Immersion: Assam


*** April 2018 ***

Begin the optional pre-tour extension, after a good night's rest (included), with a personally guided Heritage Walk tour of historic Calcutta by a noted historian.  With Masala Chai stands on nearly every corner, we'll treat or tongues to several "secret recipes" and sip our way through the city. India's most important tea trading city, attend tea tasting training in the impressive tasting room of world 's oldest  tea broker J. Thomas. Then, experience the fast paced tea auction to see how tea is bought and sold.

Visit historic monuments, spectacular sacred temples, enjoy a proper afternoon tea and a relaxing river cruise. Explore traditional flower and handicraft markets, enjoy sumptuous banquets and be entertained by the Prakash family, owners of Glenburn tea estate in Darjeeling and Khongea tea estate in Assam. Get a jump start on our studies with a lecture on Indian tea history and culture.

The base tour begins with our flight from Calcutta to Guwahati, and an introduction lecture on Assam tea history and then a visit to a tea broker's warehouse including tasting of some exemplary Assam teas. Our dinner this evening is with members of the Assam Tea Association. In the morning we hit the ground running and drive to an organic tea estate to learn about how eco-friendly teas are made. Much of Assam's teas are made using the CTC method. We'll see the entire process and taste some of the day's freshly made tea.

Sit back and enjoy the ride as we make our way toward the eastern part of the province, stopping along the way for a lunch of special local dishes. Passing through lush tropical forests, keep an eye out for some of the unique birds and wildlife that is native to the area. In the late afternoon we arrive at Khongea Tea Estate, our home for the next few days. Enjoy a manager's welcome reception and get a good nights sleep.

Each of the next three days will include tea plucking training in the morning followed by manufacturing instruction in the factory, learning the different steps. Both CTC and Orthodox methods will be covered in our study. In the afternoons move to the cupping room for work in comparative tastings, focusing on the different plucking seasons, called flushes, tea of different grades as well as specialty teas. Each day also includes a focused lecture or class on other topics such as tea bush varietals and propagation, bush pruning and garden maintenance. We'll also pay a visit to the local village to see the life of the tea pickers and their families.

After our hands-on work on the tea estate, we drive to Jorhat and the famous Tea Research Institute. Following a reception and tour of the small scale, experimental tea factory, we'll have a final program on current tea research as well as a review of Assam tea. Administered by the scientists we'll have our final exam in the hallowed halls of the main house. Celebrate our newly acquired knowledge and skills at a graduation banquet with the staff of the TRI. 

After a morning flight to Delhi, the final day of the base tour will include some sightseeing of the historic capital city and an evening with members of the tea association.

 

On the optional post-tour extension much more excitement is in storeas we drive to Agra and visit the magnificent Taj Mahal. Visit a stone carver's workshop for a peek into the ancient techniques then tour the sprawling Agra Fort. One of the most historic areas of India is Jaipur. Anyone up for a camel ride? We will head to this desert capital and have a reception tea with the Rajah of the ancient Shahpura kingdom. Our accommodations this evening are none other than the rooms of his lavish city home. Dinner is on the rooftop this evening. We'll see some sights of this colorful "Pink City" and take in the bustling night bazaar. Before returning to Delhi the next day, marvel at the architecture of the ancient Amber Fort. That afternoon we'll finish our adventure in style with afternoon tea at the Imperial Hotel followed by a stop a the landmark India Gate and other iconic sights. At our farewell banquet we can share favorite memories and stories of our journey before heading for home the next morning.

The exceptional 7 day base tour program and 3 day optional pre- and post-tour extensions are filled with exciting, educational and authentic  experiences, sure to delight both professionals and devoted tea drinkers, providing memories that will last a lifetime. Due to the unique nature, space is limited, so please make your reservations early.