Old is best at Indian tea plantation

Written by admin on 30/07/2019 Categories: 佛山桑拿网

A dozen young women chatter as they furiously shear bright leaves from tea plants that stretch like a green carpet across the plantation.


Their colourful saris and gold necklaces glisten in the sun as they fill huge brown sacks to be taken back to the on-site factory and weighed.

One lady even needs two burly men to help her lift the bag onto the scale, and I cannot help but gasp when the manager tells me that the sack weighs a whopping 80kg.

“They’re really productive workers,” explains manager Bobby KJ. “The minimum they have to pick a day is 25kg and they get a bonus for every 10kg after.

“The average is 150kg per person per day. But some can pick up to 300.”

In a time of technological advances, it’s hard to believe that such manual work goes into making a simple cup of tea.

But during a visit to the Glenlorna Tea Estate, in the heart of Coorg in southern India, I quickly discover that the old ways are definitely the best.

More than 300 families live and work in the fields and know little of the hustle and bustle of life outside the plantation.

Their washing lines waft in the breeze at the front of their wooden houses, which are a short walk away from an on-site medical centre built for the workers.

The employees work eight hours a day picking leaves in a 365 day operation in the only tea plantation in Coorg.

The fresh aroma of tea is overwhelming as I walk from room to room of the factory, where the tea leaves are dried, grounded and filtered ready for auction.

Tea plantations are a rare operation in Coorg, as production is mainly confined to the north of India because the weather conditions are better. But the importance of tea to Indian culture is evident no matter what part of the country you are in.

Visiting the nearby Cottabetta Bungalow, the first thing I am offered as I am greeted by the staff is a steaming pot of tea.

I have a new sense of appreciation for my brew after seeing the work that goes into my favourite beverage.

“Tea is a part of Indian life,” says Gautam Prakash, head of Plantation Trails at Tata Coffee Limited. “It’s the beverage of choice. It’s part of every meal. You start the day in the morning with a nice cup of tea and it will be served throughout the day.”

Sipping my second cup on the veranda of the colonial-style bungalow, I feel like I’ve stepped back in time to 19th century India.

Once occupied by British planters, the bungalow is hidden away among 400 hectares of coffee plantations owned by Tata.

Only a roaring bonfire spoils the absolute silence of the garden, which is rich in vegetation and has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

During a guided jeep tour of the plantations, I watch birds flutter between the 200-year-old trees that extend upwards from the dark coffee bushes that stretch for 485 hectares.

But it is a slight disappointment to learn from our guide that the luscious grounds cannot be explored on foot. He informs me that it’s for my own safety – so I don’t encounter any of the wild elephants that come to feast on the jackfruit trees.

The region of Coorg is not the first choice for international tourists – particularly as it involves a treacherous seven-hour drive along heavily pot-holed roads from Bangalore airport.

But as I soak in the infinity pool at the Vivanta by Taj Hotel, I feel the knots in my muscles melt away while overlooking the rolling hills of the rainforest.

The resort has been open for less than a year and boasts 62 impressive cottages, which are dotted among the trees.

A huge amount of love and attention was given to the resort so that it complements the natural surroundings and gives guests a feeling of tranquillity and peace.

I find a variety of tea flavours to satisfy my cravings during Indian afternoon high tea at the 125-year-old Taj West End Hotel in Bangalore.

I opt for the strong Assam variety as I tuck into a soft kheema samosa and gunpowder idli.

The Indian version of high tea has only been on offer for a month at the hotel but is already proving popular with both international and domestic tourists.

“Indian high tea doesn’t exist traditionally,” explains assistant restaurant manager Gayatri Vijay Kale. “But we found that it’s popular with locals who want the high tea experience but with Indian street food. They like it because the food has more flavour than the English version.

“It’s popular with foreigners who want to experience a taste of India too.”

British rule in India may have ended in 1947 but its influences in the country have had a lasting impression – particularly with the introduction of tea as a popular choice of drink.

* Cherry Wilson was a guest of Cox & Kings

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