Manish Bhartia


September 7 2014

We are pleased to welcome a new Correspondent,   Manish Bhartia

                      Chaiwalk – into the world of Tea Tourism”

Assam, the North Eastern state of India, land of rich biodiversity with varieties of Flora and Fauna, is an attractive destination , perfectly suitable for tourist to spend quality time amidst nature away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Tea, an integral part of Assam, has given rise to a new format of tourism called ‘Tea tourism’. The lush green carpet of Tea bushes spread till your vision can take you through, gives an enthralling view. Staying in British era bungalows watching the journey of your favorite brew from the leaf stage in Tea garden to your cup and savoring the fresh one, is indeed very amusing.

We had this exciting opportunity of hosting a couple from Germany, Nina and Johannes, at our Tea Garden located at Jeypore village, some 60 kms away from Dibrugarh, the nearest airport. Being a first for us to host guest from abroad, we had a mixed feeling of excitement and nervousness. The guest arrived late in the evening and since it was already dark so we didn’t plan much to do, just some chit chatting about the place and people, quick dinner and called it a day. Their stay arrangements were done at one of the staff’s place.

Day in Tea garden starts quite early, so do our guest’s next day, with freshly brewed Assam (Tea). The day’s itinerary included visiting Tea garden, watching Tea processing and some local sightseeing. After breakfast we went to the garden to watch Tea leaf plucking. The rain fed green carpet of Tea leaves glowing under the sun rays and the plucker workers joined together to welcome our guest couple, surprising and smiley faces filled with expressions of excitement. Leaf plucking is done by both the male and the female workers but mainly females with their nimble hands due to the tender nature of the bushes. The Tea bushes maintain the same height throughout their life cycle because they are pruned at the end of every season. There are various styles of pruning depending on the bush type, leaf plucking cycle, etc. Our German friends also tried their newly acquired skills of leaf plucking.  Nina, one of the guest, went a step ahead. She wore a Jappi (traditional hat) with a bamboo basket hanging on her back to look exactly like the plucker woman, trying her hands on plucking and she was a quick learner on it which earned her a lot of appreciations. From here we moved ahead to see the processing plant. It was a black CTC tea manufacturing Plant. CTC stands or Cut , Tear and Curl. Tea leaves brought from the garden were being spread on the ‘Troughs’ for ‘withering’ from where they are fed into CTC machine. After ‘fermenting’ and ‘drying’ , it goes to the ‘sorting chamber’ for getting sorted into different grades or types. Finally packed into big bags, ready to be dispatched. Throughout the tour, our guest couple were keenly observing and listening to the factory manager who acted as a guide. The expressions on their  faces and frequent questions clearly showed how surprised and excited they were seeing the tea processing right in front of them. The ‘chaiwalk’ came to end with a cup of freshly brewed Assam.

By this time the lunch was ready. Next part of the tour included local sightseeing. After lunch we set out to see Buddhist Monasteries, Temples, rain-forest jungle, village woman folk working on handlooms carving out traditional designer clothes, tasted some local delicacies and had a ride on a country boat over ‘Burhi Dihing’ river, a tributary of river Brahmaputra flowing nearby.  For the evening, an outdoor bonfire get together was planned , but due to sudden heavy downpour, we had to remain confined indoors. After dinner, played some indoor card games, chit-chatting, etc. till the time all were fully drained out of energy. Next day morning marked the departure of Nina and Johannes and we had to let them go with a promise to meet again.

Some explanatory pictures