Thurbo is a very famous name when it comes to Darjeeling tea. As with most Darjeeling tea gardens, there is a unique story behind its name. The British set up a camp in this estate to invade Nepal in 1814. The word camp or tent is known as ‘Tombu’ in local dialect and hence over the years the name has morphed into ‘Thurbo’.
In late 1996 we visited Mirik in the winter. It was a misty and damp location lacking attraction other than a small lake filled with catfish. Unknown to us at the time, a short distance away, the Thurbo Tea Estate sits in the shadow of the mighty Kanchenjunga. In the spring and summer, the Mechi and Rangbang rivers gurgle down through the estate to the plains via orange orchards and orchid farms; lending an exotic charm to the tea.
Now to the tasting. The dry leaves are finely sorted and are small in size with lots of golden tips. When steeped for three minutes at 85 degrees, the cup gives out bright yellow/orange liquor and a unique heavy floral musk like aroma raises high above the cup. Each sip is super smooth presenting notes of fruits (apricot or peach, pineapple, citrus) and subtle malt, with a fresh herbaceous backbone. There is little or no astringency, making it ideal to drink without the addition of milk and sugar.