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 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 first flush to full-bodied, dark roast second flushes to earthy and malty “autumnals”. And our Makaibari First Flush 2018 SFTGFOP 1 CH is one example for a first flush perfectly combining modern first flush processing with the classic features of a Darjeeling tea.
Makaibari First Flush 2018 – The Darjeeling First Flush Season
Actually, we might know the term “First Flush” from India only. However, this doesn’t mean there weren’t any “first flushes” – first spring pickings – anywhere else. Much rather, the first pickings after the winter break enjoy specialty status, wherever tea is grown. The main reason for this is the particular, taste-relevant pattern of active substances in the tea leaf after the “winter break”. For once, picking stops for several months during the cold season 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 soothes the plants and promotes the accumulation of active substances. This applies especially in combination with high humidity and/or fog. 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!
Makaibari First Flush 2018 SFTGFOP 1 CH
Makaibari First Flush 2018 SFTGFOP 1 CH is the premium selection of the first spring picking 2018 at Makaibari Tea Estate in Darjeeling, India. Just like the estate’s “Autumnal”, the Makaibari First Flush stands out with full body and producing a round and soft mouthfeel. At this, bitterness and astringency start unfolding beyond infusions periods of 5 minutes only. Up to that point, the earthy notes of the Makaibari First Flush, pervaded by sunny-floral sweetness, unfold without even a hint of a downside. Just like with other Makaibari teas, it is as if one could virtually taste the estate’s biodynamic, health- and environment-friendly cultivation practice.
Now, after plenty of downpour during a cool winter, when even snow temporarily covered the tea gardens, 2018 is a year of the years for Darjeeling teas. And if Jungpana’s first flush is the season’s spearhead, then Makaibari’s is its ultimate climax. This is because of the estate’s sheer altitude, pushing their pickings to the very end of each season in Darjeeling. Accordingly, expectations have been very high to this year’s Makaibari first flush. And Makaibari would be no longer Makaibari, if it wouldn’t – at least – live up to these!
Makaibari Tea Estate – The Tea Garden
Makaibari Tea Garden, from where our Makaibari First Flush 2018 SFTGFOP 1 CH comes, is located in the northeast Indian highland of Darjeeling. In operation since 1859, it’s one of the oldest tea estates in Darjeeling. Translated, “Makaibari” means as much as “corn field”, a symbol for fertility and life itself.
Makaibari tea estate is a pioneer in modern, innovative agricultural management. The philosophy underlying the venture traditionally unites approaches that are by no means common for tea gardens in Darjeeling. Rajah Banerjee, during his time as the 4th generation manager of Makaibari tea estate, has widely expanded this approach. So, in 1971, he started off introducing a ‘permaculture’-based system. And since 1991, all production at Makaibari is 100% in line with Rudolph Steiner’s principles of sustainable, health and environment-friendly biodynamic agriculture. Accordingly, the estate eventually also achieved Demeter certification under Mr. Banerjee’s reign. Mr. Banerjee himself used to live in the tea garden, operating the same like a genuine family venture. From his residence, he used to supervise the high quality standards, for which Makaibari has earned a name and reputation.
However, spring 2018 has seen Mr. Banerjee announcing his retirement from tea business for the summer of this year. At the same occasion, in a both unprecedented and exemplary move, Mr. Banerjee transferred a significant part of his stake in Makaibari tea estate to the garden’s workers. Just another representation of Mr. Banerjee’s human greatness and social attitude. From this perspective, Makaibari’s First Flush 2018 is Mr. Banerjee’s last wonderful tea gift to the world – or the crowning of his life’s work with tea. After that, we’ll be left to see what will become of Makaibari and its teas under a new management…
Makaibari Tea Estate – Social & Environment
Among the tea garden’s merits is the social and economic integration of the 7 ethnically diverse Makaibari villages surrounding the estate. Rudolph Steiner’s biodynamic method has yielded rich and fertile soils, providing the grounds for a healthy community thriving on it. At this, goal of the combination of biodynamic practices and permaculture is the harmonical symbiotic coexistence of soils, microorganisms, plants and man.
In this backdrop, Makaibari employs a system of integrated forestry management. As a result, 70% of the total acrage of Makaibari Tea Estate is forested. The permaculture practice makes the tea bushes part of of a mulitlayered subtropical habitat of the most diverse trees and plants. In addition, a biotope has been created, where a broad variety of animal species has found a place to dwell. Among these are panthers, tigers, birds, butterflies, snakesa and spiders, just to name a few. Benefactors of Makaibari’s departure from conventional monoculture are both the product and the environment. And thereby ultimately us.
As a standard, poor 200ml water of 90°C – 100° temperature over 4g of Makaibari First Flush 2018 SFTGFOP1 CH and let infuse for 3-5 minutes. After that, a nearly as delicious second infusion emerges after another 5 minutes infusion of the leave material.