Tea Story – A Tea Tale From Sikkim by David Lyons
In 2013, I was fortunate to be invited by the Indian Government to visit the region of North Eastern India, particularly Assam, West Bengal and Sikkim. Initially I was with around 80 other delegates from every corner of the world. After we had completed the first week attending functions, marts and seminars, we were split up in to smaller groups. I found myself in a group with seven others from Japan, France, Italy, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Our group was to travel on to the northern state of Sikkim.
After an incredibly long day of travelling on trains and in 4wd’s, we finally arrived in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, and our base for the next week. Being near to Darjeeling, I was fortunate enough to drink my fair share of very nice Darjeeling teas, mainly second flush teas which are preferred by the locals. I also got to drink the local tea – Sikkim Temi, which for many is similar to a Darjeeling.
During our stay in Sikkim we were privileged to meet many Sikkimese people, in villages, towns, and even in their own homes. The Sikkimese people are a gentle and very hospitable people, while the region offers breathe taking views, being in the Himalaya’s. The homes we visited presented us with food and drinks, allowing us to taste and experience local food and drink traditions, which of course included many styles of tea. I even experienced salt tea after becoming a little giddy with altitude sickness, and one of our guides Manoj, suggested the tea would help! Umm! anything to make me look stupid, I believe.
Towards the end of our stay, I remember one particular visit, we were shown around a village, and visited a range of different homestay accommodations, where tourists could stay with a local family. These homestays were amazing but we were by this point becoming quite exhausted with our constant travelling. One of the ladies from the village realised this and asked us to go with her to her home, as I said, very hospitable.
As we arrived at her home, she invited us in, we sat and chatted with her husband, while she was busy in the kitchen. Then she appeared with a large teapot and small metal bowls. She started to pour the tea and explained that this was her own herbal infusion and that it would help us with the travel fatigue, we were feeling. We all sat and enjoyed this very lightly brewed infusion and as we sipped, whether it was the herbs or whether it was that we simply sat and enjoyed tea with such lovely people, I’ll never know. But I certainly, relaxed and felt a little more human again. I will never forget the gesture of this lady, the sharing of tea with my colleagues, her husband and herself. It truly was for me a tea moment!
I thank my two very good friends Manoj and Prashant of the Sikkim Tourism Office, for creating this and many more memories, which I hold so dear. If you ever get the opportunity to visit the wonderful state of Sikkim, be sure to contact these guy’s and tell them David sent you!
So this was one of my many tea stories, now it’s your turn to share one of yours. Send me an email with a short story of your tea experience and an image attached which relates to your story. Then I can share your story with all the other subscribers of 18ThirtyFours monthly newsletter.