Spotlight: Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling, India

If tea, culture, and adventure interests you, add this to your list of things to do during your trip to the Himalayas! Glenburn is an estate with such a rich history and culture that is quite evident after spending just one day on the grounds.

We were greeted by the friendly, Will & Faye, the hotel managers at the time. They knew who we were as soon as we stepped out of the cab, because Glenburn only has the capacity for a few visitors a day which makes for a nice personalized experience.

During our short history lesson, we learned that Glenburn Tea Estate was originally owned by a Scottish tea company and was soon transferred over to a pioneering tea planting family, or the “Chaiwala” family. Since the opening in 1859, there has been five generations of the Prakash family to run the estate.

There is also generations upon generations of people that reside within the three villages on the land. The estate gives back to the community by providing health care, school, and jobs. Nearly every person that lives here works on the estate as well. During your stay you will get to meet the natives and have real conversations with them about their lives in the Glenburn Tea Estate.

We enjoyed a tour of the factory, which was extremely interesting to me because I am an avid tea drinker and previously worked at a tea cafe in Kalamazoo, MI. In fact, my boss was the one to point me in the direction of Glenburn. I enjoyed seeing the extensive process behind creating the perfect tea and at the end we were able to taste about eight different blends (Silver Needle is my favorite!)

 

Once we finished our super informative tea tour we headed out on a three hour hike in the Himalayas! Our guide, Neeru, was such good company; she told us about growing up in the village and told us her dreams to go to China for college. She really stuck out to me because she told us that, though she had not ever left the estate, she was ready and willing to go to a huge city like Hong Kong. She seemed very brave and fearless, I liked that.

When we weren’t having quality conversation with Neeru, we were admiring our surroundings. We passed through the mountains, the jungle, and soon we reached the bottom at the River Rungeet. They provided us with a BBQ meal complete with fresh ingredients (they grow their own fruits & veggies) and a nice cold beer, or juice, after our long hike. We had truly earned this meal!

We were nice and tired after our hike and a good meal so we decided to take the jeep back up. The staff had tea and dessert waiting for us when we reached the main building and it was such a sweet way to end the day.

Though it is about $100 USD per person (plus a cab ride) to spend a day on the Glenburn Tea Estate, it is an unforgettable experience and I doubt you will regret the investment. As I said, we were only here for one day but Glenburn Tea Estate has much more to offer! Check out their website for more information on various packages.

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