First Flush Tea 2018 & the significance of Holi commonly known as Phaguaa in the tea gardens
You all must be perplexed as to what is the correlation of Holi and First Flush, one is the festival of colours and the other is the first produce of the year.
We spoke to old stalwarts from the industry to understand the importance. According to Mr Gitesh Sasan, a Former Tea Planter with Jardines in Dooars and Assam, “work on the tea gardens stop from mid-December after they have completed the pruning cycle. During this time the tea bushes become dormant and get a chance to improve its health. Depending up the type of pruning, new shoots start forming my mid of February. This is when you start doing some plucking to make the table even and this takes about two weeks. Usually, Holi is celebrated around the first week of March by then the fresh shoots appear on the even table, this gets plucked post-Holi and is usually the actual First Flush”.
According to N K Puri, a former Tea Planter with Goodricke in Darjeeling in Dooars, “Holi is actually celebrated with a lot of vigour, the Managerial staff have Holi parties and picnic’s and this is usually the last holiday before serious work starts so everyone enjoys the festival to the fullest, usually in the gardens Holi celebrations last 2 – 3 days after which the season starts.”
The first shoots that appear on the levelled table are what are used in the manufacture of First Flush, the initial lots in Darjeeling are of small quantities same goes for Assam and Dooars. While the flavour may be slightly muted in the first batch, the flavour starts increasing gradually with every batch as the leaf matures.
Holi is a Hindu spring festival also known as the “Festival of Colours”, It signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. It is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest and celebration lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Vikram Samvat Hindu Calendar month of Phalguna, which falls somewhere between the end of February and the middle of March in the Gregorian calendar. The first evening is known as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi and the following day as Holi, Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi, or Phagwah.
The First Flush is the First produce after winter in the Spring season which is why Holi is an important festival in the tea estates, the labour and the management pray for a good harvest after all it is the start to a new season. Also, the colour liquor of the tea keeps changing with every cycle of manufacture, so you will see different shades of liquor as the year progresses.
At Teacupsfull, we take this opportunity to thank all our patrons, customers and suppliers. We pray for a good tea harvest this year. We look forward to brewing your cup of tea.