Ashok Kumar, the owner of Goomtee Tea Estate
The corner sign posts
The Road to Goomtee with the toy train track running alongside.
The Toy train runs through Kurseong all the way to Darjeeling offering some scenic views. The climb to Goomtee starts here.
The road leading to Goomtee village
The Factory announcing the year when Goomtee started.
Writing a blog on tea, I am discovering is like experiencing a great tea. Here’s how…
There are an array of teas to choose from (for my blog it is the people I have met and continue to meet).
Something at the subconscious level surfaces in a moment and I am attracted towards a particular tea. It could be a moment of feeling adventurous to try something new, or wanting the comfort of a tea well known to me. It may well be that I am open to the recommendation of a friend or an expert and in a state of allowing myself to be influenced. So it is with the people I meet. A tea aficionado I meet or talk with unravels an aspect of the tea business that resonates within and it brews, gathering momentum to turn into something for presentation.
Just as it takes being in a relaxed focused space to experience a tea, the words of a tea aficionado have to be given the space to develop into a crisp share of their experience of being a tea aficionado.
The tea experience is the coming together of a number of factors. The ambience, the aroma, the taste, the subtle nuances, the accompanying accoutrements, the company or the quality of solitude. They all add to the final experience that settles into the sub conscious, only to resurface in that moment when you make a choice to relive the experience. It is a unique experience.
The link between the people I present in each post exists at a subtle level. It may, may not be evident. It maybe that it reveals itself gradually as you savour the words, the evolution process of becoming an aficionado. Either ways it is unique – just like a tea.
This blog is about an experience that knows no timelines or deadlines. The Tea Aficionaods have their moment of sharing their unique experience on a Tea Time(-line).
Michael Harney has been the master tea buyer and blender for Harney & Sons for more than 25 years. He, is a published author and loves to scour the globe for great teas. Author of “The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea” a book he says he modeled after wine books.
My Chinese tea teacher, that crafty Taoist priest Roy Fong, always says tea is the product of heaven, earth and man coming together in harmony. Heaven is the climate, right down to the weather and winds during the short life of the leaf on the bush. Heaven is everything above the surface of the soil. Earth is the soil itself, the terroir from which the tea springs, each district with fresh particularities of difference. It is Man, the human factor, who combines these aspects of Heaven and Earth into Tea.
This Human Factor is what we find in Amita Virmani’s portraits of Tea People.
Besides everything else, a great deal of Care goes into every sip of tea and the Care is theirs. They are heirs to a pre-historic craft and alive as you and me today. But are we as full of hard-won tender Care?
More than a 100 years old, the Goomtee tea estate guest house sits on top of a hill, past the factory that has the year 1899 stamped in a vibrant blue. I am in a room with a view of rolling tea hills that fall away into the distance. I can see the Jungpana tea estate on the opposite hillside. Jungpana, the tea estate that is inaccessible by road. More on Jungpanna later. For now it is with Ashok Kumar the owner of Goomtee, whom I met in his home in Kolkatta after a stay in Goomtee.
The Guest House with a View of rolling hills of tea
This week I would like to share food for the soul and body.
In Dr. Steven Owyoung’s translation of the poetry from the C’a-Ching I find food for the soul. Reading the poem gives you an experience of how tea was approached. How important was each ingredient, each action and the spirit with which the tea maker approached the action of making tea. The poetry is imbued with a reverence for each element. I am transported to another realm as I read. When the reading is accompanied with a fine tea in an ambience such as Steven has created for himself in the ch’i-yuan it can only take you to realms hitherto not remotely experienced!
(For an even more sublime experience visit http://www.tsiosophy.com)
From the sublime to the physical is a journey that is imperative. For it is the physical that can allow the experience of the sublime. Cynthia Gold gives us food for the body with her exotic recipes that use tea as a vital ingredient to enhance the dishes and cocktails she creates after experimenting with combinations, proportions and what have you. Cynthia to me is someone whose passion crosses boundaries and I cannot help but get drawn into the wonderland of cooking with tea.
Enjoy the feast!
A visual feast as we take an inside look at how Cynthia Gold and Steven Owyoung have enriched their own experience of tea. The chi-yuan in Steven Owyoung’s home, the tempting cocktails Cynthia concocts in her laboratory entice the senses.
A visual treat to expand the experience of tea.
Spiced Orange and tea roasted Pork Tenderloin served with mango, peach and habanera salsa
A very fine line existed between chai and tea as I grew up. Tea was served in a teapot , with milk in a creamer and sugar in a sugar pot served in a tray with cups and saucers. The ubiquitous “tea mug” had still not appeared. Of course when we had visitors or were visiting, it was customary to offer tea and be served tea. Tea when said in English in an otherwise Hindi conversation, meant a tea service and chai meant a brew of water, milk, sugar , tea leaves and other condiments. Chai was not at all the thing to drink in the household I grew up in! I grew up drinking tea. My memory of tea is the red Brooke Bond box my mother bought at the grocers. My father believing himself to be a man with a slightly refined taste, bought two different loose teas from a slightly upmarket place and mixed the teas in varying proportions to make his own ‘blend’ which he thought was better then anything being sold in the market. One tea he said was for the color and the other for the aroma and the two together created the perfect cup of tea according to him. I remember the number of times we returned from visiting someone and my father telling my mother that the tea had not quite satiated him because it was a different taste and flavor. I often thought about how a tea could have a different flavor given that it was made with some leaves, milk and sugar and after much pondering put it down to something the adults liked to talk about. I watched the adults consume tea and talk about the ‘blends’ my father created at home, if they can be called “blends” that is. This was in the 60s. Adults drank tea and we children got to look at the beautiful tea service and were allowed to have the sandwiches, biscuits and other snacks that were served with the tea. Until the mid 70s I had not tasted this drink that adults spent so much time over and that seemed to be a staple offering in every household…..