Tea Tasting at Margaret’s Deck, Kurseong
Tea Tasting at Margaret’s Deck
Goodricke’s Margaret Hope Tea Estate, Kurseong
See also: Maragaret’s Deck FAM
If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are exxcited, it will calm you.
William Gladstone, former Prime Minister of United Kingdom
But I always wanted to have a tea tasting experience at the heart of chai country. The opportunity again came from Goodricke, with MSL Group as the public relation partner.
I was invited, along with a host of other bloggers, for a food and tea tasting session at the Margaret’s Deck, an initiative of Goodricke Tea Pot at the Margaret Hope tea garden in Kurseong.
Located just a few hundred yards north of the Tung Station on the famous Darjeeling Himalayan railway (DHR) (Also read: Chasing the DHR) the Mragaret’s Deck is shaped like a ship deck, which offers a 270 degree view of the rolling hills of the Margaret Hope tea garden.
The plantation of the Margaaret Hope tea garden dates back to 1862 when it was known as Chota Ringtong (some say Bada Ringtong). It was managed by Mr. Cruickshank, her youg daughter fell in love with the lush green hills and meandering avenues of the tea estate.
Sadly Margaret’s love affair with the hill was short lived, as she had to make a journey back home to England. She promised to return soon, but her promise was never kept as a sudden illness grasped her on her voyage home and she passed away never to return again.
Her father christened the garden Margaret Hope and today the Margaret’s Deck stand as a mute witness to Margaret’s eternal love for the amazing tea estate.
The Margaret’s Deck consists of two parts, the lobby and the restaurant area with an open kitchen.
The lobby also houses a small tea outlet along with posters depicting the history of tea.
Before the hands on experience of tea tasting we were introduced to the world of tea.
Tea is generally processed in two method:
- CTC (crush, tear and curl): The CTC process is normally used for Assam Tea, known for its distinctive liqueur and is served with milk.
- Orthodox: Orthodox tea is from the Darjeeling area. It is leafy in texture and is served with out milk.
Colours of Orthodox Tea: The colours of the leafy orthodox tea depends on the oxidation process
- White: The leaves and buds are withered and dried, often naturally in the sun
- Green: The leaves are kept in a steam bath to cease the oxidation process. Then the leaves are withered, hand rolled and dried
- Olong: Partially oxidised teaa. The leaves are kept in a room with high temperature and controlled humidity level, to initiate gentle oxidation
- Black: Highly oxidised tea. The enzymatic oxidationgives the black colour and strong flavour
Flushes of Tea: In the Darjeeling area tea leaves are plucked from march till October. This period is broken down into four flushes.
- First Flush: (early March – mid April) Also called the spring flush, it produces a very light colour tea.
- Second Flush: (mid May – end June) Also called the Summer Flush. The famous Muscatel tea is produced in this flush
- Monsoon Flush: (September) Matured leaves are pickedd aand low quality tea is produced
- Autumn Flush: (mid October – end November) this is the final harvest of the season, producing low quality tea.
The tea made these flushes differ considerably in colour, taste and flavour. Moreover tea from the same flush differ from one garden to another and even within the garden. This is not easy to find the difference and only an experienced tea taster can do it, no wonder they receive fat salary.
By the time the introduction was complete, the tea tasting platter was laid for us. We were divided into groups of tea and each had a sample of five teas. The sample consists of tea leaves, liqueur and infusions.
We were told the process of tea tasting starts with 2.5 gms of tea over which 160 ml of boiling water is poured it is brewed for 5 minutes (3 minutes for drinking tea) and the tea is filtered and poured in a cup.
The liquids in the cup look distinctively different, starting from pale almost colourless yellow to dark brown.
We were told to slurp the tea, not sip it. We made the most reared sound while slurping the tea.
After each sample we were told to express the taste, something very difficult to describe and all of us came out with the most constructing opinions.
But for all of us the tea just not looked different they tasted different too. Finally the master tea taster disclosed the names of the teas in the five sample. Sample 1: White Tea, Sample 2: Green Tea, Sample 3: Second Flush Muscatel, Sample 4: Assam Orthodox and Sample 5: Assam CTC.
- To the entire Goodricke team at Margaret’s Hope, Goodricke Teapot, Kurseong for the endless cups of teas, the wwouth watering food and the warm hospitality
- To Anushka of MSL Group for all the coordination
- To all my fellow bloggers Poorna, Dolon, Indrani, Manjulika abd Aditi