I have been sampling different brands of Darjeeling tea and recently tried Mim Estate loose leaf. I find it marvelous. Mim Estate tea has a lovely clear amber color, with a pronounced and enticing sweet-floral scent. I find it a pleasure to curl up with a cup, much like a good classic book that one can read again and again.
This enjoyment of Mim Estate tea sent me on one of my armchair travels to see the land where it is produced, the Darjeeling region of West Bengal, India. The first thing I found is that there is hardly any original information about Mim Estate. The small bit of commentary I found on the estate was from tea sellers, and all of it word for word the same, clearly a description borrowed and lent around the internet stores. I found a listing of Darjeeling district tea estates, complete with telephone numbers and number of workers. Mim Estate is on the list, but all information blank. It appears Mim Estate is something of a mystery.
Have you tried Wikimapia? It is a marvelous, and mysterious, internet tool providing satellite photographs of the world. When I plugged Mim Estate into Wikimapia, a photograph came up of a cluster of buildings nestled in a valley between rugged mountain ranges. I zoomed in. There, letters written in white on the dark roof of a large building: MimTeaEstate. Really? When I clicked on the Map Type, I got a selection with Satellite + old places, whatever that means. I clicked on it to find out. A square appeared over a house with the title ‘Chandana Mim Residence’. Was there actually a person named Mim who started the estate? Who was this person? Where did they come from? (Or in the South, we would say, “Who were their people?”) The inquiring mind of a writer is insatiable. I wanted details, like marriages, maybe even the names of children and any idiosyncrasies.
Refilling my cup with more Mim Estate tea, I enjoyed a great morning trekking around The Official Website of the Darjeeling District (and I didn’t even have to worry about good shoes or a coat.) I discovered that Darjeeling tea is also grown in the Kurseong region. The altitudes in these mountains ranging from 600 to 2000 meters above sea level, the type of soil and the abundant rainfall is what gives Darjeeling tea its unique characteristics of ‘muscatel’ flavor and strong fragrance.
I knew, of course, of Rudyard Kipling living and writing of India, but I discovered that a favorite son of the United States, Mark Twain, also traveled the ‘length and breadth’ of India for two months and stayed for a time in Kurseong, a name that means ‘the place of white orchid’. Of India, Mark Twain wrote: “The one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once-by even a glimpse would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the world combined.”
The mystery of Mim Tea Estate remains. I have not found out another word as to history, family, and state of operations today. But I imagine it all, as I sip the liquor of the Darjeeling tea leaves, from plants that perhaps even served Mark Twain. How long to tea plants grow anyway? The writer’s inquiring mind sends me off on more armchair travels…
Be sure to pay a visit to CurtissAnn’s website, CurtissAnnMatlock.com.
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