Juliet Coombe goes for a walk through the Golden Valley with Andrew Taylor, Tea Trails’ resident planter and discovers the magic that lies behind our daily cuppa.
Through swathes of emerald green tea bushes and swirls of the tea pickers’ colourful saris we walk through the staircases of tea listening to the click of fingers as they snap two leaves and a bud. As a particularly pretty tea picker appeared from behind a tea bush, Andrew explained that only small and agile feminine hands, and the patience of the female temperament, can achieve high yield leaf-plucking.
Before he could complete his sentence she turned round, her gold bangles catching the early morning light as she lent forward and with her index finger and a quick flick of her wrist picked a tea bud and two young top leaves. With her bangles chiming like bells, she ceremoniously handed her pickings over to me to inspect. Once her wicker basket was full of fine quality leaves she walked off barefoot along a hand-cut mud trail, and disappeared at the brow of the hill into a shed area, where the tea is inspected and then weighed on a set of hanging scales. Read more: Daily News_ Features _ TEA Tales, VALLEY OF GOLD