As final arrangements are put into place for the upcoming World Tea Tours’ Tea Tour of Fujian, I’m still warmed by the illuminating memory of my visit to Darjeeling in December of 2011. After having had the honor of speaking at the second Indian Tea Forum, I headed up into the hills for a short, but rejuvenating, visit to the Glenburn tea estate. Besides the garden’s exceptional teas, the accommodations of the restored estate bungalows, the gourmet food, and the attentive staff always ensure a pampered experience. I’m looking forward to bringing another group there this October for part of the tea tour’s itinerary.
One of my favorite experiences when visiting this area is seeing the sunrise on Mt. Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak of the Himalayas. Tibetan for “Five Treasuries of the Great Snows,” Mt. Kanchenjunga has been a sight to behold a number of times, but on this recent trip, I enjoyed the spectacle after walking only a few steps from my bedroom door. Glenburn’s main house faces directly to the snow-covered peaks and the conditions were just right for a breathtaking view. Just before the first rays of the day’s sun began to kiss the highest peak, I borrowed a chair and cushion from the veranda and moved it out under the cover of the fading stars. A watchful staff member was quick to appear with a pot of freshly brewed tea.
As the tea warmed me from within, the golden rays of the dawn painted the inspirational scene. Transfixed by the timeless and indomitable presence of the majestic peaks, I could hardly blink for fear of missing an instant’s opportunity to drink in the panoramic vista. As the moments passed, the contours of the mountain were bathed in hues of gold, then orange, then pink, and finally brilliant white. After a second cup of tea, I stood up and turned my gaze across the valley toward the town of Darjeeling. The sun was now fully blanketing the hillside, and the windows of the houses reflected the light, sparkling like countless diamonds. Inspired, I returned to my room and climbed back under the covers, just in time to have my “morning tea” served bedside.
Having had the good fortune to enjoy teas in many wonderful places, I do have other favorite teas. For me, however, drinking Darjeeling tea is not just an aromatic and flavorful pleasure; it is inseparably infused with the experiences I’ve had there – the land, its people, and its culture.
For more information on the previous Tea Tours, visit World Tea Tours online.
This post was first published February 3, 2012; updated for today’s publication.