As our journey through beautiful southern India comes to a close, we find ourselves graced with some last minute sites, sounds and experiences. Here in the Ernakulam district of Kochin, one of the finest natural harbors in the world (and the oldest port in the country), we watched a local dance called Theyyam. Theyyam is an artistic dance where metaphysical thoughts and expressions of immortal souls are impersonated to a believer through a mortal body. The cultural dance originated from “Kaliyattam” once practiced by the tribal community of north Kerala. Theyyam has grown to the present form through many transformations since its origin. As you can see, the dance was truly a sight to behold.
The Theyyam dance
Fire is used in the Theyyam dance
As you can imagine, we also participated in various tea cuppings and tastings on our journey from garden to garden in south India. A tea cupping is the process of tasting and evaluating the quality of full-leaf loose teas. This combination of art and science includes a number of steps and helps growers determine the quality of the teas so that they can select only the best.
Carla Vallese, Minister of Integrity, shares her experience from our tea cupping at Chamraj Estate:
“For me, tea is not just a beverage, but a life-long passion and as a tea taster, being at the Chamraj tea estate was the ultimate experience of a lifetime. At over 6,500 ft. above sea level, Chamraj teas are classified as high grown and have distinctive characters that are sought after by tea experts world over. This estate maintains high plucking and manufacturing standards that are ever apparent when cupping. Seeing and touching well made tippy leaves, smelling the aroma of the infused leaves and finally tasting the amber cup was the ultimate sensory experience.”
Jeff Braswell, Minister of Southeast Commerce, pauses for reflection on his tea trip experiences:
“I have had the privilege to travel with The Republic of Tea to other amazing countries of origin, but I must say that southern India is a land and country unique in many ways! The vastness and beauty of the tea estates in its mountain regions are beyond compare for me. The hills almost seem to have a lush green carpet covering. The highest elevated growing region in the world provides a special atmosphere for wildlife and agriculture.
From the sounds of car horns and busy life in its bustling cities, to the peaceful slower pace of its mountain regions…the culture and diversity of the people here is as fascinating as the landscape. Southern India is a place and experience that I will take with me for years to come!”
On the final days of our trip we also saw…
Floating hibiscus flower arrangements
Traditional wooden elephants
A Vishu Festival in Thekkady
Black monkeys (known for their long tails)
Now, as the sun sets in Kochin, we reflect on the wonderful opportuniTEAS we were able to experience together. After learning about all of the activities from our tea trip we hope that Citizens and tea drinkers everywhere come to realize the beauty of tea and just how significant it is to this region of the world. We hope that on this virtual journey through tea, you find ways to appreciate every cuppa and live life Sip by Sip, Rather Than Gulp by Gulp.
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