Home > FAM (Familiarization) Tour, FAM Trip, General, Hill Stations, Margaret's Deck FAM > Tea Processing at Margaret’s Hope, Kurseong

Tea Processing at Margaret’s Hope, Kurseong

Margaret’s Hope, Kurseong

Tea Processing

See also: Maragaret’s Deck FAM

The most common legend related to the discovery of tea dates back to 2737 BC in Yunnan province in China. It happened during the reign of the Emperor Shen Nong. The story narrates that while the emperor was drinking from a bowl, a few leaves from the nearby tea plant fell in it. He liked the resulting beverage, which lead to the world wide phenomenon of tea drinking.

Margaret's Hope tea Factory, Kurseong

Margaret’s Hope tea Factory, Kurseong

Although historians doubt about the authenticity but it was this Yunnan Province that gave the world the habit of drinking tea.

Rolling Tea Gardens , Kurseong (File Photo)

Rolling Tea Gardens , Kurseong (File Photo)

But for several centuries tea remained a medical beverage. It is not known when the ancient Chinese Medical beverage transformed into the most popular beverage of the world.

The evolution of tea is definitely an interesting story, but the story of transforming the two leaves and a bud of the tea plant into a cup of tea is no less interesting and I always wanted to witness it first hand.

The opportunity 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 (See also: Tea and much more and Tea Tasting), an initiative of Goodricke Tea Pot at the Margaret’s Hope tea garden in Kurseong.

Tea Plucking at Castleton Tea Garden, Kurseong  (File Photo)

Tea Plucking at Castleton Tea Garden, Kurseong  (File Photo)

The trip also included a visit to the Margaret’s Hope Tea Factory, but it was month of February, there were no plucking and production (Dec – Feb there is no tea plucking and production), But still it provided us with some idea of the tea processing process.

Road leading to Margaret's Hope Tea Garden

Road leading to Margaret’s 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’s Hope and the name remains to this day.

L: Fan for blowing air and R: Withering Tray, Margaret's Hope Tea Factory, Kurseong

L: Fan for blowing air and R: Withering Tray, Margaret’s Hope Tea Factory, Kurseong

Margaret’s Hope one of the largest tea estate in Darjeeling District produces high quality Orthodox tea. (To know more about types of tea do read my blog post Tea Tasting at Margaret’s Deck)

Rolling Machine, Margaret's Hope Tea Factory

Rolling Machine, Margaret’s Hope Tea Factory

Tea leaves are hand plucked mainly by women and are transported to the factory, located within the tea estate.

In the factory it goes through the following steps:

  1. Withering
  2. Rolling
  3. Oxidizing
  4. Drying
  5. Sorting

Withering: Withering is the process of initially drying of the leaves. Large fans blow air through freshly plucked tea leaves, kept on long shallow trays. This is done because freshly plucked tea leaves are fragile and can easily break apart, withering softens the tea leaves, making them flexible and supple so they won’t crumble during the rest of the processing steps.

L: Oxidization Trays and R: Drying Machine, Margaret's Hope Tea Factory, Kurseong

L: Oxidization Trays and R: Drying Machine, Margaret’s Hope Tea Factory, Kurseong

Rolling: In rolling process the soft tea leaves are rolled and shaped in machine. In this process the cell wall of the tea leaves break releasing the enzymes and essential oils, which will eventually flavour the tea. In this stage  the tea leaves start developing their unique appearance and flavor profiles. Rolling exposes the chemical components of the tea leaves to oxygen and initiates the oxidation process.

Sorting Machines, Margaret's Hope Tea Factory

Sorting Machines, Margaret’s Hope Tea Factory

Oxidation: Oxidation is a chemical reaction that alters the flavor of tea and helps the processed tea develop its ultimate appearance and color. This happens naturally, on long shallow trays.

Black teas are highly oxidized and have dark colour with strong flavour. Olong tea is less oxidized. Green and White tea are least oxidized.  (To know more about types of tea do read my blog post Tea Tasting at Margaret’s Deck)

Drying: Drying, also refereed to as firing, is the final drying process. This stops the oxidation process and removes further moisture, so that the tea leaves can be stored without spoiling.

Manager's Bungalow. Margaret's Hope Tea Estate, Kurseong

Manager’s Bungalow. Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate, Kurseong

Sorting: Once the leaves are properly dried they are machine sorted according to the  size of the leaves, to create different lots of teas. These lots of tea receive different industry grades that rate how the tea visually looks depending on how much whole leaf, broken leaf or unopened tea buds end up in the lot. These grading systems don’t necessarily determine quality, though. The best measure of quality is how the final tea tastes. (see also: Tea Tasting at Margart’s Deck)

Our session at Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate ended with hot cups of exotic tea at the bungalow of the tea estate manager.

Note:

  • This article is part of a FAM Trip organised by Goodricke with MSL Group as the PR agency
  • File Photos are not shot in this FAM Trip

Special Thanks:

  • 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 PoornaDolonIndraniManjulika abd Aditi

 

 

 

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  1. July 7, 2017 at 12:42 PM

    loved it! Last year I was travelling Darj this time.

    • July 16, 2017 at 10:36 AM

      Dear Orange Wayfarer
      Next time in Darjeeling do try to spend a couple of days in Kurseong. Kurseong has always lived in the shadows of its more celebrated sister Darjeeling, but Kurseong has her own identity don’t miss it.

  2. Taj Universal Trip
    August 9, 2017 at 12:54 PM

    This is very nice train tour trip is very interesting trip. Thank you so much offered for sharing for provide you.
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