Darjeeling Tea. As exotic and mysterious as the hills themselves. A tradition steeped in history and a mystique that is felt in every sip. Walk into the cloudy mountains and feel light hearted.
First planted in the early 1800s, the incomparable quality of Darjeeling Teas is the result of its locational climate, soil conditions, altitude and meticulous processing. About 10 million kilograms are grown every year, spread over 17,500 hectares of land. The tea has its own special aroma, that rare fragrance that fills the senses. Tea from Darjeeling has been savoured by connoisseurs all over the world. Like all luxury brands Darjeeling Tea is aspired to, worldwide.
Celebrate existence, and with it the legends that make Darjeeling Tea the most coveted tea in the world. Let it overwhelm your senses.
Darjeeling, where the breath of the Himalayas surrounds the traveller and the deep green valleys sing all around. Darjeeling is where the world’s most fabled tea is born. A tea that echoes mystery and magic in every sip.
Darjeeling lies to the north east of India, among the great Himalayas, in the state of West Bengal. Every morning, as the mist rises from the mountains, women tea pluckers make their way up the steep mountain paths towards the 87 fabled gardens that have been producing the highly prized black teas of Darjeeling. Located on grand estates veiled in the clouds, the gardens are in fact plantations that, at times, stretch over hundreds of acres. But, they are still ‘gardens', because all tea grown here carries the name of the estate, or garden, in which it is grown.
It is believed that the Himalayan range is the abode of the deity Shanker Mahadeva, and it is the breath of God that brings the winds that cool the brow of the sun-filled valley, and the mist and fog which provide the unique quality. Darjeeling was born, they say, as a thunderbolt from the sceptre of Indra.
Darjeeling Tea cannot be grown or manufactured anywhere else in the world. Just as Champagne is indigenous to the Champagne district of France, so is Darjeeling Tea to Darjeeling.
The crafting of Darjeeling Tea begins in the field. Where women workers begin plucking early in the morning, when the leaves are still covered with dew. The spirals of walking women gradually twist, then unfold to form a line. The tea is picked fresh every day, as fresh as the crisp green leaves can make them. The tea bushes are mystic messages on the Earth’s canvas. A tale of excellence, brewed cup by cup, produced with the loving care lavished by the workers. Caressed to state-of-the art perfection by unchanging tradition. Quality that is cherished worldwide.
The earth sings for you in Darjeeling. The women pluckers smile and, with the radiance of their joy, the sun rises over the gardens. Behind them, set against the rosy dawn sky, loom the snows of Kanchenjunga.
The gardens are brushed by thick clouds and cool mountain air and washed by pure mountain rain. The rainfall on the leaves sings a song of green and the earth gives up its warm breath. Darjeeling Tea yields its highly sought subtle fragrance only in this climate. And at daybreak, when the birds begin their morning songs, the sun’s rays transform the mist into dew pearls on the leaves.
The sun traces its path across the heavens leisurely. Stars that are unreachable suddenly seem ready to be touched. The hum of nocturnal life which characterises the mountains sings a melody that has to be felt rather than heard. A cool rustling breeze dances across the land. The earth is as majestic as the tea that is born there.
It’s an idyllic existence close to nature’s heartbeat. That’s what makes this tea so unique. The tea pluckers sing of the tiny saplings which bend in the wind as they work. A melody of greenness surrounded by blue skies and the sparkle of the mountain dews. And tied to the circle of life, the tea bushes sustain themselves day in day out, season after season, through the years. Life on a plantation is a completely natural, refreshing state of being.
True Darjeeling Tea possesses a flavour and quality, which sets it apart from other teas. As a result it has won the patronage and recognition of discerning consumers worldwide for more than a century. Darjeeling Tea that is worthy of its name cannot be grown or manufactured anywhere else in the world.
All teas produced in the tea growing areas of India, including Darjeeling, are administered by the Tea Board, India under the Tea Act, 1953. Since its establishment, the Tea Board has had sole control over the growing and exporting of Darjeeling Tea and it is this which has given rise to the reputation enjoyed by Darjeeling Tea. The Tea Board has been engaged in the protection and preservation of this treasured icon of India’s cultural heritage as a Geographical Indication on a worldwide basis.
To assist the Tea Board in its role of authenticating regional origin of Darjeeling Tea, it has developed a unique logo, known as the Darjeeling logo.
At a legal level, Tea Board is the owner of all intellectual property rights in the Darjeeling word and logo both in common law and under the provisions of the following statutes in India:
•The Trade Marks Act 1999 DARJEELING word and logo are registered certification marks of Tea Board;
•The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999: DARJEELING word and logo were the first Geographical Indications to be registered in India in the name of the Tea Board;
•The Copyright Act, 1957: The DARJEELING logo is copyright protected and registered as an artistic work with the Copyright Office.
Section 24.9 of the TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) states that no foreign jurisdiction is obliged to safeguard any Geographical Indication if the same has not been properly protected and enforced in the home country. With this principle in mind, an online system to monitor the supply chain system of the Darjeeling Tea has been introduced lately. A Kolkata based software firm, with prior experience in the Tea Trade has been appointed to develop, monitor and maintain a software system where the entire trade chain can be tracked down, right from the Tea gardens to the final shelves where the premium Darjeeling Teas are kept before reaching the Tea Connoisseurs across the world. This system will be extended to the ground level checking as well. To this effect, a renowned international agency has been appointed to conduct onsite checks on quality and homogeneity of the teas packed based on organoleptic parameters as well as the packaging and proper and optimum use of the logo and mark. This is undoubtedly a giant leap towards enforcements of rights and reputation across the globe.
Use of the Darjeeling word and logo are protected as Geographical Indications in India and as Certification Trade Marks in UK, USA and India.
The DARJEELING logo is registered in Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, (former) Yugoslavia, Egypt and Lebanon as a collective mark, in Canada as an official mark and as a trademark in Japan and Russia. The DARJEELING word is also registered as a trademark in Russia. Tea Board has registered the Darjeeling word as a certification mark in Australia, as a community collective mark in the EU and as a collective mark in Germany and Japan. (Register for use of Darjeeling)
As a pre-requisite for domestic and international protection of Darjeeling as a certification trademark and a Geographical Indication, the Tea Board has formulated and put in place a comprehensive certification scheme wherein the definition of Darjeeling Tea has been formulated to mean tea that:
• is cultivated, grown or produced in the 87 tea gardens in the defined geographic areas and which have been registered with the Tea Board;
• has been cultivated, grown or produced in one of the said 87 tea gardens;
• has been processed and manufactured in a factory located in the defined geographic area; and
• when tested by expert tea tasters, is determined to have the distinctive and naturally occurring organoleptic characteristics of taste, aroma and mouth feel, typical of tea cultivated, grown and produced in the region of Darjeeling, India.
The certification scheme put in place by the Tea Board covers all stages from the production level to the export stage and meets the dual objective of ensuring that (1) tea sold as Darjeeling Tea in India and worldwide is genuine Darjeeling Tea produced in the defined regions of the District of Darjeeling and meets the criteria laid down by the Tea Board and (2) all sellers of genuine Darjeeling Tea are duly licensed. This licensing program affords the Tea Board the necessary information and control over the Darjeeling Tea industry to ensure that tea sold under the certification marks adheres to the standards for DARJEELING Tea as set forth by the Tea Board.
Thus, only 100% Darjeeling Tea is entitled to carry the DARJEELING logo. While purchasing Darjeeling Tea, you need to look for Tea Board’s certification and license number, or else you will not get the taste and character that you should expect from Darjeeling Tea.
There is a rare charm in the taste of Darjeeling Tea which makes it irresistible. The fine wine of teas is ideally to be drunk from the finest porcelain. After all, these are the rarest and most prestigious of teas and are savoured worldwide. The delicate flavour of the tea can be savoured at its best sans milk and sugar.
Tea is a work of art and needs a master hand to bring out its noblest qualities. Here are a few steadfast guidelines to follow in order to achieve the perfect cup.
Fill the kettle or teapot with freshly drawn cold water (it must contain oxygen in order to bring out the full flavour of the tea). We recommend using fresh water because the quality of your water will directly affect the taste of your tea. When the water is near boiling point, pour a little into the teapot, swirl around, and tip away. This leaves a hot, clean teapot.
Measure the tea carefully into the pot, allowing one rounded teaspoon or one teabag for each cup required. Many people prefer to use a tea ball or filter to keep the leaves from spreading throughout the teapot. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Do not allow it to boil too long, as it will boil away some of the flavour-releasing oxygen and result in a flat cup of tea.
Pour the water onto the leaves or tea bags. This saturates the tea allowing the flavour to release naturally. Do not pour the water and then add the tea, this will only result in a poor cup of tea.
Darjeeling Tea can be enjoyed not just for its taste but because it is truly good for you. Rich in anti-oxidants, this amazing tea strengthens your immune system. It courses through your veins and helps you unwind. Relaxing, mystical, magical.
Seasons are the dance of Darjeeling Tea. The dance begins in spring, waltzes through the summer and ends in autumn. That is the rhythm of the year on the gardens.
Nothing is purer or more unique than the fragrance from the cup. The tea is the essence of the mists, the green leaves and the blue skies. Take a deep breath and feel it stir your soul. To drink Darjeeling is to free the mind and absorb the sun.