When one sees the view of magnificent Mount Kanchenjunga from Observatory Hill it is easy to understand why the monks chose to settle there.
The green-fingered-monk who planted the tea bushes that gave us this tea was part of a monastic order that was seeking to set up a new monastery. He decided to settle at Observatory Hill, and finished building the monastery in 1765. By planting tea bushes around the monastery he was following a long tradition of Buddhist monks of growing their own tea to drink as a source of nourishment and support for long periods of meditation. Well versed in matters agricultural, the monk identified the best areas in which to plant tea bushes. In doing so he took into account the quality of the soil, the micro-climate, and the lay of the land – factors which we these days refer to as terroir. Based on the green-fingered monk’s recommendations, the order of monks experimented with propagating and growing tea plants until they could produce enough leaves to produce tea. Having perfected the production process, the tea they produced sustained the order of monks for as long as they were able to stay there.
Following turbulent times, including acquisition of the land by the Nepalese army, the land, with the tea plants still intact, was returned to the monks and officially established as Arya Tea Estate in 1885. Close to Darjeeling town, the Estate spreads across 125 hectares at an altitude of 900 – 1820 meters.
This rare (13kg) batch of “Diamond Tea” is part of Arya’s highly prized “gem” selection and was one of the first batches to be made. It comes from the very early days of the Spring harvest, just after much-needed rains which followed a drought. Made from the increasingly popular Ambari Vegetative 2 (“AV2”) clonal plants, the leaves were plucked from plants grown at 1680 meters, an altitude at which the plants grow slowly, and in doing so develop complex flavour notes.
The dry leaf of this tea has beautiful dark green wiry greenish-brown leaves interspersed with lighter green tips. With a medium colour in the cup, the infusion reveals a deep floral flavour with an underlying sweetness that lingers long in the mouth.