The revitalizing efforts of the Rohini Tea Estate by the Saria family have made their teas worth revisiting, so here goes!
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. Please click on each photo to see details.
One thing that surprises people who’ve been drinking teas from Darjeeling for years is that they produce the same array as other tea gardens:
- Black – The most common and traditional form, known for years and produced by almost all the gardens in Darjeeling, goes through all the stages of orthodox processing (i.e. withering or machine drying, rolling, fermenting, sorting etc.). 100% oxidized, fully dried up and then carefully cut up to absorb more oxygen. The liquid is darker in color and flavor ranges from fruity, nutty, and flowery to spicy.
- Green – Dried and steamed but not oxidized, so many of the natural beneficial chemicals are retained. The liquid is usually light green in color and not suitable for adding milk. Use water heated to about the same temperature as for other green teas to avoid bitterness. Cost wise, compared with other green teas, especially those from Japan, this tea offers the best value and delivers a wonderful flavor.
- Oolong – Similar to the traditional Chinese tea and in terms of oxidation it is between black tea and green tea. The leaves are hard withered and semi oxidized, and the types are Clonal and China (the original bushes and seeds were from China but that was so long ago that they are now being replaced with clonals having similar properties).
- White – The most delicate Darjeeling tea commanding the highest price. Hand picked, dried in the sun, and hand rolled. Infuses a pale golden liquid with a hint of natural sweetness.
About the Rohini Tea Estate
The Rohini Tea Estate was first planted in 1955, but in 1962 it was closed and sat idle until about 1996 when a major replanting began by the Saria family. The original 1,300 hectares of original China jats (tea plant varietals) are mostly gone, with only 38 hectares remaining. Those remaining plants produce exquisite muscatel teas in the second flush. The garden now has only 146 hectares planted in total, including those 38 hectares. The 108 hectares of new tea plants are not yet mature but still have the highest quality and produce exquisite teas. Their tea factory uses the highest standards for hygiene and food safety.
Due to the slope of the terrain, the garden was divided into four parts:
|Mid 1 & 2||Kotidhara & Pailodhara||74.56||Produces very high quality teas. Mostly AV2 and T-78 clones.|
|Highest (4400ft avg)||Tukuriya||33.25||Mostly the old tea area, more than 100 years old.|
Click on each photo to see details:
A recently created road is connects Siliguri, Rohini, and Kurseong to aid the tourists who come in droves to enjoy the beautiful natural environment, including a small lake. The folks at Lochan help Rohini people get their teas out to an appreciative market.
Click on each photo to see details:
Shiv Saria posted on Facebook on May 8 2015 at 6:27am the following:
“Rohini Tea Farm, Darjeeling, UPROOTS 10 acres of 18 year young teas to REPLACE & REPLANT NOW with THE JETHIKUPI cultivar – an early flusher with copious flowery aroma”
Our findings as of 9 May 2015:
“Just tried samples of 3 first flush teas from Rohini, including some of the Jethi Kupi cultivar. We always have a very controlled tasting environment and tried these samples along with several others from other gardens. The Jethi Kupi was pretty good as was the AV2. A good sign of tasty things to come, I think.”
As for why Rohini would do this, I commented:
“The Darjeeling gardens date back to mid 1800s. Some of the jats (tea plant cultivars) are that old. The plants just get worn out and need to be replaced. Also, like Taiwan, the Darjeeling gardens (there are about 87 or 88 that have that designation from the Tea Board of India) are trying out new cultivars to improve overall quality. I have some concern that the distinct flavor profile is getting lost in that effort, though.”
It can be easy to forget how long those gardens have been around. Plus they are refocusing their goals. Tea growers everywhere are in a struggle to get a decent price for their crop. They have to balance between the worldwide demand for those low-grade dust-in-a-bag teas and the special hand-crafted teas. (Again, a dilemma that faces many industries.) The economy will do what it will do, and if people want something badly enough, they will pay. Overall, hope this works out for them.
The samples above came from these vendors (click on each logo to see details):
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