While every other tea garden closes for the year, Rujani Tea makes the finest white teas in the cooler winter season in Assam.
As Rujani, we have gone against the grain so often that it’s become a way of life with us. When we started making whole leaf tea, it was everything that Assam’s tea is not popular for, which is commodity tea. But we have for long believed that we are yet to tap Assam tea’s real potential.
So, we asked Amarnath Jha, a Darjeeling planter, to join us to help make our teas. That too was seen as a radical move because Darjeeling was Darjeeling and Assam was Assam, and never the twain did meet. Amarnath had spent over two decades making tea in Darjeeling, and when he joined us three years ago, we were eager to see what our collaboration would bring.
We had already been experimenting with tea plants and cultivars, and wanted a tea maker who was not limited by how things were usually done.
The tea plant's physiology is such that it can produce 4 to 5 flushes in a year, with each flush ending in a period of dormancy or “banjhi” as we call it. Not all flushes are equal, and every terroir has its own prime flush; in Assam, we focus on two flushes, spring and summer. But it’s the spring flush that makes the best black tea. The monsoon follows this season, and in the rains, we stick to making the stock standard Crush-Tear-Curl (CTC) tea. We did not conventionally harvest a winter flush.
But Amarnath suggested that we make tea in winter, like they do in Darjeeling. It was exciting because we didn’t know what the outcome would be. He made a mild green tea and a white tea. As an experiment, we’d say it was successful and encouraging. In his second year with us, “Jha-Ji” as we fondly call him, refined the white tea making in winter. We took this tea to the 2019 Melbourne Tea Festival in Australia. We were very nervous, especially as several visitors stopped at our booth, tasted our whites and left without buying. But when many returned after touring the exhibition, asking to buy a packet of our whites, it was the greatest validation we could ask for.
The Rujani white teas hold a very special place in our collection. We are the first tea estate from Assam to do something besides the ‘conventional’ silver needle white tea. And making it in winter? It defies everything Assam is known for. But that’s what Rujani is about, to show the world of tea drinkers the sheer versatility of Assam’s teas, beyond the CTC and traditional orthodox styles.
It’s winter now, and for the third year running, we are all set to make our speciality white teas. We turn to our section of the garden where we have planted the Chinary tea varietal, similar to what is grown in the highlands of Darjeeling. In the early hours, before daybreak, our pluckers are at work. This tea demands a fine plucking, of one leaf and a bud. In our winters' cooler temperatures, we set out to make small batches of our signature winter white peony or Bai Mu Dan Bliss. This white tea has won the Silver Award in the Single Origin White Tea section at the 2020 Golden Leaf Awards in Australia
It’s a tea that produces a creamy coloured liquor, with a smooth, almost velvety mouthfeel. It’s a tea we personally enjoy drinking, and it works well as a tea to unwind with, in the evening, and to get a good night’s sleep.
Our collection of white teas are all in stock and available for you to buy online.