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The Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella got its first look at the principal ingredient of chocolate when Columbus returned in triumph from America and laid before the Spanish throne a treasure trove of many strange and wonderful things. Click here

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Into the Serenity of Arya Tea Estate

It has always been an exciting moment for me when a particular tea garden visit is on the calendar. From the hustle and bustle of a busy township and far far away from the madding crowd, I have always found the tea gardens spread its wings, engulfing me with a delight of happiness, energy, clean air and above all absolute silence which is pierced only by the chirping birds. It's a tremendous feeling. Today, I am posting about my visit to one of such tea gardens ? Arya Tea Estate.

Last year as I was having a private meeting with a business partner (at his house), both of us were served tea manufactured at Arya Tea Estate. Upon enquiry, I was told that it was "Arya Ruby" ? A special tea made from AB-2 clone bushes (AB-2 is a particular type of clonal bush; there are other varieties of clonal bushes as well; AB-2 is one of the best) and purely bio-organic. I liked the tea very much and instantly made up my mind to procure this tea when the time was right.Now it was time I put on my boots and walk towards fulfillment of my resolution to procure 'Arya Ruby'. My friend Chandan and I jumped on to the seats and drove towards Arya. Ruby is no doubt a very good tea, but the road to Arya is really bad.

It was a downhill drive and so steep that a four-wheel drive could also fail while returning back if the driver was not experienced to traverse such steepness. Our driver gave up the idea of driving downhill and we didn't want to take the risk.Guess what happened next? Both of us started hiking down the hill and as we were walking, we could feel the tremendous gravitational force acting upon us.

We lowered our pace fearing that we would tumble down. Guess what will happen to this road during the monsoons when most of the roads become slippery.After a while, the hustle and bustle of a busy township was left behind and a complete silence blanketed the entire environment. We could see Darjeeling town hanging in the sky, and seemed as if it was resting on beautiful patches of white clouds. It was a tremendous feeling to walk in-between the tea bushes; touch them, smell them and even rest on them . The only thing we could hear is the birds sing and yes of course tea pluckers gossiping while they were busy engaged in picking the tea leaves with their tender hands.

Yes, only the women folk are allowed for tea plucking during the peak first flush season because it is believed that "tender hands do tender plucking".We could also see that some parts of the garden were getting new tea bushes and laborers could be seen working. "Sir, where are you from? Do you like the garden?", a shout came from above the hill. It was a fellow tea garden worker who had noticed us taking a rest after a perspiring walk.

Some shouting from below and above the hill occurred in order to communicate ? he was quite at a distance and normal conversation volume could be unheard. We too had to shout.Surprisingly other tea estates were visible from Arya.

On the left we could see Orange Valley Tea Estate and further on to the next hill, Risheehat could be seen resting in serenity. Oh! a breathtaking view which only an eye which perceived it can describe it better.After an hour, we reached the factory where Mr.

S. Roy, Manager, Arya Tea Estate, was expecting us. He welcomed us and we were offered some tea ? it was not Ruby, but plain FTGFOP1. Now the real play of porcelain came into play ? Ruby was prepared. The normal tea tasting procedure followed ? it was just the tea I wanted and my dream to procure Ruby was fulfilled.

Apart from Ruby, we tasted other teas like Arya White Tea. A marvellous white tea with almost transparent liquor perfumed with veggie notes, but very expensive.After tasting and payment paper work was done, we went around the factory and sat for a while chatting with the manager. He informed us that none of the Arya products go to the auctions and all of their products are sold in private.

This means that Arya Ruby is not available in abundance and is only with selected people like us . He further added that Ruby is produced on a very limited basis and was hard to fulfill the demand. Guess we are lucky to get it during the peak First Flush tea season.As you know that we had gone hiking, it was not possible to get the teas on our back and hike back. The manager promised to deliver the goods at our place the following day.

They have their own experienced drivers, but all of them need to do the four-wheel drive.We left the factory and went to Gaudan uncle's house. Mr.

Gaudan Gurung is a close family friend of Chandan who lives in the tea garden area. He is not a tea labourer, but a renowned personality in the Arya area who has been burdened with the welfare of the tea laborers. We were offered lunch prepared with vegetables grown in their own neighbourhood ? 100% organic.

Ah! it was a real delight.We were lucky for we didn't have to hike back uphill, Gaudan uncle was going to town on his vehicle. We hopped on to it and started on the uphill task which made my heart shriek.

Guess, Mr. Gaudan's son who was driving, was an experienced driver and reached us in "One Piece".

.Author: Benoy Thapa is a Tea Lover from Darjeeling, India.

His love for tea has ignited a fire in him to write out his thoughts on tea and share it with the world. He has a tea company based in Darjeeling, which deals with exotic Darjeeling Teas. You can check his Darjeeling Tea company's site at http://www. . His personal tea blog can also be seen at

By: Benoy Thapa


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