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India Nepal 2016, part 2

28 April 2016

at 9:00 by Seb

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The quality of tea from any garden depends on so many variables.  Firstly there is the field practice: the pruning cycles, the maintenance of the soil and removal of risk factures such as pest infestations or fungal infections.  Then come the natural factors: the precipitation being the most obvious. A little tension is good but too much will damage the plants.  The hail we saw in March is another perfect example of another risk that may just arrive unexpectedly out of nowhere.  A week of sun before the pluck will give a different flavour to a week of rain as will cold nights or warm nights and the list goes on and on. Next is the human factor the choice of moment to pluck, and the quality of leaf selection, the adaptation of the wither, all choices that depend on management skills and sensitivity to the artisanal process.

There are times that all these variables line up and even a garden that was making mediocre teas will suddenly find itself in a period of quality, other times gardens of great reputation will suddenly loose control due to crop failure, labour issues or bad management.

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There are a couple of gardens that have popped up on my radar in the last couple of years.  One is Oaks, a small garden of mostly old classic plants, fully organic.  Though not all their offerings were of interest to me this year a couple were well-balanced, aromatic and really punchy in a classic style First Flush.  You will see them cropping up in the Catalogue this Spring and I will be keeping an eye on them in the next few harvests.

Another garden that caught my attention last year was Badamtam, again fully organic with both classic and clonal sections.  Some of their young plants are giving full, sweet cups with great aromatic bouquets so another to look out for this Spring.

Kevin

India Nepal 2016

20 April 2016

at 16:37 by Seb

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Arriving in India just a few days later then usual I soon realized that I had cut it pretty tight.  The First Flush had started a week earlier than usual and I had already missed a couple of good teas.  Once the first rains had stimulated the gardens into their spring growth it has gone dry.  This initial dry spell had really boosted the quality of the early teas.

IMG-20160331-WA0021The next big precipitation had all fallen in one valley but had arrived in the form of a vicious hail storm that had caused serious damage to a few Gardens in Darjeeling East (See Garden Map here). The damage was so extensive that Risheehat, Arya, Happy Valley and parts of Orange Valley will be out of action long into the Second Flush.  Though hail is becoming more common at this time of year it was the most serious storms for decades.

I began this year’s Darjeeling tour out east near the Bhutanese border in the gardens of Snowview/Kumai and Samabeong then swiftly moved on to Glenburn and Namring.  All these gardens had been doing extensive planting particularly Namring who had uprooted many hectares of old assamica plants to replace them with popular AV2 clones.   I picked up a delicious tea from Namring from their old classic plants high at the top of the garden.

From there it was on to Thurbo.  Last year we awarded JD Rai the superintendent at Thurbo the Camellia Sinensis Award for Excellence.  He has been making a tea for me for a few years now that has been a consistent highlight of our catalogue.  This year they made 2 exceptional teas for us one a very special small batch.  Once the work was done we settled around the office computer to watch the documentary that La Semiane Verte filmed last year as they all featured in it especially Parminder Singh the manager.

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Kevin

 
 

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