Indian tea tourism helps spread Darjeeling aroma

KURSEONG, August 19, 2008 (AFP) – Touring tea gardens in India’s famous Darjeeling hills and tasting several varieties of the gold-coloured brew has got Audrey Dreyer thinking about a career in the trade. Dreyer, from France, is among a growing number of tourists wanting to experience life on the estates in the famous tea-growing region to learn about some of the world’s most coveted varieties.

As part of a new push to promote their brands worldwide and after having trained tourists for no charge in recent years, many estates are now offering specialised live-in training courses on the plantations for a fee.

The privately owned Lochan Tea Limited company is one of those, where students undertake a three-month course in international tea trading.

Spurred by the growing market for Darjeeling tea in her home country, Dreyer and two friends have just graduated from a course on the estate.

“In France, the market for tea has increased and Darjeeling is the most famous. Here we have learnt about manufacturing, marketing and visited tea gardens,” the 20-year-old student says.

Dreyer’s friend Marine Legastelois, also from France, agrees the experience has been beneficial.