This time last year: The many outfits of Mr. Rajah Banerjee, managing director of the Makaibari Tea Estate. Darjeeling, India. May 2013.
This time last year: I made my own tea. Top: leaves after the overnight wilt (separated in two piles, but same leaves). Note the handwritten label to identify my batch. Bottom: hand-rolling in the Makaibari factory. May 2013.
This time last year: Women plucking tea in the fields of Makaibari Estate, May 2013
Welcome to Makaibari
In May 2013 I visited the Makaibari Tea Estate in Darjeeling. On my second day I met the director Rajah Banerjee for tea and he gave me the official welcome scarf. It’s stamped twice with the Makaibari logo.
Makaibari Silver Tips with Thomas in Berlin.
May 2013. A snippet of the drive from Bagdogra Airport up to Makaibari Tea Estate. In Darjeeling, West Bengal, India.
Special eddition 1KG crate from Makaibari Tea Estate
In the past tea was shipped around the world in huge wood crates. They were branded with company names and logos and covered in customs and tariff details. Small versions of the crates exist too and these days are collectors items.
When I visited Makaibari in May 2013 the director, Rajah Banerjee, was kind enough to gift me a personalized 1KG size wood crate. It was built by the Makaiibari caprenter Santey Chettri.
During my time getting to know the team at Makaibari I also made a small batch of tea in the style of the famous Silver Tips Imperial. Rajah tasted it and declared “this shall be called Michaelangelo Tips!” The team made a custom stencil and painted it on one side.
This crate is made of wood with edges reinforced with tin. The interior is lined with a thin foil type paper. The nails were very rusty, signifying their age. It stands 9 inches tall by 8.5 inches wide.
Please do not step on teas. Tea is our god.
Makaibari Factory, Kurseong, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India. May 2013
Rajah Banerjee, director of the Makaibari estate, doing his morning tasting. Each of these came from different portions of the fields two days prior. He’s sampling each, analyzing flavor and aroma of the liquor and look of the leaves, all knowing the many factors that play part: location of the bush on the estate, weather when plucked, machines used for rolling, and more.
Tea pluckers plucking in Makaibari, Darjeeling. They’re speaking Nepali.