It’s midmorning on the Nagri tea estate. Angela Pradhan is in the factory’s tasting room preparing for the tea’s final test. She has prepared a dozen or so tea cups and several small tea pots, each with a strainer. Everything is made from robust white stoneware. The team has been working through the night on yesterday’s plucked harvest – processing, sorting and grading.
It is nearly time for the final hurdle – to check that the tea makes the grade. Only then can it be filled into large sacks, each marked with the grade, the batch number and the day of production. The person entrusted with this weighty task is factory manager, Ajit Mishra, who is waiting impatiently in his air-conditioned office.
Unruffled, Angela prepares a small pot of tea from each sample. The rules are strict: With a brass scale Angela measures the tea leaves into the strainer of each tea pot. A portion is the weight of an old 4 Anna coin (approximately 2.8 grams/0.01oz) – the perfect amount for one sampling pot. She fills the pots with boiling water and lets the tea infuse. Once it’s cooled down to room temperature, Mr. Mishra appears and inspects the tea leaves in the strainer – their colour, texture and aroma – before he tastes the tea. Just as a vintner does with wine, he moves the tea in his mouth, rolls it around with his tongue then spits it out.
‘SFTGFOP’ he says. Angela knows well that this means. ‘Super fine tippy golden orange pekoe’. The best of the best. So far so good.
The Nagri tea garden is just one of five that you can adopt through Nudo. With the adoption you receive up to 4 flushes of organic , biodynamic, fair trade, tea per year.
Images courtesy of the contributor.
Editor’s note: this is the second of five posts about the tea – and tea industry – of Darjeeling.
With so much riding on each harvest, the stress must be palatable. What happens if the tea doesn’t live up to the “best”? How will that affect the company and the staff?