2018 Travels: an unforgettable trip to the Tea Studio with Kevin Gascoyne
This year Kevin visited India, Nepal and Sri Lanka between late March and mid-May. He began his annual trip in Calcutta, before heading to the Himalaya, to track down the cream lots of the First Flush Darjeeling. He then crossed the border into Nepal for a few days at Jun Chiyabari, currently one of his favourite gardens, he travelled to Puttajhora to meet the producers of the base tea for our very popular Earl Grey Classic. He then headed to Southern India to spend a couple of weeks working on our very exciting new project: the Tea Studio. His annual trip rounded off with a few producers in Sri Lanka. This year, Kevin had the pleasure to be accompanied by François-Napoléon, manager of the Quartier Latin store.
During his 6 weeks long journey, Kevin had the opportunity to visit so many beautiful gardens. Some making excellent premium teas others improving continually and one or 2 struggling to keep up. Crossing the border into Sikkim for the first time in a couple of years he visited Temi which was planted with Darjeeling plants in the 1970s and 1980s. Seeyok and Singell always interesting to visit, and great examples of a tea gardens using a biodynamic style of organ cultivation. Finally, the Thurbo, with one of the best tea makers in the region (Suman, a smiling and passionate individual), making exceptional quality again this year, under the supervision of the expert J. D Rai who does wonders creating a great working environment with optimal production in such a big garden.
Indian Tea and Gastronomy
During their travels in India, Kevin and François-Napoléon had the chance to taste so many local specialties. One notable one was Nepalese Tonga, a fermented millet in a bamboo tube to which boiling water is added and drunk through a metal straw. A rather special experience with a full body analgesic effect! In complete contrast the Tonga was accompanied by delicious home baked pizza topped with tea leaves and a locally made Austrian-style cheese. Multicultural gastronomy at its best.
The Return to Seed
Al over the tea world producers are realizing the benefits of returning to seed cultivation as opposed to clonal propagation. Seed plants are generally more hardy and provide a more sustainable alternative to deal with the unexpected future that climate change presents.
The Tea Studio, a dream come true.
After many years of discussing and planning an experimental tea factory. The dream became a reality earlier this year, and Kevin finally spent a few weeks making tea in the Tea Studio, our new project in the Nilgiris, India. After many years of hard work with our Indian partners, he was quite moved to finally see the factory operational ! Kevin and François-Napoléon were able to spend time with the partners and work the machines with the crew of women from neighboring villages. This project is also setting up to raise funds to allow girls in the surrounding villages to have access to education (often reserved for the boys of the family).
Learn more about the Tea Studio project by visiting the website and read the article on our blog.
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