The ‘Our Teas’ series is a series of blogs where we tell you all about our collection, moving one by one through the marvelous and delicious teas that we have in store for you!
Today we will be exploring the newest addition to our exquisite assortment of tea offerings, green tea from Meghalaya, straight from the hills of Shillong.
The establishment of Meghalaya as an autonomous state happened on April 2, 1970, and its recognition as a full-fledged state took place on January 21, 1972.
The state of Meghalaya is one of the seven sisters, a phrase lovingly used to describe the seven states of North-East India. It is located right below the famous tea producing state of Assam (who’s teas we also carry!) and shares a large border with the same.
Meghalaya is undoubtedly a beautiful state and is filled with natural resources like ample rainfall, virgin forests,sunshine, high plateaus, cascading waterfalls, crystal clear rivers and meandering streamlets. Meghalaya is also quickly recognized because it hosts the towns of Cherrapunji and Mawsynram which receive the highest amounts of rainfall in not only in India, but in the entire world.
Nature’s abundance and generosity has given Meghalaya the perfect weather conditions for the growing of tea leaves and thus we can see tea leaves picked from high altitudes in this region as Meghalaya is geographically located in the easter sub-Himalayas.
Meghalaya also has a rich cultural history that the people associate with. However, the most important thing here is to see where our tea comes from in Meghalaya. It comes from an estate called the Lakyrsiew tea garden which is located in Shillong. Shillong is not listed as a mainstream tea producing region considering when other tea plantations were taking the shape they continue to hold today in regions like Assam and Darjeeling during the British rule, the tribes in the Meghalayan region opposed the plantation and large scale cultivation of twa on their land and it is only recently that tea planting and cultivation has started.
The Lakyrsiew tea garden is unique because the tea plantation is small and family owned. They produce beautiful, handcrafted tea along with being environment friendly and having wonderful working conditions. They produce small amounts of high quality tea each year.
Meghalayan Tea & What it tastes like
Lakyrsiew garden’s green teas are an explosion of fruity fragrance with notes of mango, pineapple, and stone fruit. The tea is produced in the traditional Chinese fashion of pan-roasted leaf fresh from the garden. They have the same long finish and lack of astringency as their black tea counterparts, which is uncommon in green teas. Lakyrsiew's green teas are fresh and fragrant. They also pair very well with wine and are great drinks to have some food with!
For Lakyrsiew teas to reveal themselves at their best a few small precautions are necessary. First, the water, which should always be fresh and of good filtered or bottled quality. Green teas should be brewed for 4 to 5 minutes at a temperature of 85 degrees, using 12 grams per liter. One should avoid using boiling water as this will ‘burn’ the tea and bring out some undesirable bitterness.
How is it grown
Meghalaya is subject to the monsoon's whims. The atmosphere changes as one ascends in altitude. The Khasi and Jaintia Hills have a distinct and refreshing climate. It is neither too hot in the summer nor too cold in the winter, but the climate is mild and humid over the plains of the Garo Hills, except in the winter. The sky in Meghalaya is usually always cloudy. This rainfall and the geographic patterns make it conducive for tea plantations.
The lakyrsiew plantation itself is located between 1,000 and 1,300 metres above sea level on the southern bank of Umiam Lake. During the monsoon season, the estate receives heavy rains, and it also has its own spring, which provides clean, sweet water all year. During the dry season, the lake's mists shield the garden from drought. Contour planting on Lakyrsiew's steep slopes, along with organic cultivation methods, enriches the soil and produces a delicate tea of exceptional quality.
The tea leaves are harvested and plucked according to flushes, at the beginning and end of Spring, in Summer and then in the Monsoon season.