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Awesome Assam Day 2

As I write this, I am re-reading my journal entries and checking the notes that I jotted down sleepily at the end of each day in India. As I do so, I am reminded of the passion and exuberance for tea that all of the tea farmers and processors that we had the pleasure of visiting shared with us. I felt this in Darjeeling and Assam, and I continue to feel it miles away here on another continent where I share it with my customers, family and friends!

On June third we turned into an estate which was not on our itinerary. I wish it had been so we could have spent more time. It is Heritage Tea Estate. As a family run business, they bring in teas from many local small farms and manufacture the leaf for them. But a particular project takes our attention. They are developing remote areas in the mountains bordering China for organic tea planting and processing on a relatively small scale. They are even developing equipment on a small scale so that the leaf can be processed by the farmers in these remote and difficult to access areas.

Heritage1

Assam Heritage Tea5

We don't usually think of green tea when thinking of Assam. But it is produced here starting with the wilting of the leaf and stopping the oxidation process immediately by firing.

Assam Heritage Tea1

[caption id="attachment_2401" align="aligncenter" width="494"]We had a chance to do some tasting even though our time there was short. We had a chance to do some tasting with the owner's son even though our time there was short. Look at those beautiful leaves ready to brew![/caption]

We continued on our journey to Dikom Tea Estate, owned by Rossell. The roads were different from Darjeeling's hairpin routes but from my vantage point, I would say just as hazardous for there were even more cows, goats and dogs sleeping in the middle of the roads! Traffic in both directions on such narrow roads somehow managed to swerve and miss them! By this time on the trip I stopped gasping and holding my breath and just enjoyed the ride!

Our entrance into Dikom Tea Estate is a sweet memory. We were greeted by dancers who ceremoniously drew us into their dance and adorned us with gamochas. It was a very hot day but they were clad in beautiful red and white saris and hair adornments.

Dancing at DikomWe were ushered into the factory and on to the cupping session in the office.

[caption id="attachment_2386" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Tea coming from the fields to be weighed Tea coming from the fields after being weighed[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2390" align="aligncenter" width="600"]immaculate processing Wilted leaf put into huge bins and tossed about before going to the rollers[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2387" align="aligncenter" width="600"]With a bindi on our foreheads, Wanda and I go down the line of cupping! With bindis on our foreheads, Wanda and I go down the line of cupping! Just under my right elbow is the spittoon.[/caption]

Then to the manager's bungalow for a delicious buffet lunch of rice and chicken, mangos and custard, tea and cakes. We were so graciously hosted!

[caption id="attachment_2388" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Dikom bungalow A British colonial lifestyle[/caption]

Dikom hostsI am looking forward to sharing tea from Dikom at the market on August 1 just as our hosts, Samar and his wife shared with us. They gifted us with a delicious tippy golden assam which I am sipping now as I write. Yum! Bright and malty are tasting terms that describe this tea. Bright for lively-looking infused leaf or liquor as opposed to dull-looking; and malty, a favourable term meaning the taste closely resembles the malty flavour derived from germinating barley, corn or oat grains. This is the sign of a well manufactured tea!

[caption id="attachment_2397" align="aligncenter" width="516"]My companion cuppa of Dikom Estate tea. I take milk and no sugar. My companion cuppa of Dikom Estate tea. I take milk and no sugar.[/caption]
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