Darjeelings Second Flush and the Future of Darjeeling Tea in Jeopardy (WorldofTea.org)

At The Tea Smith, we try to source the best teas available in the market. But we do not do that in a vacuum. We look further into the sources and the gardens to the best we are able so we purchase our teas from gardens that employee best practices treat their workers fairly and work for the common good of the workers as well as the long term prospect of the tea industry there.Darjeelings Tea

We will keep you abreast of developments there, both as it impacts our teas and the future of tea in Darjeeling. Here’s what’s happening:

Ghorkas, Nepali-speaking ethnic group, are the majority of the population in the Darjeeling Hills and have once again instituted a general strike in their quest for a separate Indian State they would call Gorkhaland. The strike is their way to get the government to hear their pleas. Ghorkas provide the bulk of the workforce when it comes to tea growing, plucking, and processing which has caused complete shutdown of the Darjeeling tea industry right at the peak of the second flush harvest.

One of the Gorkhas motivating factors is that the Ghorkas have felt and continue to feel like second class citizens. A Ghorkas working environment is often poor and wages low. Ghorkas often have no say in how the estates are run and not a single Ghorka owns a Darjeeling Estate even though their people are instrumental in the production and success of the Darjeeling tea industry. Ghorkas feel that the government does not provide care for the region and the area lacks basic infrastructure and resources.

“Darjeeling’s tea industry has suffered a direct loss of more than $18 million already due to the current unrest” Kaushik Basu, Secretary General of Darjeeling Tea Association. If the strike continues Basu estimates that the revenue loss could reach $55 million.

The Darjeeling Hills have been a point of political control and conflict since the 1780’s and the Ghorkas have sought independence many times throughout history. Once the British began their expansion through India many conflicts and wars over this area persisted. One of the most significant conflicts was in 1986 when the protests for an independent state turned extremely violent and over 1200 lost their lives. The unrest was finally resolved by the establishment of a special Ghorka council in the region. However, the council had very little ruling power and thus several protests and conflicts have erupted since.

How will this impact the Darjeeling tea industry? Short term certainly all Darjeeling estates will lose out on revenue and the Darjeeling summer teas will lose market share. Brands will avoid introducing Darjeelings because of the lack of certainty of their availability and thus will move to other regions for their needs. Long term outlook at this time is bleak. Due to the limited land available to grow Darjeeling and then the lack of workforce to produce the tea the business proposition is not good. The political unrest in the area needs to stabilize and show signs of continued harmony before the Darjeeling Estates appear to be a good business idea.

Teas from the Darjeeling region of India have long been a favorite of customers and staff at The Tea Smith. Each season, we fly in samples to evaluate for purchase. When we cup them, our staff lines up to be included in the process.

However, as the article clearly shows, the traditional infrastructure in the area no longer works. The gardens are in beautiful, though remote, areas. The work is hard and as young people have an opportunity for growth and education, they choose not to stay involved. The unresolved conflict between racial and social groups continues to challenge the general commerce, especially the production and sale of tea, and the basic rights of those involved.

The Tea Smith’s Cooking With Tea Contest Winners


Cucumber Lime Sorbet with Moroccan Mint Tea Simple Syrup


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Submitted by Tricia Chaves

• 1 Tbsp The Tea Smith Moroccan Mint Organic Green Tea

• 3/4 c granulated sugar

• 3/4 c water

• 2 c cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

• 1 lime juiced, seeds removed

• 2 T clear liquor (optional, for texture)

Make a simple syrup by combining tea, water and sugar in a saucepan on the stove top over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves without allowing the liquid to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then strain into the blender. Peel, seed and coarsely chop cucumber. Add to a blender with liquor and lime juice, then blend on high until smooth. Distribute evenly into two metal loaf pans and put into the freezer, stirring with a spatula every hour until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. Typically, four hours. Serve within 24 hours or transfer into a covered container up to three months. Garnish as desired with grated lime peel, cucumber slice or mint leaf. This versatile sorbet makes a refreshing dessert, intermezzo – as a palate cleanser between courses, or even as a base for a frozen cocktail.


Spicy Peach and Pecan Sweet Tea Rice


Spicy Peach Pecan Tea Rice

Submitted by Mary Marlowe Leverette

• 2 cups prepared Tea Smith Peach Paradise Black Tea

• 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

• 1 cup uncooked long grain rice

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 2 tablespoons butter

• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

• 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

• 1 large peeled and diced fresh peach

• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Prepare tea as directed and place in a 3-qt. saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir in rice and salt. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes or until tea is absorbed and rice is tender.

While rice is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet. Add pecans and saute 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Add minced jalapeno and saute for one minute. Stir in rice, diced peaches and chives. Toss to mix well and serve. Serves 4.


Spicy Orange Herbal Tilapia


Spicy Tea Coated Tilapia
Submitted by Mary Marlowe Leverette

 • 2 tablespoons Tea Smith’s Ginger & Sweet Orange Herbal Tea

• 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder

• 2 teaspoons dried thyme

• 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

• 4 5-ounce tilapia fillets

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 fresh lemon

• Chopped chives for garnish

Grind tea to a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or use an electric spice grinder. Place ground tea, 5-spice, thyme and salt in a shallow bowl. Mix well.

Pat fish dry with paper towel and gently coat each side with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Coat each tilapia fillet with about 1 teaspoon of tea mixture and let rest for 10 minutes.

Warm remaining oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Place fillets in pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until fish is opaque throughout. Place on serving dishes and squeeze fresh lemon juice on each fillet and garnish with chives. Serves 4.


Breakfast Peach Tea Smoothie

Submitted by Mary Marlowe Leverette

• 1 16 oz. package frozen peaches

• 4 cups brewed Tea Smith Peach Paradise Black Tea, chilled

Place ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately. Serves 4.


Finest Lady Grey Ice Box Cookies


Lady Grey Cookies

Submitted by Mary Marlowe Leverette

 • 2 tablespoons Tea Smith’s Finest Lady Grey Black Tea

• 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

• 8 ounces butter, softened

• 2 eggs

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• 3 cups all purpose flour

• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

• 3/4 teaspoon salt

• 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Grind tea to a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or use an electric spice grinder. Divide in half. Place half of the tea powder into a large measuring cup. Add brown sugar and mix together well. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the brown sugar/tea mixture and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Divide dough into three equal parts. Shape each into a roll about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Cookie dough can be wrapped in aluminum foil and frozen at this point for up to 3 months.)

After dough is chilled, heat oven to 425 degrees F. Place granulated sugar and the remaining tea powder on a large piece of parchment paper or wax paper. Roll each cookie log in granulated sugar and tea and cut dough into 1/4 –inch slices. Place slices one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack immediately. Makes 7 dozen cookies.


Chai Caramel Almond Tartlet


Chai Caramel Almond Tartlet 1

Submitted by Hidemi Walsh

 Ingredients:

For Crust:

• 1/2 cup Corn flour

• 3/4 cup All-purpose flour

• 1 teaspoon Granulated sugar

• 4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cold and diced

• 1/3 cup Water

• 1 Large egg

For filling:

• 2/3 cup Whole almonds, roasted

• 4 tablespoons Dried cranberries

• 2 tablespoons Chai tea leaves

• 1 cup Unsweetened almond milk

• 1/2 cup Granulated sugar

• 2 tablespoons Unsalted butter

• 2 tablespoons Honey

• 1/8 teaspoon Salt

Directions:

  1. Butter and flour 4 tartlet pans (4-inch in diameter each). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Make crust. In a food processor, pulse egg, cornmeal, flour and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar until combined. Add water and 4 tablespoons of butter, pulse until dough holds together. Divide the dough into four and place the dough in each tartlet pan. Poke holes in bottom of the crust and place the pans on a baking sheet. When the oven is ready, put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Make filling. In a microwave safe cup, put almond milk and warm it up in a microwave (don’t boil). Take the cup out of the microwave and add chai tea leaves. Let stand 6-7 minutes. Then strain the almond milk tea into a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, honey and salt. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently. When the large bubbles start to appear, reduce heat to medium-low and keep cooking stirring frequently until slightly thickened (30-35 minutes). Then stir in almonds and cranberries, and keep cooking stirring frequently for another 4-5 minutes or until thickened.
  4. When the crusts has baked and cooled enough to handle, remove each crust from the tartlet pan. Put the filling into each crust equally and place the pans on the baking sheet. Bake in the oven (350 degrees F) for 12-15 minutes. 4 servings.

Berry Lavender Sorbet

Submitted by Alexie L. Herrmann

Ingredients:

• 2 Tbs. Lavender Spring Loose Leaf Tea

• 2 Tbs. Agave or Honey

• 1 Can (about 14 oz.) of Full Fat Coconut Milk

• ⅔ Cup Mixed Frozen Berries

• 3 Tbs. Frozen Aronia Berries

Method:

  1. Steep tea in 8 oz. boiling water for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. (This can be done the night before or a few hours in advance and put in the fridge)
  2. Shake can of coconut milk well then open and add half of can to bowl. Add the cooled tea to bowl and put rest of coconut milk in fridge.
  3. Whisk or blend tea and coconut milk until well combined and smooth
  4. Pour mixture into ice tray and freeze overnight.
  5. Once frozen pop ice cubes into blender.
  6. Add frozen mixed berries, aronia berries, agave or honey, and the rest of the coconut milk.
  7. Blend on a low medium speed stopping often to scrape sides until all ingredients are well incorporated. Length of time depends on blender power and personal texture preference.
  8. Scrape into shallow dish (I used an 8×8 baking dish) and put into the freezer.
  9. Stir every 20 minutes until scoopable or preferred consistency.
  10. Scoop into personal dishes and garnish with fresh berries when available.

Preparation time: 20 MinutesTotal time:  Varies by blender and freezer quality but about 8 hoursServes: 4

Variations:

  • This also makes a great smoothie

Inspiration:

Being pregnant has increased two things for me. My cravings for sweet frozen foods and my anxiety. This recipe helps alleviate both! This is a bit healthier than ice cream in my opinion (especially with the antioxidants from the local aronia berries) so I can satisfy my craving without much guilt. I try to incorporate lavender into my life as much as possible to ease my anxiety often visiting local lavender farms or drinking lavender tea which does just the trick

Smoky Vegan Chili

Submitted by: Shelly J Schmidt

Ingredients:

• 4 Tsp. Lapsang Souchong Tea Leaves

• ⅓ cup (about 6 mushrooms) Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

• 2 Tbs. Olive Oil (can substitute vegetable oil)

• 1 Large Onion Diced

• 6 Garlic Cloves Minced or Pressed

• 1 Large Carrot Shredded

• 2 Jalapenos Seeded and Diced

• 2 15 oz. Cans of Diced Tomatoes

• 2 15 oz. Cans of Kidney Beans, Drained and Rinsed

• 1 15 oz. Can of Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed

• 2 Cups of Vegetable Stock

• 2 Tbs. Chili Powder

• 2 Tsp. Cumin

• 1 Bay Leaf

• Salt to Taste

Method:

  1. Use a tea bag or loose leaf tea basket to steep 2 Tsp. Lapsang Souchong in 6 oz. boiling water for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Use a spice grinder or blender to grind the mushrooms and rest of dried tea leaves to a fine powder. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot over medium high heat add oil, onion, and pinch of salt. Cook until translucent.
  4. Add carrot and jalapenos. Sauté for 10 minutes
  5. Add minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in dried mushroom tea mixture, chili powder, cumin, and pinch of salt. Cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add diced tomatoes with juices, kidney beans, black beans, vegetable stock, brewed tea, and bay leaf.
  8. Bring to a simmer and stir.
  9. Continue a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  10. Remove bay leaf and serve with your preferred garnishments.

(Suggested garnishes jalapenos, guacamole, cilantro, cheese, fresh Nebraska corn when available, and your favorite chips.) Preparation time: 30 minutes

Total time:  1 ½ -2  hours. Serves: 8

Variations:

  • This could also be cooked on low for a longer time to enhance flavor
  • Works well in the crockpot as well

Inspiration:

  • After my daughter became vegan I had to rethink my chili recipe. She discovered the Lapsang Souchong tea at the Tea Smith and it quickly became one of her favorites. At her suggestion we added this tea along with the dried mushrooms to my basic vegan chili recipe. The mixture adds a deep umami flavor to replace the typical meat flavor of chili. I made this for my vegan daughter who loves spicy food, tea, and campfires.


Smoky Vegan Cornbread

Submitted by: Bud Schmidt

Ingredients:

• 3 Tsp. Lapsang Souchong Tea Leaves

• 1 cup whole wheat flour

• 1 ½ corn meal

• 2 Tsp. baking powder

• ¼ cup fresh cut Nebraska corn (in season) or frozen

• 2 Tbs. maple syrup

• 1 ½ cup tea made with Lapsang Souchong

• 2 Tbs. Olive Oil (can substitute vegetable oil)

Method:

  1. Use a tea bag or loose leaf tea basket to steep 3 Tsp. Lapsang Souchong in 12 oz. boiling water for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Grease loaf pan
  4. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl
  5. Mix all wet ingredients in another bowl
  6. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, stir until moist
  7. Put into loaf pan, cook for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out dry
  8. Remove from oven and serve with your preferred garnishments

Preparation time: 15 minutesTotal time:  45-60 minutesServes: 6 people or me alone

Variations:

  • Instead of corn you could add chopped home grown jalapenos

Inspiration:

  • After my daughter became vegan I had to rethink all the things I ate. I needed to make things that she and I could eat together. She discovered the Lapsang Souchong tea at the Tea Smith and it quickly became one of her favorites. I noticed the smoky aroma and thought that might be a nice addition to cornbread. She and I both enjoy cornbread very much. It is a great addition to chili or soup.

Tea Bags; Convienence or Compromise?

You may have heard that the tea bag was an accidental discovery. The story goes that in the earlier part of the last century Thomas Sullivan, a tea merchant, sent out samples in hand sewn silk pouches. His customers actually brewed the tea in those and demanded more. He was shipping loose leaf tea, and had that been the end of the story, we would not have had the great advantage of being able to dunk tea bags containing fannings in tepid water, and having that considered to be what tea is. Okay, maybe I am being just a little harsh. After all tea bags are used all over the US and Europe, even in Afternoon Teas. And you can get some nice teas and flavored teas in them, and they certainly are convenient.

My gripe is that like so many other things, we have traded convenience and speed for quality and taste. When I say quality, I am not referring only to the taste of the tea, but to the quality of the experience of tea as well. The process of making a good pot of tea, serving it, and drinking it is not a complicated process, but it does take a little time. Time which can allow us to slow down a little, and actually enjoy tea and the process. After all multi tasking is not absolutely essential to our existence.

Next time you want to ‘enjoy’ your tea, heat the water to the proper temperature, (and not in a microwave, that is cheating), measure out the amount of tea that should be in your cup or pot, give the leave the proper time in the water, and after you pour your first cup, let it cool slightly so that you can really sense the aromas and taste that is in that wonderful leaf that you bought.