World''s most expensive tea makers in Makaibari swear by "holistic" approach. Makaibari tea estates, one of India''s oldest tea gardens selling world''s most expensive tea gears up for another season to provide premium tea across the globe.
The plantation nestled in Makaibari in the Darjeeling hills in West Bengal boasts of being one of the pioneers in organic farming. The garden, a home to hundreds of tea workers, sprawls at over 550 acres of land, producing exotic tea since 1859.
India is known as an exporter of organic tea apart from organic spices and fruits, which has gained ground since the green revolution began with major countries --like Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Netherlands and, the United States--apart from domestic consumption.
China, Sri Lanka and Kenya are the other major exporters in the global organic tea market.
The heir to the estate Swaraj Kumar Banerjee, however, prefers to call the farming a sustainable agriculture.
"When you fern holistically you have to sustain it. So the term organic is a little loose term and I would like to call it sustainable agriculture to maintain and fertilize the fields we buy in the biodynamic compost from the people. They deliver about 1300 tonnes per year. Then we have a range of botanical preparations and we have a perma cultural practice here as opposed to monoculture. We have all the pests, we have all the diseases but since they have their habitat and their predators sit in an absolutealance," he said.
Makaibari has been producing an almost magical tea, a second flush, muscatel-style Silver Tip, which carries the best aroma of passing spring.
Produced in small quantities for very selective populace from poly-clonal varieties, it is found nowhere else in the world. The tealeaves are taken off the plants by the best women-pluckers on full moon nights.
In 2003, "Silver Tips", which was one of the most special varieties of the teas fetched Rs.18,000 (about 400 dollars) for one kilogram. It was the highest bid in the world for any variety of tea at that time.
In 1996, Makaibari''s Silver Tips was awarded the world record price of 400 dollars by the American Tea Masters Association. Presently, Silver Tips is the costliest tea in the world.
But Makaibari is continuously experimenting with bettering its own magic. It is produced only on request from the right buyers. It is the ultimate biodynamic tea from the garden, which was the first in the world to be awarded the biodynamic tea certificate by Demeter.
Tea from the gardens in Darjeeling in West Bengal is famous world over for their finest blends. The State has 183 established tea gardens belonging to British era, besides over 500 tea gardens planted in recent years. The tea industry forms the backbone of the State''s economy. (ANI)