History of Tea Gardens in Darjeeling
The history of the tea gardens can be traced back to 1852 when Darjeeling was only a tiny hamlet and was used as a hill resort by the British officials and their families. The British started planting tea leaves here and to gather man power, labour was hired even from across the Nepal border. Gradually the business took shape and in 1866 alone, there were 39 flourishing tea estates. In 1870, the number increased to 56 and eventually, Darjeeling became one of the best tea producing estates in the country.
Best Tea Gardens in Darjeeling
1. Puttabong Tea Estate
Originally known as Tukvar Tea Estate, Puttabong Tea Estate is considered to be the oldest tea estate in Darjeeling. Based at an altitude of 1500 to 6500 ft., the sprawling beautiful tea garden also overlooks the snow capped Kanchenjunga Peak. The estate uses sustainable production and techniques like vermicompost, cattle farming and liquid fertilizers etc. It produces some of the best quality tea in the world.
2. Glenburn Tea Estate
Glenburn Tea Estate was established by the Scotts in 1859. It is a beautiful tea estate with the River Rungeet flowing below it. It was later handed off to private ownership - the Prakashes. Currently, the entire garden looks like a gorgeous European vineyard. Here you can not only taste aromatic tea but also have a fully informed guided tour, delicious snacks and calming nature walks. You can also witness the entire procedure of making teas in the factory.
3. Makaibari Tea Estate
Makaibari was formed in 1859 and has been with the Banerjee’s ever since. It has been passed on to four generations and is known to house the first ever tea factory in the world. The owners and producers use organic methods to grow premium quality tea. You can taste some of it, inhale the aroma and also take back some with you when you go back.
4. Gopaldhara Tea Estate
Gopaldhara Tea Estate is one of the relatively newer tea estates that was established in 1955. It is one of the largest producers of tea and exports large quantities of it. Spread over 320 hectares, the estate is set at an elevation of 5500 to 7000 ft. Some of the best tea types produced here include Pearl Tea, Stupa, Olympic Flame, Silver Needles and more.
5. Okayti Tea Estate
Okayti Tea Estate was established in 1870s and is also one of the oldest tea estates in the country. Also called Rangdoo Tea Estate, this one is flanked by two other tea gardens on the side. It produces a large quantity of premium tea and has vast sprawling gorgeous gardens that are a treat to the eyes. Here you can find the special black teas, white teas and green teas etc.
6. Happy Valley Tea Estate
Happy Valley Tea Estate is one of the most commercial tea estates in Darjeeling where tourism is at its peak. The tourists visit Happy Valley to witness the process of tea plucking, reaping and processing. Other than tasting deliciously aromatic cups of piping hot teas, you can also purchase tea here at the estate. Known for its beautiful meadows, the Happy Valley Tea Estate is a must visit here.
Nature Walks in Tea Gardens in Darjeeling
Nature Walks in the resplendent tea gardens is the most loved activity when in Darjeeling. And what is better than to enjoy a soothing long walk in a heavenly tea estate and sip on sweet aromatic tea while you are at it. You can engage with the workers and help them pluck teas. Or you can go to the factories and watch the making of these fine tea powder. Or better still, pick up some to take it back home with you to relish a little piece of Darjeeling in the humdrum of life.
So what are you waiting for? Head off to the ‘mecca of tea’ right away. Soak in the sun, bask in nature and have a delicious cup chai to add on to the experience. Happy Tea Tourism!