Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gong Xi Fa Cai and Being Spoiled at Glenburn Tea Estate

Gong Xi Fa Cai - Happy Chinese New Year!  And though I'm currently focusing on Darjeeling, India, its tea history is closely connected to you know the story of Robert Fortune? Part botanist, part spy, full-fledged thief (for the East India Company), he is the man responsible for bringing Chinese tea plants to Darjeeling and that, my friends, has made all the difference.  For more information, I recommend the book For All the Tea in China.  (The book on tape version is good.)

Our accomodations in Darjeeling were provided by the Glenburn Tea Estate, founded in 1859.  (See the current edition of TEA, A Magazine, for a profile of Glenburn.)  The late 1850's saw the beginning of the British Raj period, when Britain ruled over India (stretching through 1947).  The architecture of the buildings reflected this British Colonial style. 

We arrived in the evening, prior to dinner.  My room friend and I were shown to the Rose Suite.  We giggled like school girls with our good fortune and the serendipity, as roses are especially significant to my friend.  Throughout China, we were by no means roughing it, yet we were often staying in remote locales where even the best accommodations had limited amenities.  What a contrast to be here in luxury.  There could have been no better place to close out this adventure.  
Vanity in the Rose Suite

The suite was spacious with a sun porch, vanity, writing desk, two sleeping areas, a large bath, and spectacular views that revealed themselves the next morning.

Fruit grown on the estate; other items grown onsite included avocados, oranges, pomellos and many herbs.

Poster bed, soft and fluffy, a welcome change from the hard mattresses in China.

The dining room, complete with candlelight, place cards, and flowers.  Each evening we dined on a different pattern of china. 

Dinners were several-course affairs, with appetizers and drinks in the sitting room, followed by a gourmet meal in the dining room.  We enjoyed sharing dinner with Husna-Tara Prakash, the visionary behind this quaint inn and member of the family that owns the plantation, Sanjay Sharma, the plantation manager, and his wife Neilu, Najma Ahmed, our onsite hostess, and the other guests. 

This scene inspired me to light candles more often at home.

Our suite was just off the dining room, in the Burra Bungalow, the original.  The facility was restored in 2002.   In 2008, the Prakash family added a second bungalow.  It is hard to fathom how the building materials were transported here, even with modern-day equipment.  I cannot begin to envision how it was done in the 1800s!

The classy bath, with claw-footed tub and walk-in slate shower.

After dinner, many of my traveling companions enjoyed a good soak in claw-footed tubs.  When I indulged, I soaked until the water turned cold!

Glenburn has its own line of bath products that include green tea extracts from tea picked on the plantation.

I resolved many things on this trip, but two things stand out for me related to Glenburn  1 - I want to come back here someday and 2 - I want to bring this kind of luxury into my everyday life.  It don't require spending money, just creativity and a bit of effort.  I can take a bath and add a scented oil.  I can add candles to the table at dinner and have a long conversation with the DH.  I can use the china and linens that I love, and so forth.  Glenburn has been an inspiration. 

But wait, there's more!  Next I will talk about Bed Tea and breakfast, and then we'll go into the tea fields, see the pickers, learn about the processing, have a picnic and more.


Rosemary said...

A visit to the Glenburn Tea Estate has just been added to my bucketlist! Thanks for sharing! Between your photos, and the ones in Tea, A Magazine, it does indeed look heavenly!

Antiques And Teacups said...

What a wonderful post. Darjeeling is my favorite anyway, so especially interesting! Thanks for visiting and so nice to meet you. Will be looking forward to the next post. And can definitely tell the difference between old and new Old Country Roses!

Angela McRae said...

Oh my goodness, I just loved hearing about this part of your trip! And I totally agree about making the "everyday" more special, which really just seems to be about a mindset more than anything.

Teafan said...

Great pics. The stuff that Robert Fortune stole is amazing - intellectual property and real property at its best.

amherstrose said...

Oh, the divineness (is that a word?) of it all!!!! Yes, it was a singular experience filled with so many comforts and incredible sights, sounds, tastes, and fragrances.
Steph, you have captured it beautifully. The time spent there was refreshing for mind, body, and soul. I am still enjoying my fragrant bath tea products and a spritz of the tea infused room spray takes me back to the days we spent luxuriating in this splendid escape. Kudos to all of the kind and generous people of Glenburn for their amazing hospitality. And thank you again dear room friend!!

Marilyn said...

I have dreamed of going there. Thanks for taking us along. What a very special trip. I love also that you are learning to make each day special and no it doesn't take a lot.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful read for an armchair traveller like myself. i especially love the bits of history that you included. Thank you!

Danielaberly said...

There are two most well-known Tea Property rooms in Darjeeling. The Glenburn Property is on a hilly place and looks over the spectacular Himalayan varies.

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realestginia said...

I just liked listening to about this aspect of your trip! And I completely recognize about creating the "everyday" more unique, which really just seems to be about a attitude more than anything.

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