Darjeeling’s tea bushes run across a mythical Indian landscape steeped in the religious, the sacred, and the picturesque. Planted among eighty-seven tea estates at high elevation in the heart of the eastern Himalayas, the linear rows of brilliant green waist-high shrubs that coat the steep slopes and valleys produce less than 1 percent of India’s tea. Yet with its bright color and muscatel flavor, Darjeeling is generally considered the finest tea in the world.
Built from scratch, India’s tea industry grew to be the largest on the globe and came to symbolize British imperial rule in India. The jewel of its production was, and remains, Darjeeling, and its story is rich in people, intrigue, and terroir. It includes Robert Fortune, whose mid-nineteenth-century smuggling of tea plants and expertise from China brought the British East India Company the quality tea it sought; the charismatic and controversial Rajah Banerjee, whose family owned the iconic Makaibari plantation for 150 years; the tea pluckers who underpin the industry; and the lone auctioneer who bangs down his hammer oversees the sale more than half of Darjeeling’s entire crop. But it is also the story of how this Edenic spot in the Himalayan foothills is beset by labor and political unrest and alarming climate change that threaten its future.
With passion and perception, Koehler illuminates a historic and arcane world, such that an ordinary tea bag and the cup enjoyed by tens of millions each day take on entirely new meanings.
“There is no leaf unturned in Barcelona-based food journalist Koehler’s exposition on the growing of Darjeeling tea.” ―Kirkus Reviews”The author’s friendly writing style and obvious passion for the subject makes the book an entertaining read.” ―Library Journal”When he writes about the tea itself . . . how the pickers skillfully pluck the leaves and toss them into a basket, how the tea smells as it’s being dried, the daily taste tests at each estate–his prose is both sensory and balletic.” ―Chicago Tribune”This exhaustively researched and eminently readable book will delight foodies, history buffs and armchair travelers alike.” ―Seattle Times”It is not just about Darjeeling, though; and not even just about tea. It is also about the history of colonial and post-colonial India . . . As for the rest, it is a book teeming with characters and interest. Koehler, described as ‘writer, photographer, traveller and cook,’ has the polymath’s curiosity for everything, as well as the writer’s ability to listen to and retell a good story . . . A richly digressive book.” ―Guardian
About the Author
Jeff Koehler is a writer, traveler, and cook, and the author of books and articles on food and culture, including Spain: Recipes and Traditions, named one of 2013’s top cookbooks by the New York Times; Morocco: A Culinary Journey with Recipes; and La Paella: Deliciously Authentic Rice Dishes from Spain’s Mediterranean Coast. His work has appeared in Saveur, Food & Wine, NPR.org, NationalGeographic.com, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Afar, Tin House, and Best Food Writing 2010. He lives in Barcelona.
I spent a week in Darjeeling in 1978. It was unlike any other place in India. The Gorkhas were hospitable and honest to the marrow of their bones. The trips in Jonga Jeep to Tiger Hills in the early morning to see sunrise are still fresh in my memory. The book is a treasure for tea lovers. Superb! Darjeeling tea is the elixir of my life – many thanks to Jeff
This is an outstanding book about tea. Geography, history, politics, growing conditions, processing methods, and on and on. This is the tea book I have been looking for for years. I have marked and dogeared many pages, and will use this as my go-to source for tea information. Absolutely a treasure.
Great Book on the history of Darjeeling Teas in India! A fascinating read and I learned a great deal.
- Title: Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea
- Autor: Jeff Koehler
- Publisher (Publication Date): Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (July 12, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1620405121 | 162040513X
- ISBN-13: 978-1620405123 | 978-1620405130
- Download File Format: EPUB, PDF