The ongoing conflict between the local Gorkha’s and the Indian governmet is once again causing problems for Darjeeling’s tea production. If you don’t happen to be abreast of the situation in the North Eastern section of India, it goes something like this; The native Gorkha’s would very much like to be independent of India, and India isn’t about to let that happen. Imagine the U.S. Government giving South Dakota back to the Sioux. The Gorkha’s are something of a populist mafia. Although they are sympathetic to the local labor force and to a large extent to local businesses, they do force strikes. Which means that everything shuts down. If you don’t comply you are in a bit of trouble.
As you can imagine this can cause a lot of problems to businesses in the area. it looks like there might be some problems that coincide with the First Flush this year.
The tea crop is basically the life blood of the region economically. The Gorkha’s use this as leverage in their quest to gain independence by threatening to disrupt local commerce. Most of the labor force lives hand to mouth and these disruptions create significant financial issues.
There has been a recent wage increase, but with the the coldest winter temperatures in the last fifty years, the harvest will be delayed, and possibly disrupted by the political problems.
Some spectacular teas will certainly be produced this spring, and we’re looking forward to trying them. The Darjeeling locals will get everything sorted out to some extent, although it can be a bit difficult for outsiders to understand the social and political balance in the area.
Look for First Flush teas to be available around the beginning of March, possibly later due to the cold.