I have just returned from a recent visit to Margarita in Assam during early April. Margarita is situated in the very far North Eastern corner of Assam in India. I have to say this is a really beautiful part of the world and while a little out of the way, it's beauty is breathtaking.
I was just sixty kilometres from the Myanmar (Burma) boarder and approximately eighty kilometres from the China boarder so quite an isolated spot to say the least, yet an interesting place to visit. The reason for my visit was to pay some of McLeod Russel's Tea Estates in the area a visit. For those who don't know, McLeod Russel are the largest private tea producers in the world today. They own tea estates not only in India but also Vietnam, Uganda and Rwanda.
I was fortunate to have been staying at Namdang Tea Estate a beautiful and well maintained property managed by Mr Sandeep Nagalini. Namdang makes some excellent teas and they really were making some great quality teas, so early into the season. Surely a good sign for things to come, especially with second flush just around the corner.
Coming from Ireland and being a lover of Indian food, the spicier the better (which many Indian's find quite extraordinary) tends to arouse interest. This was certainly the case for Sandeep's wife Shalini. Shalini decided to interduce me to her cooking skills, and boy was I lucky. I asked her to treat me like one of the family and boy, she did. I experienced some of the finest Indian home cooking I have tried in my thirty years visiting India. I have never tasted home cooking of such a high standard and quality before. Shalini certainly has a future as a chef should Sandeep ever consider retiring from tea.
Having written briefly about Namdang Tea Estate. It is fair to say that it's sister tea estate next door, namely Margherita, and managed by Rajesh Stephen, is also a fine establishment. Similar to Namdang, it was producing some beautiful early season teas and another garden to watch this summer. It is fair to say that teas from this area in Assam should produce a very good second flush, and with weather permitting some great quality teas through June, July and August.
In fact the teas from these two estates were so good in the early second flush I sold a number of containers to some of my customers who had a requirement for fresh early Assam teas in their blends. These teas are now on water and should be arriving into Ireland in the next few weeks.