Tough Challenges for Tea Growers and the Fire at Darjeeling Ambootia Tea Garden Factory

We often think (and bloggers like me write about) the challenges of steeping tea just right. But there are tough challenges behind the scenes, so to speak, and one of the most frightening is the tea garden fire. Tea garden fires are nothing new, and the latest one at the Darjeeling garden of Ambootia is quite a tragedy. See full story here. It doesn’t say if any of the employees were injured. What it does say is how the fire was worse due to the local fire workers not being able to respond to their utmost (one of the fire trucks couldn’t pump water. It also says that their current harvest that had been partially processed was lost. Quite an economic challenge for all involved. (If you want to donate to help them over this hardship, go to the story linked above and write “I will support” in the comments – they are trying to assess whether to start a fund-raising campaign.)

One commenter intimated that the fire might have been purposeful. “Dewasish Gurung there was dispute going on for land some days back at ambotia…i can assure u all there is some evil minds behind this…there should be full fledged investigation on this…at least labours can call for it…same was the case with sonada railway station but nobody is concerned with it at all…btw “i support”…” See a story about the dispute here. [Ambootia map shown here is a still capture from the full map here: Darjeeling Garden Map on Blog.]

About Ambootia Tea Garden

The Ambootia tea garden was first planted in 1861, a couple of years after the Makaibari tea garden. A sustained drop in prices forced a decision to let the garden go dormant for several years. The garden, with 370 acres of planted tea shrubs, was rejuvenated as prices rebounded (now at record-setting levels). Low-yield and diseased bushes, some as old as 100 years, have been removed. New plants, cloned from original “mother bushes,” are nurtured is rows until they are ready for transplanting in the fields. A tremendous amount of money was spent to revitalize the estate, including upgrading the entire factory to the latest standards in 2012, and it now supports over 4,000 people (workers and their families). Or it did before the fire.

© 2014 A.C. Cargill photos and text


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