Thursday, 17 November 2016

Happy valley tea estate - second oldest in Darjeeling

Happy Valley Tea Estate is located at the end of the T. P. Banerje. mobsea.org
A view of Happy Valley Tea Estate in Darjeeling. en.wikipedia.org
 Nothing gives me more pleasure than enjoying a nice  cup of hot tea ` tea in the morning, while browsing through the morning news paper and picking up  sensational scoops here and there. It rejuvenates and helps  me prepare for that particular day's usual mundane life. Drinking tea is part of every culture world over. First introduced in China, it was Dutch East India company that introduced Tea in  Europe and it was a fashionable drink in the Hague in the Netherlands. Only in the 18th century, tea became a popular drink in Britain before that it was not affordable by the commoners. Tea was introduced in India in 1840s as a challenge to Chinese monopoly. Cultivation of tea began in the NE state of Assam by the British. In India, popularity of tea  began in the 1950s and now India  is one of the largest producers and consumers of tea. Here tea from Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri is widely used.

Darjeeling town in the Indian state of West Bengal is a picturesque place and a popular tourist destination.  Located  in the beautiful Lesser Himalaya at an elevation of 6,700 ft (2,042.2 m) it is known for its tea industry which has been there since the colonial days. Here the other attractions are the majestic view of   Mt. Kangchenjunga, the world's third-highest mountain, and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built by the British. Presently the town enjoys partial autonomous status within the state of West Bengal.
Happy Valley Tea Estate overlooking Darjeeling. en.wikipedia.org/
On account of its elevation and pleasant weather conditions this place began to develop into a town in the mid 19th century with the establishment of  a sanatorium, a military depot and later large-scale tea estates by the English. Lots of British families moved in here to run tea estates. The development of  hybrids of black tea using novel  new fermentation techniques resulted in typical, distinctive  Darjeeling tea  that gained world-wide recognition  and is considered as one among the most popular of the black teas.


There are many old tea gardens in and around Darjeeling and the Happy tea garden that was founded in 1854 is Darjeeling's second oldest tea estate, covering over 437-acre, at an elevation of  6,400 ft. (2,100 m) above sea level. It is about three  kilometer from the town and roughly 1500 people are employed in the estate.The first oldest  tea estate is Steinthal Tea Estate which was established in 1852. At  a  height of 6800 feet, it has one of the highest tea factories in the world. Its founder was one David Wilson, an English man who named  the garden as Wilson Tea Estate and began tea production in 1860

The Himalayan Black Bear, . 123RF.com
View of the majestic Himalayan peaks from the estate. krishnaresidencydarj.com
In 1903 for unknown reason, the tea estate changed hands and was bought by one Tarapada Banerjee, an Indian aristocrat from Hoogley. Later  in 1929 he bought the Windsor Tea Estate nearby and merged the two estates under the name of Happy Valley Tea Estate. Later it was managed by the descendants of Banerjee.
After 2007, the tea estate experienced slump and fell on hard time and it   was bought out by S K Bansal, of Ambotia Tea Group, which built  a new factory with modern machinery on the same   premises. He modernized the farming process and switched over  to organic farming. As for the old factory, it has become a museum and  old machines  with single piston slow-speed engines, and the shaft machines, etc., are on display.

Happy Valley tea factory. Tenka Tea - WordPress.com
 Since 2007, the hand-rolled tea produced by Happy Valley has been sold at at Harrods in the UK and is also available at  Mariage Freres in France. An interesting fact is the bushes in the garden are very old - the minimum age is 80 years, and some are 150 years old. Consequently very little re-plantation has been done in the recent past.  The busiest time is between the months of March to May  when plucking and processing are mostly done.. It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ref:

"India Brews a Stronger Cup". TIME. 15 November 2007.
"Tea factory to be open to tourists". The Hindu. 25 March 2008.
Happy Valley Tea Estate
"Harrods to sell hand-rolled Darjeeling tea". Indian Express. 31 May 2008.
"Happy Valley Tea Estate". Lonely planet.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Valley_Tea_Estate