea workers daily and is vast enough to harbor ancient tea forests that have flourished for millennia. Assam is the most […]
Eons of evolution in the ancient tea forests of China has established a complex and delicate biomass. The gnarled, pale-grey and green trunks of the oldest trees are home to myriad adaptations of spiders, lichen, and the tree parasite known to locals as crab pincer, a tea mistletoe.
Siliguri, West Bengal During his 47-year stewardship of Makaibari Tea Estate, one of India’s oldest and most celebrated tea habitats, Rajah Banerjee, 70, instituted innovations that continue to reverberate globally. The 1,100-hectare estate was both laboratory and classroom. “I was never an owner, just a steward in passing,” he says. Makaibari built the world’s first […]
A scant 2,000 kilometers west of Darjeeling, on the opposite side of the Indian subcontinent, lays a scenic valley of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, a place steeped in Hindu mythology.
The Western Ghats, South India Backbone of South India The six-hour drive south from Balanoor Tea Estate in Karnataka to the storied Nilgiri District of Tamil Nadu skirts Mysore city, engages with endless hills of shade-grown tea and coffee, then climbs to a plateau studded with charming agricultural villages producing corn, cucumbers, mangos, palm oil […]
Balanoor Tea Estate, Karnataka Piece of Cake His birthday was celebrated in a leafy residential section of Bangalore, one of India’s more modern, connected cities. Thirty members of the prosperous Kuriyan clan milled about the cavernous apartment in the condominium complex they erected 15 years ago. Venerable tea and coffee planter, Ashok Kuriyan, the […]
There is a revolution going on in South India, right under our noses. Up until the late 1980s perhaps, South Indian tea – from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala – was predominantly comprised of mid-grade CTC (cut, tear, curl) produced for the local market. In addition, there was a range of orthodox black teas, leaf […]
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia In the time of the great Khans a caravan laden with four “poods” of tea found favor with Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich but the “outlandish dried leaf” baffled his court. A pood is a Russian unit of mass equal to 40 funt, loosely translated it means “a very large amount” of tea (in this […]
There’s been a growing shift in the strange, unfamiliar and exotic words you’ll see on a tea ingredient label or description: it can be summarized as yesterday chemistry and botanicals today (and probably biogenetic propagation tomorrow.) Yesterday’s chemistry: sodium caseinate, modified corn starch, resveratrol extract, riboflavin, soy lecithin, ascorbyl glucoside, xylitol, sodium hexametaphosphate, and “natural” […]
Where does tea flavor come from? The word “terroir” translates from the French to “of the earth.” It has become a fuzzy colloquial expression served up as a catchword that tries to resolve a mystery simply by naming it. The concept has been long in the making, dating to the very earliest Latin writings on wines. It’s a […]