by Ali Evans on June 19th, 2017
Canton’s Himalayan Heroes
How did tea get to the Himalayas and why is it so good?
In the grand scheme of tea, the Himalayas (those 47 million year old mountains) are a very young tea producing area. By the mid-19th Century the Brits had the beginnings of a serious, population- wide tea addiction on their hands. Reliant on China for their fix (who was not the most stable supply) and not willing to risk running out, they took things into their own hands and went about establishing tea gardens in India, which at the time was under the rule of the British owned East India Company. In 1841 the first tea bushes (pillaged from China) were planted in Darjeeling, which at that time was just a small village in the Himalayas.
Fortunately those Brits had chosen just about one of the best terriors in the world for growing tea. The high altitudes, cool temperatures and rich soil suited those Chinese bushes perfectly. That small village in the hills soon became a bustling centre of tea production. Happily, when the British left India in 1947, the tea gardens were taken on by Indian entrepreneurs who continued to develop the Darjeeling tea industry.
Now, the Himalayan Mountain Range is renowned for producing some of the finest teas in the world. Darjeeling Tea- a household name- often called ‘the Champagne of Tea’ is no longer the only kid on the block, however. Neighbouring Nepal now has an emerging speciality tea industry which grows year on year and produces teas that easily stand up to any high grade Darjeeling. We love both Darjeeling and Nepalese Teas equally, so both had to have a place in our Limited Edition Collection. This spring we have chosen three tea gardens to be our Himalayan Heroes and chosen the best tea they have to offer, to show you what the Himalayas are really capable of!
Our Himalayan Heroes
Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden- Our Nepali Pioneers
In the year 2000, Brothers Lohan and Bachan dreamed up a tea garden in Nepal that would produce unique, high quality teas. By 2002 they had produced their first batch, grown on their own garden and processed using a modified pizza oven. 15 years later they produce some of the finest teas in the Himalayas and we are so happy to work with them.
This Spring, the Canton Limited Edition Collection features the Nepali Spring from Jun Chiyabari. This is a gorgeous, delicate First Flush black tea- the twisted silvery green leaves have a light Lily of the Valley aroma and produce a fresh clean liquor with mineral and fruity notes.
Selimbong Tea Garden- Our Eco Warriors
Established in 1866 and re-born in 1995. The Selimbong Estate was taken over by the wonderful TPI group and converted to organic in 1995, in 1999 it was officially certified by DEMETER as a bio-dynamic garden. This coupled with Fairtrade status makes Selimbong an eco and ethical hero!
It just so happens that their First Flush Darjeeling was the best we tasted this year. Fresh, minerally, floral with notes of pine. An absolute stunner.
Glenburn Tea Garden- Super Speciality
We love Glenburn. It’s a lovely small garden in Darjeeling owned by the Prakash Family, who also own and run the Khongea Estate – source of our delicious Canton Assam. Traditionally the First Flush Darjeeling is a black tea, but Glenburn also make a number of premium quality, handmade speciality teas- including greens, oolongs and white teas and this is what we love them for.
Peach Blossom White was our top pick of their offerings this year. It’s an experimental white tea that really sings with fruity and floral notes. The finished tea liquor carries fragrant notes of pineapple and honey, which are balanced with a crisp, first flush astringency.