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Dreaming of Harishpur

Arriving at yet another paradise was almost more than one could wish for! Harishpur, you are in my dreams! It was late in the afternoon, but not too late to take a tour of the lush tea fields before settling for the evening.

[caption id="attachment_2415" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Arriving to a pristine and more modern bungalow Arriving to a pristine and more modern bungalow[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2423" align="alignleft" width="700"]inside our guest house! inside our guest house[/caption]

There are 765 tea estates in Assam and more than 100,000 smaller gardens that together produce 570 million kilos of tea annually, more than half the tea consumed by India and 13 percent of global tea production! Harishpur Tea Gardens (Chah Bagicha) is a two hour drive from the Dibrugarh Airport. Here we are, slightly west and south of China, north of Bangladesh, east of Bhutan and Nepal, and in the midst of heaven!

Our hostess, Suparna, is a lady of action! She loves her family's estate and its history and honours it most beautifully. I share with you a blog of Shabnam's--one of our tea group on this tour. Here is a quote from her recent Tea Emporium blog:

"As a woman, I take great energy from women, and there is truly only one word I can use to describe Suparna Bagchi--FIERCE! She is determined and strong, she is focused and dedicated. She is the beating heart and glowing soul of this tea estate."

[caption id="attachment_2417" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Suparma and her brother, Sumit by the ancestral tea 'bush' in the centre of the estate gardens Suparna and her brother, Sumit by the ancestral tea 'bush' in the centre of the estate gardens[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2433" align="aligncenter" width="600"]an evening of entertainment and enchanting music an evening of entertainment and enchanting music[/caption]

We slept under mosquito nets, awoke to the singing of the tea pluckers as they walked down the road to the fields in the morning, and began our day with an early morning tour of the estate factory.

[caption id="attachment_2420" align="aligncenter" width="700"]With my deaf ear up, I did not hear mosquitoes, but my roommate did! With my deaf ear up, I did not hear mosquitoes, but my roommate did![/caption]

This was a happy place. The workers learned weaving, sewing, basketry and other crafts which they sold in a humble shop on the premises. Suparna expressed her love and interest in her workers, and often went to the fields with them.

Singing at Harishpur

[caption id="attachment_2422" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Sorting the leaves Sorting the leaves[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2425" align="aligncenter" width="640"]handwoven warp reminded me of my youth when I attended the Handcraft School Watching the fabric grow reminded me of my youth when I learned to weave.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2427" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Good bye Harishpur. Dare I say, I'll be back? Ahh, Harishpur. Dare I say, I'll be back? Yes, shoes came off at the door.[/caption]

Suparna gifted us with a variety of teas before we left. She served us a green tea which she loves upon our arrival, and several times during our stay we sipped the superior quality black teas that the Bagchi family has produced for more than a century.

[caption id="attachment_2430" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Receiving our gifts Receiving our gifts - cup of her favourite tea in my hand![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2431" align="aligncenter" width="640"]a treasure of teas a treasure of teas[/caption]

Their gardens are known for their highly aromatic golden tippy leaf, which has malty notes and sweet nuances that they say gives a unique garden to cup experience. We enjoyed a spiced chai just before leaving that was so sweet and smooth! I craved another cup, but we were on a tight schedule. Our driver, Rajeev was waiting!

The warm hospitality offered by all of our hosts of this trip made me very happy that I had taken some PEI gifts for several of our hosts. I gave Suparna some handmade goats milk soap from Kettlegrove Soaps and ChocFullofGood pralines with fillings made from my teas. Since there are so many goats in Assam, I wonder if Suparna, with her desire to promote her workers' handmade products, will figure out a way for them to produce soap! Both these products are from vendors at the Charlottetown Farmers Market.

Until next week, Keep calm and drink Assam!

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