When I travel to tea country I am searching for teas; but the most memorable thing is always the people. Sometimes it’s the beginning of lifelong friendships, sometimes it’s a just a chance encounter on a dusty road. But I remember the people and keep them in my heart, long after I’ve sold out of the teas.
Since March is Darjeeling month I wanted to show some of the wonderful people of Darjeeling I encountered on my last trip to India.
In the offices of Darjeeling tea master and exporter, Rajiv Gupta, receiving a book on Darjeeling he helped produce.
Sudhanshu Kumar Shaw and his manager by the rolling machine at Giddapahar Estate. This is one of our favorite Darjeeling tea gardens.
At Goomtee Tea Estate, they also have a small greenhouse. Here is the assistant manager of the Goomtee factory making sure I have some fresh flowers when it is time to hit the road.
I took a long walk near the Goomtee Estate, these four teenage girls asked me to take their picture.
Immediately after which, they cracked themselves up.
Tea pluckers at the Rohini Estate. One of the few spots where the Darjeeling tea fields are not scaling up a mountainside.
Enjoying tea at a road-side café in the mountains of Darjeeling.
Watching Indian milk tea being made at a stall in Darjeeling near the Nepalese border.
Kids hanging out, while Mom (see above) makes milk tea, and dad laughs in the background.
Cupping teas at the Castleton Estate with one of the assistant managers of the factory making the tea. You can tell they are first flush teas by light golden/yellow color.
Having way too much fun tasting teas, with the manager of the Belgachi Estate, on the outskirts of the Darjeeling district. As we were standing for our formal photo, he suddenly leaped and shoved that bag of tea into my hands.
Siliguri (the largest town in Darjeeling District); two ladies out and about.
A vendor greeting his customer in the Siliguri market area.
A chai wallah selling her chai on the streets of Siliguri.
Kids, on their way home from school near Kuresong, Darjeeling.
Lots of school kids hitching a ride home at the end of the day.
A retired veteran of the India Gurkha Rifles, living the good life on the Nepal/Darjeeling border. One of the most interesting men I’ve ever met.
Walking down the road in this same Darjeeling/Nepal village, Dilma graciously invited me into her home for tea; milk tea it turns out—she had to run out and milk the cow and get some fresh milk.
Dilma, in the living room of her lovely home; with home-made fried sweet bread to go with the tea. She was incredibly gracious and hospitable to a couple of strangers walking down the road.
Rajah Banerjee, the first organic planter in Darjeeling, and the patriarch of Makaibari Tea Estate.
Planting some new tea plants at Margaret’s Hope Estate.
These guys were playing soccer on the dirt road separating two fields of tea plants in lower Darjeeling. Most of them had family working on the tea estates.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, it’s the people that matter the most.
(although a good cup of Darjeeling can be amazing).
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