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News from Kevin in Darjeeling

10 April 2010

at 18:27 by Seb

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Yesterday Kevin caught up with his old friend Mr.Panjikar who left Gopaldhara last year to take up managing the garden of Guyabaree.  In 10 years of hard work he had brought Gopaldhara to be one one of the best quality gardens in the region of Darjeeling, so it was a bit of a shock to hear that he was leaving at the end of last year.

His new post is a very different  challenge with 80% assamica plants and no reputation for quality, the garden is in need of care and the factory in disrepair. “I am not even starting at zero here, I am starting below zero!  There is much work to do, but you will see by 2015 you will be tasting some fantastic teas”

In tasting the teas were all assamica’s, all suprisingly smooth, lively and without harshness, the Panjikar touch was already starting to make its mark.

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After a morning at the old very established Castleton, where there were some great teas up for tasting.  The next garden on today’s itinerary was Giddapahar.  It was the first time Kevin had been there.  A fascinating little operation that is run as a family business, a very unusual set -up in the Darjeeling region.

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Sudhan Shu and his brother are the current generation of a story that goes back to the family taking over in 1881.  Some parts of the garden are nearly at 2000m almost all old china.  This tiny garden is only producing around 200kg per day.  The factory itself looks like a museum with some old machines of Irish manufacture that date back to 1911.  Two hand built sifters and storage bins add to the charming authenticity of the factory.  The teas were above average and the brothers very modest about their efforts to improve.  One tea really stood out and will be found in the Spring catalogue…

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