I’m just back from a visit to some of Assam’s finest tea gardens, and I must admit, that wasn’t a bit like work ! These gardens are owned by Calcutta based McLeod Russell Group, who are possibly the finest tea growers in the world. They have a passion for quality, and go to amazing lengths to look after their workforce
It is impossible to describe the feeling you get when you first set eyes on these beautiful gardens. No photograph can capture the 360 degree view of a two thousand acre estate with every tea bush cared for like a prize exhibit. The flat top of the tea bush ( the plucking table) is as level as a snooker table and stretches as far as the eye can see. They pick two leaves and a bud off the top of the bush every week ! This new fresh growth looks so appetizing and healthy, you just can’t wait to taste a cup.
To turn these leaves into the tea we drink is a simple and completely natural process. Once picked by hand, these leaves are stretched out on huge racks to wither for 12 hours, that’s the slow bit. Then the leaves are chopped up into various particle sizes and left to ferment for about one hour. These leaves, now copper coloured, are
conveyed into a huge hot air dryer, where they float in mid air for about 20 metres, become completely dry and stay that way until you decide to have a brew !
I visited tea gardens called Phulbari, Pertabghur and Behali…. strange names I know, but I am really proud that our company is so closely associated with them, and for so long.
So what did I learn from this trip? I suppose I was reminded that Assam is an amazing place to grow tea, and when it is grown by people who are passionate and incredibly talented, it will continue to be the drink of choice for most of the world.