Besides usual walks around tea gardens, step into the shoes of a tea plucker or learn the process of making a tea leaf, brew-worthy. At the Temi Tea Estate in south Sikkim, blend the experience of being in an organic tea manor with culturally rich homestays and adventure sports.
We wake up to the crow of a rooster and to the views of tea gardens with peaks of Mount Khangchendzonga in the backdrop, as morning mist surrounds the landscape. The jurisdiction of Temi in south Sikkim stands its ground as the only tea-growing region in the state. Clean, green and ‘all organic’ since 2016, the area is mostly a maze of steep valleys with subtropical woodlands.
Entry to Temi Tea’s plantation gardens is just a 10-minute ride from the accommodation area at the tea estate. On our way, one side of the road is lined with rhododendrons where women in traditional long skirts walk towards tea gardens with baskets on their backs. On the other side are meticulous steep terraces planted with tea leaves.
As we arrive amidst the plantations, the ladies smile at us while we admire the view as they pluck tea leaves and also let us try our hands at it. The best part is that you can relish the nectar right where it is harvested, that too, made out of the leaves you plucked yourself – tea pluckers help you take the plucked leaves to the processing factory where leaves are made brew-worthy.
“Before Sikkim switched to being organic, using chemical fertilisers was a conventional farming practice. When we first replaced chemicals with bio fertilisers and compost, the quantity of produce started declining and picked up really slowly. After five years, we started seeing the results – we now produce much more with better quality tea leaves. Moreover, we are now able to retain the medicinal value of our tea as it is fully organic. It has been proven in the laboratory that our tea has healing properties and can help in curing cancer,” Mohan Chamling, chairman of Sikkim Tea Board tells us.
If you wish to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the tea estate, head to a nearby tree house in the area. We chose to cover the uphill distance by car but you can also trek or ride a bike till there. Besides the many trekking routes, adventure enthusiasts can also enjoy activities like zip lining, paragliding and mountain biking at the tea estate.
Meet the locals
Leaving the plantations, we head towards the adjacent Jaubari Village, because if the soil of the land is rich, so is the culture.
At the entrance, unfenced houses built from earth and wood are decorated with colourful flowers. The people of the village lead simple lives – they prefer being around nature and have adopted organic ways of living.
To familiarise with their lifestyle, you can opt for home visits and stays, participate in farm activities with the locals, and understand their cuisine. Do not miss the farmers’ markets around every village where farmers sell their organic produce directly to the consumers. Besides vegetables and fruits, they also sell wines made out of local flowers, especially Rhododendrons.
To know more, read the full article in the September-October issue of India & You Magazine.