Rajiv Lochan was born in a tea garden in December 1953, and ever since has tried to do something different. Destiny took him to different corners of tea: from Darjeeling to Yunnan to Shizuoka to Bihar to Mississippi. From where the British accidentally grew the world’s best tea – Darjeeling – to the cradle of tea – Fengqing – and to where tea is now shifting – America. This brought him to form G3 “Group of Three” consisting of India, China, and America, with Professor Wang Xu Feng and Jason MacDonald.
“Story of a Leaf” is a highest literary prize-winning novel written by Professor Wang Xu Feng, Dean of the Tea Culture department of Zhejiang Agriculture & Forestry University (ZAF).
China Central TV made a 300-minute long documentary based on this work and the tea traveling trails on which merchants traveled for thousands of years. Taking Buddhism and tea at crossroads in Kabul where European, Indian, and Chinese scholars, monks, merchants, travellers, warriors, and more converged. This developed into a subject called “Tea Diplomacy”.
Jason MacDonald – a direct descendant of frontiersman Daniel Boone – got involved in tea plantations in the last few years when tea made real appeal to Americans. This is not simply Northern but also Southern and Latin American coffee drinking nations ranging from Canada to Chile. Now it’s swelling into the third wave: The first being out of China to Asia and the second to Africa. Extremely high labour costs are becoming common through Japanese technology, both in tea sciences and machinery.
Bihar accidentally became Rajiv Lochan’s playground in 1998 when its erstwhile government wanted to reverse the human migration from its parched northeastern corner of Purbanchal, which is bordered by Bengal, Darjeeling, and Nepal. Thanks to a small underground river flowing through the Pothia prefecture of Kishangunj administrative district of Bihar, a region that was not traditionally considered a tea growing area became one and “Doke” was born. After twenty years this has blossomed into www.doketea.com and a new small grower movement has been born.
Doke has become our purpose in life, our passion to do something which can open the gates to a solution for the millions of dependents on this sector in India which is struggling to survive: Both in Darjeeling and in the plains of India. Trying to develop it into a seat of tea education, we have been bringing in interns since 2004 to work on the teas we produce. This is spearheaded by Lochan’s daughter Dolly, and we are in an unending pursuit to do something new.
Image provided by Rajiv Lochan.