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These tea leaves come from a garden very close to Darjeeling town which has the only original small-leaved Chinese variety of bushes planted by the British over 100 years ago. This means relatively low yields but exceptional flavour.

The infused tea has a light amber colour, with a little more strength and less greenness than many First Flush teas. It has some dryness on the palate and good muscatel flavour, with a subtle sweetness in the aftertaste.

The place we now know as Darjeeling, translated from Tibetan literally means “the land of the thunderbolt”. It was also once known as the “Queen of the Hills.”

It is said there was a mighty god, who controlled nature. He coaxed the flowers to grow and allowed the rain to fall. But he was fickle and he often punished villages according to his mood.  The place we now know as Darjeeling was then a humble village, which often faced the wrath of this angry god. He would bring his clouds and rain and dull weather with him and throw thunderbolts in frustration. One day a young local girl travelled to the foot of the mountains that lay to the east and prayed to this god. She prayed that he would leave their town alone to thrive of its own accord. She thought him a cruel god and accused him of abusing the power he held, when he should have been using it to help his people.

The god heard her prayers and on seeing her, was struck by her beauty. Her words cut deep and he spent the night alone in the mountains, thinking over his mistakes. The next day, when the villagers awoke to a dull orange sun emerging, painting the sky with brilliant strokes of magenta, gold, terracotta and fuchsia. The snow-capped Everest, Kabru, Kanchenjunga, Jannu and other peaks slowly became visible. The village folk gasped at the magnificent sight. As the fog lifted, the village gradually came alive. Flowers opened to the sun, grass grew green and fresh and the tea bushes flourished.

The god looked on the village and claimed it to be the “Queen of the Hills”.

These pearls are made using small leaves from white tea bushes in Fuding, a mountainous region with a good deal of seacoast on Fujian’s border with Zhejiang province. The tightly rolled balls are repeatedly scented with fresh jasmine blossoms which creates the appealing fragrance. Pale in colour with a delicate flavour and pronounced jasmine aroma. The leaves will unfurl when they are infused and can be re-infused many times.  The attractive nature of this tea is best appreciated in a tall glass or shallow white drinking bowl that shows off the leaves at their best.

The coastal area means that the mountains are often covered in a dense sea fog. Legend tells of a mighty dragon with eyes like pearls and a sweet scent to fool its prey. As the sea fog climbed the hillsides, so would the dragon, rising from the waters and hiding in the brume. The villagers would try repeatedly to kill the dragon, but it would always rise again, like a phoenix from the ashes.

After many years, the villagers realised that every time the dragon came ashore, the mountains became rich with minerals from the sea water, allowing them to grow the finest tea bushes.   And so they would leave animal meat on the areas of the hillside they wanted to grow, tempting the dragon to those fields. The region prospered and the people thanked the gods for the dragon they once feared.

This Darjeeling Tea produced in the gardens of Thurbo in Nepal is highly regarded and has a rare and delicate fragrance. The hybrid of Chinese and Assam features create a tea which is bright and full of flavour, and also beautifully rounded and sweet. The surrounding orange orchards and orchid farms all add to the exotic charm of this tea.

The unique name of the tea relates back to an historic event in the area.

Between 1814 – 16, the Anglo-Nepalese War raged. It was also known as the Gurkha War. Fought between the Kingdom of Nepal and the British East India Company as a result of border disputes and ambitious expansionism on both sides, this was to herald a significant change in both countries.

The British attacked, while the Nepali defended, under the guidance of Captain Balbhadra Kunwar. His army of 600 contained men, women and children, while the British army of 3500 contained only men. The Nepali took refuge at a strategic fort hill but after a month, the British realised they could not win with their military efforts and so tried to cut off the water supply to thirst the Nepali out.

Still the Nepali were determined to defend their position. They walked out of the fort in single file, drank from the river and went back inside. The British looked on in amazement.

After several days, Captain Balbhadra emerged with drawn Kukri’s (utility knives) in his hands and 70 survivors. He roared at the British “You could never have won the battle but now I myself, voluntarily abandon this fort. There is nothing left inside but the corpses of women and children.” He and the remaining troops then escaped into the hills.

 

After this war, Britain began recruiting Gurkhas into the British-India army and they still recruit into the British army to this day.

The soldier-poet, John Ship, wrote about the Gurkhas:

“I never saw more steadinesses

Or bravery exhibited in my life.

Run they would not and of death

They seemed to have no fear

Though their comrades were falling

Thick around them, as bold

For we were so near to know

That every shot of ours told.”

The place in which the British built their camps was called “Tombu”, which means “tent”. Over the years, this became known as Thurbo and is the very place this tea grows, and why it is named Darjeeling Thurbo.

The exotic gardens are said to now be blessed by nature itself, as a reward to the Gurkhas for their immense bravery and determination to their land.

At Ringtons we have been sourcing the finest teas from all over the world for over 100 years: it’s fair to say we’ve had a “tea obsession since 1907.” What we love most of all is finding rare and very special teas to bring home to you so everyone can enjoy the wonderful world of Ringtons tea.
We launch this new range with 12 truly extraordinary teas – from the processing methods used, exceptional growing conditions and outstanding flavours – they each have their own incredible story. From Darjeeling to Ceylon, Assam to China: our tea-tasters travel the globe in search of those teas special enough to call ‘Ringtons Rare.’ We hope you enjoy the journey…

Click here to see our Ringtons Rare range

 Enter our Ringtons Rare Competition here

 

 

 

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