Friday, October 31, 2008

Tea Manufacturers India

Tea and Wine: Educating the palate
Why do connoisseurs pay more for a Chateau Neuf du Pape or a Merlot and insist on a particular year over the others? And how much did you pay for it? When was the last time you bought wine which said ‘French Table Wine, and poured out of a box?
On the other hand why do the same people feel content buying tea out of a box, which says Indian or Ceylon tea?
Tea, like wine, has qualities that depend on its geographical location. So just as a red wine from Chile will taste differently from a red wine from France, orthodox teas from India will be very different from orthodox teas from Ceylon or Kenya. Wines in France, too, will have regional differences with a Cotes du Rhone having a taste and bouquet unlike that of a Burgundy or Loire grape.
Then, of course there is the difference between vineyards within the region as it is with tea estates, which depend not only on the geographical location, but also on how the property is run and its quality controls. Similarly, among the teas in India, Terai teas will taste differently from Darjeeling, Assam or Nilgiris.
But once you master it, becoming a connoisseur of tea can be as much fun, as fascinating, if not healthier than being a wine connoisseur. All of this may be bewildering at first. And then there are the different qualities of wine of each vineyard as there are different grades of tea of each estate.
Normally, the so-called ‘estate-fresh' specialty teas that you buy in the supermarket gets there after passing through the hands of a number of middle-men, often sitting in warehouses of dusty ports for months before it reaches your cup. Unlike wines, though, tea does not do well with age.
Try a cup of tea, which has reached you directly within days of being plucked.
Most tea estates limit their expertise to the manufacture of one type of specialty tea. Nuxalbari Tea Estate India is probably one of the very few gardens that is proud to make all three different types of specialty Indian teas with equal finesse.
Upon espying a choice piece of virgin land, the young man would scoop a handful of earth, bury his nose in it, inhale deeply and pronounce, "good, plant," or "rubbish, move on." Family legend has it that he built his fortune led entirely by his nose. In 1899, my great-grandfather, the Nawab of Jalpaiguri, traveled on elephant back across the swampy jungles of northeast India, clearing great swathes of land and planting delicate tea saplings imported from China.
It was first established in 1884 by a British tea planter, and bought by the Nawab in 1910, who then doubled its production by planting areas thought to be unfit by the earlier owner. Nuxalbari, though, was one of the few tea plantations that he did not plant himself entirely. By the end of his life he owned 22 tea plantations from upper Assam to the Dooars.
His genes survive. The Nawab of Jalpaiguri, Musharraf Hussain was one of the first Indians to make tea planting his passion.



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