Tea shapes us

20 October 2023
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Yesterday, I had a long chat with Jeewan Prakash Gurung, one of Darjeeling’s oldest planters. He has been in the tea business for a record 48 years! He welcomed me to his plantation in Seeyok and together we tasted teas and talked until it grew dark. I was impressed and moved by his words: “Tea is not a product, it’s a culture!” His pride shone through when he talked about himself and his fellow tea growers: “I’m proud of Darjeeling teas, they’ve made us what we are today.” On the winding road back to Mirik, as I looked out of the wide open window of the Jeep at the mountains in the misty night sky, I thought about his words and realised something important. For some people, it is enough to make tea and to shape the tea leaves, while for others it is the tea itself that has shaped them and made them who they are. This reminded me of Nicolas Bouvier’s quote: “You think you are making a trip, but soon it is making you.

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