Drink Tea in Darjeeling - And Then Look For Coffee!


By Hannah Douglas.

In Darjeeling, you can’t just simply sit down for a cup of tea. Tea connoisseurs will have you start sniffing the stuff, examining the leaves and sifting them in your palms, before the pot even starts brewing.

It’s a long, steep walk downhill to visit the handful of tea gardens in the Darjeeling area, such as the Happy Valley Tea Estate. (Okay, it’s really only a couple miles north of the center of town.)

Darjeeling tea estate, Darjeeling pictures, Darjeeling India
Winding trail down to Happy Valley Tea Estate. Photo credit: Soline Kauffmann.
 
On my recent pursuit of the tea plantation there, a retired plantation worker, who opens her home to tourists for teatime, insisted on serving me some tea and making it an educational experience.

Darjeeling tea estate, Darjeeling, Darjeeling India
Workers homes in the distance of the tea plantation hub in Darjeeling. Photo credit: Soline Kauffmann.
For unnecessarily lengthy periods of time, we talked about steep settings, plucking procedures and whatever else she could come up with, until I really just wanted a cup of coffee. At present, Darjeeling, a prime tourist destination does actually have plenty of places to get black coffee, aka a ‘cup of the real stuff.’ Still, it’s after all that chatter, after the lesson in patience, when you take that first sip, that you’ll forget the coffee bean. I really mean it.

You somehow, someway see yourself slow down, learn to savour and to so delicately and completely forget everything else you were doing. It’s a cup of tea. It’s Darjeeling.

India tea estates, Darjeeling photos, Darjeeling tea estate
View into the field of tea. Photo credit: Soline Kauffmann.

Author Bio: The author is an independent multimedia journalist and travel writer originally from Springfield, Illinois, currently writing and researching in New Delhi. She was scheduled to return home to the San Francisco Bay Area weeks ago, but she just hasn’t quite been able to board the plane yet. Her focus is on health policy, education reform and new media. Connect with her and see more of her travels at: hannahtravels.com or on Twitter: @hannahtravels.

For more stories off the beaten path in India, visit www.indiauntravelled.com or join India Untravelled on Facebook and TwitterTo contribute guest posts / photo essays to this blog, please send your story ideas to shivya@indiauntravelled.com

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