Over the last few months, I’ve tasted a range of teas from Doke Tea Estate and it was a treat! So, for the final post to the series, I thought it would be nice to hear from Phil from the World Tea House, who sourced the teas and the tea estate itself!
One challenge I face is tasting teas from the same tea producing area since there is so much to learn about a region/country when you can do direct comparisons. So, whenever I see a company selling multiple teas from one producer, I jump at the chance to try them all. That is what happened when I saw a green, oolong, and black tea from Doke Tea Estate.
I wanted to learn more about the teas and Phil kindly agreed to have a virtual tea tasing session where I asked him some questions about tea and his relationship with the Doke Tea Estate. He also put me in touch with Rajiv Lochan, the founder of the Estate, who runs it with two of his children, Vivek and Neha, and he was able to give me some insight into how the Estate originally started:
Rajiv: “Bihar government wanted to stop human migration to other places as locals of this area could not cultivate their lands due to heat[.] They offered us cheap lands and declared the tea cultivation in our area as “non-traditional tea growing area” which had [a] lot of easy terms for capital raising. [In] 1998[,] [the government] gave us very cheap irrigation. When we started making tea [in] 2012 we specialised in black tea [b]ut we also made some green and white teas[.]”
When speaking with Phil in the past, I noticed a large focus was tea farms. So, I asked why the focus and how he got in contact with Doke originally.
Phil: “A big part of opening my tea house was supporting small organic tea farms. The more I travelled, met farmers, and studied the teas and customs the more my origin blend menu increased.
I first met Rajiv through his son[,] Vivek. [V]ivek was asking for help writing descriptions on Darjeelings and some of Doke’s first offerings. They sent me samples, I tasted, and I wrote descriptions they could use for selling to North American customers. A year after that I connected with Rajiv at World Tea Expo.
I travelled to India in 2015 and stayed at [Rajiv’s] house, planted on his farm, and we have been great friends since. [W]hen I first visited in 2015 the town in Bihar by the farm was very run down and impoverished. On my last visit in 2019, there was a huge difference. Farms. Buildings. Schools. And there has been even more since. Seeing that [is] very rewarding knowing my purchases, and my customers, are going directly to help a community in need instead in the pockets of a big tea Corp.”
Since Phil spoke so highly of the Estate, and also strongly recommended their teas, I was curious to see what he thought was unique about the farm.
Phil: “Doke is a truly unique garden for many reasons. They employ aboriginal women from Bihar to work three fields, it’s managed by his daughter Neha (one of the five female run tea farms in India) and up to a couple of years ago had no power. Everything was done by hand. It produced a raw, rustic, authentic tea unlike anything else that was coming out of north India at the time.”
Lastly, now that I have tasted a handful of Doke’s teas, I wanted to know what Phil’s favourite tea was!
Phil: “Favourite Tea from Doke is their Black Fusion. I adore this tea. It reminds me of the farm, making tea there with Neha, the essence of community at Doke and what they give back to the local area.”
I am so glad that both Rajiv and Phil gave me their time to help me learn more about the estate! I have to agree that the Black Fusion was also my favourite! In total, I tried three teas from Doke Tea Estate: Diamond Green (green), Rolling Thunder (oolong), and Black Fusion (black).
The question of the post: Which tea would you have tried?
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