India offers a Tea-rrific escape

A dozen young women chatter as they furiously shear bright leaves from tea plants that stretch like a green carpet across the plantation.

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A room at Vivanta Hotels and Resorts By Taj, in Coorg, Karnataka, India
A room at Vivanta Hotels and Resorts By Taj, in Coorg, Karnataka, India

Their colourful saris and gold necklaces glisten in the sun as they fill huge brown sacks to be taken back to the on-site factory and weighed.

One lady even needs two burly men to help her lift the bag onto the scale, and I cannot help but gasp when the manager tells me that the sack weighs a whopping 80 kilograms.

In a time of technological advances, it's hard to believe that such manual work goes into making a simple cup of tea.

But during a visit to the Glenlorna Tea Estate, in the heart of Coorg in southern India, I quickly discover that the old ways are definitely the best.

The fresh aroma of tea is overwhelming as I walk from room to room of the factory, where the tea leaves are dried, grounded and filtered ready for auction.

Tea plantations are a rare operation in Coorg, as production is mainly confined to the north of India because the weather conditions are better. But the importance of tea to Indian culture is evident no matter what part of the country you are in.

Visiting the nearby Cottabetta Bungalow, the first thing I am offered as I am greeted by the staff is a steaming pot of tea.

I have a new sense of appreciation for my brew after seeing the work that goes into my favourite beverage.

During a guided jeep tour of the plantations, I watch birds flutter between the 200-year-old trees that extend upwards from the dark coffee bushes that stretch for 1200 acres.

But it is a slight disappointment to learn from our guide that the luscious grounds cannot be explored on foot. He informs me that it's for my own safety.

The region of Coorg is not the first choice for international tourists - particularly as it involves a treacherous seven-hour drive along heavily pot-holed roads from Bangalore airport.

But as I soak in the infinity pool at the Vivanta by Taj Hotel, I feel the knots in my muscles melt away while overlooking the rolling hills of the rainforest.

The resort has been open for less than a year and boasts 62 impressive cottages, which are dotted among the trees.

British rule in India may have ended in 1947 but its influences in the country have had a lasting impression - particularly with the introduction of tea as a popular choice of drink.

And after enjoying a fabulous stay in southern India, it's safe to say the favour has been returned.

Knowing how much work and effort goes into creating the drink, I think I'll appreciate my morning cuppa even more.

Cherry Wilson was a guest of Cox & Kings (www.coxandkings.co.uk) which has an 11-day/eight-night private trip to India priced from £1895 per person. This includes flights with BA, private transfers, a plantation and birdwatching tour, and accommodation with breakfast daily, including one night at the Taj Lands End, Mumbai, two nights at the Cottabetta Bungalow, three nights at the Vivanta by Taj Madikeri and one night at the Taj West End. For more info, visit www.tajhotels.com

Travel

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