One of the most interesting tea gardens in the world and especially within the Darjeeling area of northern India is the Castleton Tea Estate, located in the Kurseong South Valley. It is a true story of revival, of a tea garden gone bad and brought back to life. A story of dedication and hard work by people dedicated to this tea. A story of success. Today the garden is a key producer, all orthodox style teas and considered by many to be among the finest.
We’re proud to offer their First Flush 2014 Moonlight tea, a very limited production, while supplies last.
Bringing Castleton Garden back to life:
In 1999, the new manager of the Castleton Tea Garden was seeing critically low yields from the tea fields, but didn’t want to get rid of the valuable China Jat bushes, some 100 years old, growing there that were responsible for the wonderful Muscatel character of their teas. They had done some uprooting and replacing with clonal plants but knew that the flavor would not be the same. The older bushes, though, were damaged by moss stem borers and had been poorly pruned over the years. What to do? A little digging into the root of the problem (literally) yielded an important discovery and one that could save the bushes: the original roots of these bushes were quite alive but hampered by tumors on the trunk below the soil level. By pulling back the soil and cutting away affected parts, they allowed the roots to begin anew with fresh shoots that still had that muscatel character in the leaves. This method had the further benefit of being far less expensive to do. This solution serves as a shining example to other Darjeeling tea gardens faced with the same dilemma.
Tea Master Mr. DB Gurung is responsible for most of Castleton Tea Garden’s fine tea creations such as Castleton Moonlight and Muscatel. The photo here by our friend Benoy Thapa, who lives and works in the Darjeeling area, shows Mr. Gurung tasting his own creations and assessing quality and characteristics.
Tour Castleton Garden:
Tea tourism is becoming popular, and this tea garden is listed as one of the must sees, with gorgeous scenery and their own spotlessly clean factory with gleaming white tea tables for spreading out the leaves to wither. The garden manager went through some strenuous efforts (as detailed above) about 14 years ago to keep the garden productive and the tea from true to the Darjeeling heritage and reputation.