Tea estate “Jungpana” in Darjeeling, northeast India – click picture to enlarge
Jungpana Tea Estate
Jungpana is a classic Indian tea estate, located about 10-12 km south of Kurseong town in the pictoresque highland of Darjeeling. The tea garden’s extremely rugged terrain covers altitudes between 1000 and 2000 meters above sea level. Jungpana is known as Darjeeling’s hardest to access tea estate. Even today, the only access way to the estate is quite an adventurous suspension bridge, made of wood and ropes. Beyond that, there’s more then 600 stairs to conquer. The estate has a reputation for its teas’ constant high quality across years and seasons. Thus, Jungpana’s first spring picking is one of Darjeeling’s most anticipated first flushes every year. In fact, for Darjeeling tea lovers, it is one of the most anticipated events in the world of tea at all.
The Jungpana Legend
According to legend, a British hunter once roamed this part of the Himalayan foothills with his gurkha, Jung Bahadur. When the two suddenly faced a leopard attack. the faithful gurkha stood up for his master. When the latter finally had disposed of the beast, Jung Bahadur had already suffered some severe injuries. Felling thirsty, he asked his master for water, “pana”. His master then carried him to a nearby stream and let him drink. Little later, Jung Bahadur succumbed to his injuries and died in his master’s arms. Since then, the area goes by the name of “Jungpana”, the place, where Jung Bahadur had his last sip of water. So far the legend…
The Jungpana History
History documents that Jungpana tea garden first came into being through the plantings of British Sir Henry Montgomery Lennox. Since that time, the estate has changed ownership several times until 1956, when the Kejriwal family took over. Still in charge of the tea garden today, it was the who made Jungpana accessible for motor vehicles for the first time. To do this, they constructed a 4 km long road through neighboring Goomtee Tea Estate, ending at the said suspension bridge. However, large parts of that road – and the bridge itself – had to be completely rebuilt after exposure to a massive landslide in 1993.
Organic Cultivation and Modern Processing Facilities
It was also the Kejriwals, who introduced organic farming techniques soon after taking over the tea garden. In addition, Jungpana’s processing facilities underwent comprehensive modernization during the past decades. What’s more, the estate’s tea portfolio has developed with the trends of time. Today, Jungpana enjoys worldwide fame for its spring-fresh first flushes, full-bodied second flushes and malty-mild “autumnals” (autumn pickings).
However, outside the processing facilities, Jungpana displays a rather traditional fashion. So, picking is done manually, as always has been, which in this tea garden’s difficult terrain is not exactly an easy task. Also, the transport of freshly picked tea leaves and ready processed tea represents quite a challenge here.
Tea from India at Siam Tea Shop
The sustainable trend to more quality with tea on the western market increasingly bears sweet fruit in India, too. Year after year, the mayor tea estates in Darjeeling and Assam compete for the market’s recognition for each season’s best “First Flush“, “Second Flush” or “Autumnal”. However, not only quality comes from India at new levels today, but also completely new diversity of India’s tea portfolio. Black tea, for example, the classic of Indian teas, suddenly comes around in the most diverse appearances. The spectrum reaches from the modern, flowery, spring-hearted first flush to full-bodied, dark roasted second flushes to earthy and malty “autumnals”. One example for a modern, nearly “green” first flush, as it is typical for my estates today, is our Jungpana First Flush 2017 – SFTGFOP 1 CL SPL.
Jungpana First Flush 2017 – SFTGFOP 1 CL SPL
The Indian First Flush Season
Even though we might know the term “First Flush” only from India, this doesn’t mean there weren’t any “first flushes” – first spring pickings – anywhere else. Much rather, the first pickings after the winter break enjoys specialty status, wherever tea is grown. Themain reason for this is the particular, taste-relevant pattern of active substances in the tea leaf after the “winter break”. In fact, picking is put on hold during the cold season for several months in all major tea cultivation countries. But it is not only the picking break that brings the tea plants relief. What adds, is that the cool climate – especially in combination with hig humidity and/or fog – soothes the plants and promotes the accumulation of active substances. In spring then, with rising temperatures and days getting longer, the plant drives these active substances into the young leaves and buds. And this is something… you can taste!
Jungpana First Flush 2017 – SFTGFOP 1 CL SPL
The modern type of first flush processing focuses on emphasizing these teas’ specific spring character. Accordingly, the taste of the Jungpana First Flush 2017 pleases with dominant flowery and fruity notes. In addition, the golden yellow cup of our personal favorite among this year’s spring pickings convinces with a pronounced full body and perfect balancing of individual flavor components.
Besides, what does SFTGFOP 1 CL SPL actually mean? SFTGFOP 1 CL SPL is a quality grade labeling. It comprises elements of both the classic Indian quality grading and elements of a more recent grading system. The first part, SFTGFOP 1, refers to the classic grading system and translates to “Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, Grade 1”. What this means in detail, explains my blog article
In short, in means a particularly high leaf quality (leaf grade) and just as high picking standard with high buds ratio (“tippy”) for our Jungpana First Flush. The second part, CL SPL, means as much as “Clonal Special”. At this, the term clonal indicates that the tea plants were raised from cut-offs of the motherbush. “Special”, on the other hand, once again points to good general leaf grade and picking standard.
First, poor 200-250 ml boling hot water (90°C-100°C) over 4g Jungpana First Flush 2017 – SFTGFOP 1 CL SPL in a teapot. Let infuse for 3-5 minutes for a mild and round, full-bodied infusion. A second infusion is always an option and lives up to more than just keeping this tea’s delicious aftertaste alive!