Prepare for another journey to the foothills of the Himalayas, to those special tea gardens who have warranted the designation of being a “Darjeeling Tea Garden.” This time we stop in at Goomtee Tea Estate in West Bengal, India, and revisit some teas from there. We haven’t tried many, but they have been memorable to be sure.
About Ratings & Flushes
The ratings shown for these teas are part of the Orange Pekoe rating system used for Darjeeling and other teas in some countries.
- “FTGFOP” = “Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe”
- “SFTGFOP” = “Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe”
- “1” = a step up in quality
- “CL” = a clonal tea, that is, a “vintage” tea plant was cloned
Flushes are periods of growth and then harvest (exact dates vary by garden location and the weather). Abbreviations used in the photo descriptions:
- 1F = First Flush (roughly early March thru late April)
- 2F = Second Flush (roughly late May thru June)
- AF = Autumn Flush (roughly early September thru October)
We have been privileged to try the teas shown here.
The two most recent were these lovely teas (click on each photo to see details):
A few lovely teas from years past (click on each photo to see details):
About the Goomtee Tea Estate
Goomtee Tea Estate
This is one of the 87 or 88 tea gardens in West Bengal, India, that bears the official designation of “Darjeeling tea.” The garden was founded in 1899, about 30 years after the first ones were planted. It is on mountain slopes ranging in elevation from 3,000 to 6,000 feet. The plants are Chinese varietals of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), and the growing conditions are some of the most ideal (cool to moderate temperatures and plenty of rain).
The staff take tea very seriously, from plucking just the right tea leaves off the plants to processing those leaves in the factory. The teas are sold according to their “flush” (a period of growth on the tea plant).
Many of the people working on the tea garden are third generation and are experts in their craft of harvesting the right leaves from the plants and processing them to obtain the best flavors. They use exacting, traditional methods handed down through decades and improved with their own expertise. The processed teas are given a final pre-pack bake to ensure quality and freshness, even though this can mean a loss of 1.5 to 2% of the total amount.
The garden (click on each photo to see details):
Processing the tea (click on each photo for details):
Tea tourism, where you tea lovers travel to gardens to see where that tasty beverage is from, has been on the rise in recent years. Often, you can stay right on the garden grounds. Most gardens have a bungalow, usually built as the residence of the original owners, that has been turned into guest quarters. Goomtee is one of those gardens. Their bungalow was built by Mr. Henry Montgomery Lennox (instrumental in the planting of several tea gardens in the area) as a residence for his family. It is situated in a part of the garden that has wonderful views on all sides and attractive landscaping. The bungalow has several additions to it now but retains its original character, with wood floors, wall paneling, and ceilings and British period style furniture. It’s like traveling back in time.
The bungalow was turned into a guest house for visiting Directors of the garden and their families in 1956 when the Kejriwal family and Mr. Mahabir Prasad jointly acquired the property. Today, the bungalow is open to guests as part of their efforts to raise the overall level of prosperity in the region. It has four lovely bedrooms with comfortable furnishings and attached modernized bathrooms.
The resort bungalow (click on each photo to see details):
You can also see them on these sites:
You can lounge around or indulge in a variety of activities like these:
- Visit the Goomtee Factory to see tea leaves being processed – the Withering, Rolling, Drying, Sorting, and Packing.
- Be a part of a tea tasting where you and the experts will assist in the grading and evaluation of the teas just processed.
- Purchase some of these freshly processed teas at a 15% discount.
- Enjoy a picnic lunch, if the weather is good.
- Take a shower in the waterfall, go up Tiger Hill to view a sunrise, or take a long hike.
There’s much more. The friendly staff makes sure you have a time that is worth every penny and then some. You will come away with a much better appreciation for how tea comes to be.
The samples above came from these vendors (click on each logo to see details):
Note: photos of the resort, garden, and factory are from the Goomtee site, used with permission.
© 2017-2021 World Is a Tea Party photos and text
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