If Darjeeling is referred to as the ‘Champagne of tea’, a good quality Assam garden such as Khongea, produces the best 'single malt whiskies’ of tea." - Sudhir Prakesh
All plucking at Glenburn tea estate in Darjeeling is done with the dainty fingers of little Nepalese ladies. They pick the top two leaves and a bud. A healthy tea plant will have bright green shoots!
Moisture needs to be released from the tea leaves! Depending on the weather tea masters dry the tea leaves with natural air. Sometimes with a fan from top to bottom to get even distribution so tea leaves become placid to concentrate the juices so the flavor is not lost!
At this point the Tea Master measures smell, color, temperature and humidity of the tea leaves. It is like cooking they say! They rely on their nose and years of experience to know when fermentation is finished as the instruments used only back up the nose.
Everyday is different - if it misty and foggy or bright & sunny brings different moisture in the air and that is why tea is an art!
As the tea leaves darken from green to brown from being heated, the leaves open and the sweetness and flavor comes out!
There are many grades to tea but first it is separated into groups of dust, fannings, broken leaf and whole leaf
Once the tea has been processed it is time to try it! You have to slurp the tea and swish it around to get all the flavors. We were at Glenburn Tea Estate during a full blood moon and got to try a special tea made during this time!