List of Tea Gardens in North Bengal for a Refreshing Trip
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Waking up to a cacophony of horns and noises loud enough to assault our senses is not a pleasant experience.
The urban clamour that constantly surrounds us makes us tired and weary, and this is exactly what prompted us at Flying Squirrel Holidays to curate a list of tea gardens in North Bengal that offer unforgettable experiences and the peace and quiet we all crave for.
WHY TEA TOURISM?
To answer what has been making tea tours so popular with travellers across the globe, picture this- you begin your day by gazing at the bright green shrubs planted neatly on a sloping hill, sipping a cup of freshly brewed tea, the constant ringing noises you sought to take a break from being replaced by the merry chirps of birds, and the strong fragrance of tea permeating through the air- sounds peaceful and pleasant, does it not?
This is truly the essence of tea tourism, and India is one of the best places in the world to experience it.
INDIA- THE QUINTESSENTIAL DESTINATION FOR TEA TOURISM
Why is India the best place to experience tea tourism, you ask?
Well, for starters, India is among the largest producers, exporters and consumers of the beverage.
The gardens in the country are bestowed with high quality, flavourful and aromatic tea leaves, and the opportunity to taste a cup and witness the production process is a huge draw for tea lovers. Tea gardens in India are majorly in the offbeat locations of North Bengal.
- TEA AND HISTORY: In addition to the tea itself, tea tourism in India is also interesting for lovers of history. Formally introduced to the country by the British during the colonial era, the tea industry in India was set up to combat the monopoly that China exercised over the production of the beverage.Most of the estates today, consequently, have colonial mansions that have stood on for centuries. The chance to stay in these stately, long-standing and historically important bungalows is another draw for tourists. Moreover, the colonial history ensures that language is not a barrier to tourists in India, and it is easy to find English speakers everywhere.
- TEA AND SCENERY: The feature of tea tourism in India, however, that seals the deal, is the uninterrupted and absolutely stunning views of the gardens, valleys and surrounding mountains.This is particularly true for the estates in North Bengal, as the gardens in this part of the country are situated at a higher altitude, right at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. The surrounding areas are also known to be rich in wildlife, and the range of rare avian fauna the estates are blessed with attracts many bird watchers.
Before we discuss the places that made it to our list of North Bengal tea gardens, let us get a brief idea about the history, the growth and the current situation of the industry in the state.
THE TEA INDUSTRY IN BENGAL
The state of West Bengal is one of the hotspots of tea cultivation in India, second only to Assam in terms of the volume produced.
The industry was set up in the state more than a century and a half ago, and today, the tea produced in the gardens of Bengal are famous across the globe. The beginnings of tea cultivation can be traced back to 1856, with the establishment of the first tea industry in West Bengal in Alubari by the Kurseong and Darjeeling Tea Company.
Within 20 years, the industry had already started flourishing, taking the shape of the North Bengal tea industry as we know it today.
The fertile North Bengal tea growing area can be divided into three broad units- the Terai region, the Darjeeling Hills and the Dooars. The Terai region is comprised of Siliguri and North Dinajpur, the Darjeeling unit of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong, and the Dooars of Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar.
According to the description provided by the Tea Board of India, the tea from the Dooars-Terai region is a “bright, smooth and full-bodied liquor that is a wee bit lighter than Assam Tea.” Darjeeling Tea, on the other hand, needs no introduction.
Known as the ‘Champagne of Teas’, the aromatic, spicy black tea is renowned all over the globe. It is generally said that the tea from North Bengal is best consumed without sugar or milk, as opposed to the Assam variety which is commonly used in making the milk-based chai.
TEA TOURISM IN BENGAL: Tea holiday in Bengal in India is budding, and the colonial estates of North Bengal have been instrumental in placing the country on the map for ‘teatrotters’ all over the world.
The estates have converted their age-old bungalows into homestays that provide a mix of colonial luxury with modern amenities. Moreover, as the stays are surrounded by lush gardens and rolling hills, they are an ideal nature retreat.
They offer a charmingly rustic life that allows one to reconnect with the environment. Most of the estates serve food made with self-grown, organic produce that is both delicious and nutritious.
There are a lot of things guests can enjoy while on an estate retreat. There are tea garden walks and factory visits to understand the art of making tea. Cultural programs are held routinely to enable guests to learn about the local customs and ways of life.
Moreover, picnics, birdwatching, fishing, excursions and wildlife safaris to nearby national parks are also commonly organised.
Thus, we see that tea tourism is not only for passionate lovers of the beverage. Even if tea is not one’s cup of tea, they can still have a rewarding and unforgettable vacation in an estate, and get that break they desperately crave.
Let us now move on to the tea gardens in North Bengal that offer premier tea tourism.
LIST OF TEA GARDENS IN NORTH BENGAL
TEA GARDENS IN DARJEELING
Darjeeling, the Queen of Hills, and the home to the ‘Champagne of Teas’ is one of the best places to enjoy tea tourism. Tourists have Darjeeling on their lists not only for its fine tea, but also for its surrounding historical and religious attractions and overwhelming natural beauty.
The town has many plantations, and to get an idea of just how densely they are situated, all one needs to do is open a map of Darjeeling tea estates. From small tea gardens to sprawling, iconic ones, the plantations are the soul of Darjeeling.
However, not all of these gardens host guests. We have compiled a list of premier tea estates in Darjeeling for stay to help you choose one to your liking.
TEA GARDENS IN DARJEELING OFFERING ACCOMMODATION
Goomtee Tea Garden Retreat
Goomtee Tea Estate and Retreat is located on the route leading from Darjeeling to Siliguri, is one of the most enchanting tea retreats in the country. Sitting in the middle of the Goomtee Tea Estate, which produces incredibly aromatic leaves that are loved all over the world, the retreat is surrounded by forests, lush tea bushes, streams and even waterfalls.
The accommodation in Goomtee is simple yet elegant and luxurious. The retreat hosts many activities for its guests, including tea walks, guided tea tasting sessions, hiking and touring the neighbouring attractions.
The Arya Tea Resort
Sitting amidst the Arya Tea Gardens, is another tasteful accommodation in of the most resplendent tea estates in India. The garden is said to have been established by Buddhist monks, and today, it is famed globally for its fine produce.
Its Jewel range, in particular, is cultivated primarily for the purpose of export. The resort offers impressive views of the Kanchenjunga, the neighbouring estates of Happy Valley and Singtom Tea and a stately night view of Darjeeling.
The Glenburn Tea Estate
Glenburn Tea Estate is known across the country for offering top-notch, luxurious tea estate retreats. The accommodation is exclusive, and it is advisable to get rooms booked well in advance to ensure availability.
Glenburn is situated at a convenient location, and Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Gangtok are all easily accessible from its premises. Apart from activities related to tea, guests at Glenburn can enjoy picnics, rafting, camping, birdwatching and hiking.
One of the finest teas in the world, and India’s most expensive, is the Silver Tips Imperial Tea from the Makaibari Tea Estate, which is among the largest tea gardens in West Bengal.
There is something very mysterious in how the leaves are plucked only on certain full moon nights. The packaging is done immediately after in order to retain the essence of the tea, and all this effort does not go to waste- it goes to Buckingham Palace instead.
Makaibari tea estate tours are popular among visitors, and they can choose to stay either at the opulent Taj Chia Kutir Resort or in the homestays provided by the plantation workers.
TEA GARDENS IN SILIGURI
The city of Siliguri, which acts as the Gateway to North East India and is bordered by China, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, is a great place to enjoy tea garden visits in an urban setting. The Siliguri Tea Auction Centre is an important part of the industry in North Bengal, and the tea gardens of the city produce fine quality tea.
The Mayfair Tea Resort
Mayfair Tea Resort allows visitors to enjoy the gardens in the lap of luxury. The resort is made in a colonial style, with vintage exquisite furnishings and tasteful, vintage decor. Their aim is to ‘take tea tourism in India to the highest global standards’, and they strive to attain this goal.
The Planters’ Club in the resort allows guests to taste fine tea from all over the world.
TEA GARDENS IN JALPAIGURI
Jalpaiguri, in the Dooars region of North Bengal, has some of the best tea gardens in the state. The tea produced in Dooars tea factories are darker and richer than the Darjeeling variety, and the landscape of the district is mesmerising.
Rajpur Tea Gardens in Jalpaiguri is a vast, seemingly endless stretch of plantation which is known for its fragrant tea and breathtaking views of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga.
The Phaskowa Tea Estate is another splendid estate in Bengal, and it offers luxurious accommodation in the tea planter’s bungalow.
The food served in Phaskowa is varied and everything is made with self-grown vegetables. It is located on the periphery of the Buxa Tiger Reserve, and guests often enjoy excursions to the sanctuary.
TEA GARDENS IN ALIPURDUAR
The Alipurduar district in North Bengal is a large area on the eastern side of the Dooars. The district has thick forest cover, and its predominantly rural population depends on tea cultivation for its sustenance.
Bandapani Tea Garden and Madhu Tea Garden are the foremost tea gardens in Alipurduar.
Apart from tea tourism, Alipurduar is also famed for its mystical natural beauty and rich wildlife. The district has ‘Bagh Ban’, or the forest of tigers, where efforts are made to preserve the population of the giant cat.
Visitors in Alipurduar get a chance to experience rural life at its finest, and this is why the district is popular with tourists
Tea Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors globally, and India is at the forefront of this development. The verdant tea gardens that produce the beverage of choice for millions across the world are now welcoming guests and connoisseurs to have a look and gain an insight as to how their tea makes its way into their cups.
Moreover, the natural setting of the gardens is a sight for sore eyes and offers respite from the concrete and gravel that surrounds life in urban areas.