I have had a love of India for as along as I can remember. I had the pleasure earlier this year to first get acquainted when I volunteered for an NGO as a Medical Herbalist. I got to experience India in all its regal glory in Rajasthan, based in Udaipur.
I came back refreshed, full of life and bursting with passion to spread the experience and knowledge I gained with my herbalist clients.
So now I have travelled firstly to Assam to surround myself in Tea so I can share that passion and knowledge with my Wildfire customers. And there is no better place to start than Assam, where Indian tea was first discovered.
You see I am a herbalist. And as you know Wildfire specialises in herbal teas blended specifically for your good health.
And we love it.
But is was time for me to go to India to research the knowledge of True Tea.
Camilla sinensis assamica
My tea adventures started in Guwahati, the capital of Assam. It’s hectic, its noisey, it’s dirty and its awesome. The city is bustling with life and I got to experience it during preparation for Durga Puja festival.
So it was a sensory over load and I absorb every single essence of it that I could.
I had the true pleasure of staying at an air bnb Aditya’s Bed & Breakfast ( just google it and you will find them)
If you go to Guwahati and you fancy staying in a clean, centrally located, safe and cute Assamese dwelling then this is where you need to stay. I cant recommend it highly enough.
Aditya’s Bed and Breakfast blue gate on left
The host Hironmoy becomes like family. And I was warmly welcomed with a cup of local Assam black tea. The perfect introduction to my Assam tea adventures.
Early morning walks are a delightful way to see the city. I highly recommend doing so.
I then took myself to Paltan Bazaar. This is the central part of Guwahati and is a hub for transportation and market district. I wandered down the packed streets and took myself into front line tea shops, as there are many dotted along the main stretch. I chatted with the store keepers and purchased myself 100g of orthodox Assam Tea from a local estate. I enjoyed this very much for my next morning cuppa.
Tea Trader in Paltan Bazaar
Then things got real. Tea Real. And more Awesome.
The day started with me zipping around on the back of a motor bike ( arguably the most fun of all!) around chaotic Guwahati city centre, then out down OS Rd to Duncans Tea Ltd.
Then I was very lucky to be introduced to some wonderful tea traders from Duncan Teas. Thankyou Hironmoy for arranging this for me. You are a true marvel.
Their warehouse and trading centre is in the most amazing old building including an old style tiny metal gate lift which just added to the charm.
I was shown around their warehouse and shown the process of grading, tasting and blending teas for the Indian palate.
Duncan Tea Traders Pty CTC Tea tasting and grading room
Dhruba and the staff were a wealth of knowledge and happily shared so much information with me. I had a great time talking and learning about CTC tea. This is when the tea is processed into small hard pellets which replaces the final stages of orthodox tea ( long leaf) which are rolled into strips. CTC is the main market in India for Assam Tea.
We all then went to the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre. Unfortunately it was closed, but I was given the VIP treatment and they opened it up for me giving me my own personal tour.
Guwahati Tea Action Centre. The biggest tea auction in the world. It’s is now all electronic so you can bid from anywhere in the world. Though the seats are usually full every Tuesday and Wednesday when the bidding happens
Next tea tasting and chatting about all things Tea at The GTAC Tea Lounge. And I must say I think it was the best Masala Chai I have ever had! Even the tea brokers where extremely impressed.
I feel a new chai recipe brewing!
I cant thank Dhruba and the others from Duncan Tea LTD for their kindness and generosity. It will be an experience that I wont forget.
Dhruba on the far right and the Duncan Tea Brokers and Bhaskar from an Organic Assam Tea Estate chatting and sipping Tea with me.
So if this is the introduction to my India Tea Adventures I will definitely have many more stories to tell!
Now time to get my bus ticket as I am off on a 4 hour trip from Guwahati to Kanoka Organic Tea Farm.