Recently, Jonathan Kane Houldsworth from New Zealand contacted me via Facebook about a Robert Fortune film that was produced by an Australian company. Mr. Houldsworth is associated with Dilmah Tea, but the spirit of Robert Fortune brought us together and he wrote about this incident on his blog, which made me sit up and take notice of the fact that it is very important to rummage through history.
Almost at the same time, Brian Chang from Taiwan also contacted me via Facebook about the history of Tukvar. This made me realize that I do not know much about it, although I did manage to put together a few paragraphs from the memories of people who were in some way connected with this tea estate. Brian later wrote, “Thanks for your great help. It’s very useful to have this information. The study of history is meaningful and interesting and helps us learn more about Darjeeling, not only the tea, but also the evolution. Combining these, the value of the tea is not only in the taste, but also in the history behind it. Thank you very much!!”
Kandy Smith visited from England some time ago, looking for her roots in Darjeeling, a touching story that was covered very lucidly on T Ching by Dharlene Marie Fahl. Since then, people living in many parts of the world have contacted me for information on friends and family who may have lived in my part of India.
Very recently, China National Tea Museum officials visited Darjeeling on the trail of Robert Fortune, but the trail is not strong. The Indian Tea Board does not recognize Robert Fortune’s contribution to Indian tea history, so there is little official documentation on this topic. We were able to arrange a courtesy meeting with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) at Siliguri during the Chinese officials’ visit, but there is more work to be done. This has given us the incentive to document better this missing part of history and present it to the world. There are many nicely printed books, some badly printed books, some well-documented books, and some old books, but nothing describes fully the history of the 89 tea gardens planted in four sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik, and Kalimpong.
Dan Robertson has an assignment here.
I am glad to see that there are so many people are interested in the history of tea and Darjeeling.
This is just the tip of iceberg Nicole..tea tourism alone can bring so many people to Darjeeling provided the sanitised infrastructure is build and political stability provided by the local people…
Isn’t it wonderful how Facebook is bringing like minded people together. It’s a great tool to share information and lives. The politics of tea is no different from politics in other arenas. If we are persistent and honest, the truth will come forth. Thanks for all your efforts to support tea internationally.
I love all these stories of how “tea people” are finding each other. And good old Facebook does it again! This is where Mr. Lochan and I first met, too. He identified all the Chinese Tea Men in the photos from my 2007 trip with our American Tea Association. I was amazed!
I also had the opportunity to take my daughter to England late last year where we met and stayed in the home of Brian and Kandy Smith – my traveling companions in Darjeeling. Again, we had so much fun!
One never knows!
The secrets of tea are being revealed. Keep on digging Rajiv. I find it strange that the Tea Board doesn’t recognize Fortune. I wonder why. The old-timers who remember the bits and pieces need to be interviewed and their knowledge documented. Pieces to the greater puzzle that will be lost otherwise.
Dan – for the simple reason that Fortune is related to China – and India would never recognise Chinese teas on its soil…but fact remains..
Nicole – brew some real good Darjeeling tea in ice cold water for few hours and then enjoy the flavour – a very comparable commodity as that of any good wine – but you will realise that there is hardly any worthwhile literature about darjeeling tea. You being a writer whom people read must pick up the pen to jot it down for generations to come. If only Lu Yu was alive…