if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.”
― William Ewart Gladstone
Palampur, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh (India) is famous with tea lovers around the world for it’s specialty teas. Me being a complete tea
lover addict was most excited to visit tea gardens of Palampur during my long weekendgetaway there. Sharing one of the best experiences of my trip to Palampur ~ a visit to Palampur tea garden and interaction with youngest member of tea board India.
I easily drink about 6-7 cups of tea in a day. BUT, I am a tea purist too, which means my teas are without sugar or milk and are mostly specialty & orthodox black teas (like golden orange pekoe, oolong, earl grey, green tea, etc) which do not have much takers in India. The only information I had about Palampur before visiting it, was it’s tea gardens; it is famous world over for producing specialty teas, of which kangra green tea was most famous (so much so that 90% of the kangra green tea is exported out of the country). I was very curious to experience the tea gardens and tea making process in Palampur; my curiosity increased on spotting tea gardens on way to our accommodation in Palampur – Himachal Heritage Village. At Himachal Heritage Village, Palampur, our host offered kangra green tea to me on learning that I don’t take Chai. That green tea turned out to be excellent and on inquiring, he told me that it’s from his friend’s tea estate, which we will be visiting in the course
of our long weekend getaway in Palampur.
Due to our schedule and sudden change in plans, we could visit tea estate and factory in Palampur on our last day of the trip. But what an exciting experience it was for me!! While other travelers were more interested in clicking photographs of the tea gardens and women picking tea leaves, I was engrossed in interacting with Mr. Rajiv Sood, proprietor of the tea estate.
Mr. Rajiv Sood is the youngest tea board member in India and he has been working in the tea industry for last 10 years. The tea estate in Mandara, Palampur, belonged to his family for generations, however, it was leased to the government. It was Mr. Sood’s determination which saw the tea business revive in his family.
Walking around the tea factory and surrounding tea gardens, he narrated how he has brought in the latest machinery, trained and employed skilled labour and refurbished the factories to produce many kinds of specialty teas. In fact, my mid boggled at the wide variety of specialty teas his estate manufactures. He also explained how labour & effort intensive tea industry is, requiring 24/7 attention. In his own words – Making tea is not a cup of Tea!! Taking a tour around one of his many factories, I could totally realize the amount of effort, time and labour it takes to manufacture tea.
He also was most gracious in replying to my various queries on types of teas and how they are manufactured. When I asked him about marketing the products directly, he said they are available online and more than that, it will take up too much of his time away from manufacturing to market these teas.
We had a bit of fun in the tea gardens after all the information sharing, when we made the women workers pose for us plucking tea (it was a Sunday at the estate and that was a holiday, so Mr. Sood got the women specially pose for us!!).
Finally, we were served the most beautiful green tea and having it amidst the surrounding tea gardens was even more a wonderful experience, as the aroma of the tea and the tea gardens combined together delightfully. I bought tea by bagfuls (sold under brand name Himalayan Brew and also available on amazon) from the estate before heading back to Delhi.
I will always remember my visit to Palampur tea gardens fondly and this is a must visit for any tea (not chai) lover.