Some Lesser Known Darjeeling Tea Gardens

Of the 87 (or 88) tea gardens that bear the official designation of being Darjeeling gardens, a few seem to garner most of the attention while the rest barely get noticed, despite the quality of their teas. Marketing is a tough thing for them and usually not affordable. So sites like this one help spread the word. It benefits you, the tea lover, and people like us who spread the word about such teas. (In our case, the benefit is that these great teas continue to be available as the gardens continue producing thanks to folks buying them.)

Avongrove

TBI # 4
District (Valley) Rungbong
Company KPL International Limited (as of 2008)

A beautiful tea estate in the Rungbong Valley (2200 to 5700 feet elev.) that overlooks the Balasun River. The name means “Birds Nest.”

Their teas are manufactured the traditional way with lots of care to preserve the delicate leaves. Plucking is done by skilled workers who know the right size leaf for the finest quality and how to handle the bundles so they aren’t crushed or ruptured. They have their own factory (some gardens partner with other gardens and use that factory) with a master tea processor as manager who assures just the right flavor is achieved during processing of the leaves.

Their first flush period is early February and March, and the resultant teas produce a crisp, light liquid. The second flush period yields the finest infusion, with a gentle gold color and smooth flavor. They also produce a hand-woven flowering tea and several naturally fragranced teas.

Sadly, they have embraced the fallacy of organic farming and thus production is about one-third of what it should be, but the quality is not any better than if they used modern farming methods. They are catering to a market that has been totally sold on the idea that any man-made chemicals are bad. Plus, this estate is owned and managed by KPL International Ltd., headed by Mr. Anand Kanoria, who studied at the University of Virginia, which is probably where he picked up such ideas. Very sad to see.

Tourism Info

Avongrove Tea Estate (DarjeelingTourismPackages.com)

Tea:

Dooteriah (Dooteria, Dooterish)

TBI # 14
District (Valley) Darjeeling (East)
Company Dooteriah & Kalej Valley Tea Estates Pvt. Ltd. (The Alchemist Group, who are selling this garden plus Kalej Valley and Peshok to Trident Global HKK Ltd.)

The Dooteriah Tea Estate was started in 1859 (one of the first six gardens planted) in the eastern valley of the Darjeeling area, West Bengal, India. They are in a little district called Sonada. The elevation is 3,362-7,000 feet. As of 2014 Mr. Yogdeep Gurung was the garden superintendent.

As of the posting of this article, Dooteriah is owned by The Alchemist Group, which also owns Kalej Valley Tea Estate and Peshok Tea Estate. They operate the gardens under the name “Dooteriah & Kalej Valley Tea Estates Pvt. Ltd.” Alchemist had fallen seriously behind in paying the people who work on the gardens and are now hoping to sell to Trident Global HKK Ltd. (we could not find out if this sale has been finalized yet). In August, 2016, they reached an arrangement with labor union groups to pay wages owed in 12 installments – the arrangement would be binding on the new owners. The wage issue had been ongoing since the beginning of this year. This is just one example of the tough times the Darjeeling tea industry is now facing. Some has been due to old tea plants and declining production from them. Others have been due to forced gardening methods such as organic and business methods such as Fair Trade. Regardless, their teas are still in demand around the world and most of the gardens have found a way to survive.

dooteriahgarden

Tea:

Click photo to see larger and details about the tea:

Longview (Highlands)

TBI # 31
District (Valley) Kurseong (South)
Company Longview Tea Company Ltd.

Longview Tea Estate was first planted by C.G. Adams and opened in 1873. Since then and through 1953 one of the Wyandhams of Australia owned it. Now the estate is owned by Longview Tea and Agro Ltd. The factory was mostly destroyed by fire in 2008 but has been fully restored. Almost 2,000 employees live on the estate or in nearby small villages.

Longview is considered one of the best tea estates of Darjeeling, producing fine quality tea with its own distinct flavor apart from the rest. The estate also has its own unique charm and grace due to its sprawling beauty and is thus a great tourist destination. The name “Longview” comes from the expansive views out over the verdant landscape of the garden. The estate has about 506 hectares under tea cultivation. It is the largest producer of Darjeeling teas yet is not well known in the tea arena. The first flush is usually harvested in the beginning of Spring.

Tourism Info

Longview Tea Estate (DarjeelingTourismPackages.com)

Teas:

Click photo to see larger and details about the tea:

Nagri (Nagari) Farm

TBI # 44
District (Valley) Rungbong
Company Chamong Tee Exports Pvt. Ltd.

Nagri Farm (or sometimes spelled “Nagari Farm”) is a 150+ years old tea estate (founded in 1836) in the Rungbong Valley of West Bengal, India. It is at an elevation range of 2500 to 6400 feet, but the slopes are fairly gentle. The garden size is 571.37 hectares and grows not only China and Assam hybrid tea plants but also ginger, cardamom, orchids, oranges, and more. There are 256 hectares growing tea and 900 people employed there to tend and harvest the tea and other crops.

The name “Nagri” (“Nagari”) is supposedly from “Nav Gauri,” one of the nine incarnations of Parvati that uses its powers to kill demons and bring us all peace. Locals call the area “Makarjung.”

The farm was started as a dairy farm by Mr. Greenhill, but he soon joined in with others by planting tea. He sold the estate to Williamson Magor and the company formally established the Nagri Farm Tea Company Ltd. Their tea processing factory is currently a solid cement structure. Two previous structures burned in 1912 and 1962 (fires in tea factories are common occurrences). In 2001 the tea estate was bought by its current owners, The Chamong Group.

Sadly, they have gone organic, buying in to the lie about the harmful nature of man-made chemicals. What they end up achieving is reduced acreage production and a decline in quality. They have to do this to get buyers in Western countries to buy their teas. The push for organic has gained a frightening amount of acceptance in those countries and is harming the tea industry overall as well as other aspects of agriculture.

Tourism Info

Nagri Farm Tea Estate (DarjeelingTourismPackages.com)

Tea(s):

Click photo to see larger and details about the tea:

Oaks

Local name: Talkot Kaman

TBI # 49
District (Valley) Kurseong (North), Sonada Valley
Company Dears Tea Company Pvt.Ltd.

Oaks Tea Estate was established in the early 1900s in the misty hills of Sonada, a small town between Darjeeling and Kurseong hills. The estate grows China tea plants and produces orthodox style Darjeeling teas (about 95,000kg annually). The estate is on the route of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (also known as the Toy Train). This estate and several other smaller gardens in the area are little known outside of a tight circle of Darjeeling tea aficionados.

Tea:

Click photos to see larger and details about the tea:

Poobong

Also called “Chota Poobong”

TBI # 55
District (Valley) Ghoom District
Company Poobong Tea Co. Ltd.

Poobong is so little that it is often referred to as “Chota Poobong,” meaning “small Poobong.” The name “Poobong” is Tibetan for “Valley Behind the Clouds.” The estate was established in either 1899 or 1913, depending on your information source. The elevation ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 feet (or 2,500 to 4,500 feet depending on your source) and is foggy much of the time. Their teas are considered excellent quality. They were the first Darjeeling garden to produce a white tea.

Click photos to see larger and details:

Tea:

Click photos to see larger and details about the tea:

The Vendors

The samples above came from these vendors (click on each logo to see details):

© 2017-2021 World Is a Tea Party photos and text

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