I remember waking up and groggily looking out the window as we rocked back and forth on the gravel road that seemed to lead to a desolate mountain peak. As we neared the top, the driver pulled over and exclaimed "Here!". I gazed out the window and felt confusion but also an immense sense of excitement and curiosity.
When we got out of the car a shorter man with a large grin and a firm handshake greeted us and asked us to follow him. We walked down a dirt path to meet a group of community members that were part of the Tinjure Tea Cooperative. With an exchange of smiles and giggles, we were eagerly escorted to a wooden table that was laid out with various teas and cupping sets. As we chatted and waited for the teas to brew, I looked out over the plateau to an expansive and green mountainous landscape. Thin misty clouds rolled in and out of the valleys below, the birds sang us a soothing melody, and the buzzing bees danced on the stunning wildflowers that lined the wooden fences and edges of the tea factory.
With the smell of fresh picked tea leaves in the air, I bowed my head and tasted the perfectly prepared teas. When I finished the flight, I stood back and nodded in amazement as a huge smile started to take over my face. While the rest of those who gathered tried the teas, I stood and asked myself how in the world I had ended up where I was.
Tinjure's teas continue to be some of my favorite teas, but I don't think any tea will taste as good as it did that day.
Lucas has been working with Young Mountain Tea for 4 years. His time in Indian and Nepal in 2018 deepened his commitment to promoting community centric tea production in rural communities.