18 April 2014
After 22 hours of travel, Kevin and I finally arrived in Calcutta. In the vast chaos of this legendary city, we find some of the first precious leaves to grace menu this year.
Kevin met up with a close taster friend who leads us to his office to taste vast quantities of fresh samples just in from Darjeeling. Among them a Jungpana and Thurbo tailor made to Kevin’s specifications that seduce our taste buds. This is the stuff!
That night we had a very interesting dinner with Nigel Melican, a tea scientist, worldwide consultant and a tea buyer from Tokyo also here for the Darjeelings.
Two days later, we are in the move again leaving Calcutta behind and flying to Darjeeling, where, Marie-Soleil Desautels, a free lance journalist, awaits us. She will follow us for five days from garden to garden, asking Kevin a myriad of questions about his traditional spring adventure.
We visit the gardens of Longview, Singell, Castleton, Goomtee, Steinthal, Glenburn, Jungpana and more. Hours of crisscrossing the bumpy mountain roads and misty valleys of Darjeeling. The managers of the gardens welcome us warmly and invite us to taste a number of their freshly picked teas.
My personal best memories so far were the visit to Jungpana, where a single footpath leads up the valley side to the plantation, and tasting the Castleton ‘Moonlight’ … a hand made leaf, so fresh and composed of beautiful buds, this tea flows like nectar on the palate, leaving a sense of a perfect balance both woody, fruity, and muscat flavors in the mouth.
At the time of writing, we are at Goomtee, ready to launch the attack on two other quality gardens: Gopaldhara and Thurbo.