Tom Vater

Tom Vater

Irreverent, informed and downright eclectic crime fiction and reportage from Southeast Asia and beyond

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Darjeeling’s tea king wants an organic agricultural revolution in The Nikkei Asian Review

My latest story in The Nikkei Asian Review with photographs by Aroon Thaewchatturat.

Life is chaos; the world is chaos, according to Rajah Banerjee. “The only constant is change. What are we doing here and where are we going? We need to answer these questions to be free, to find our way.”

This is hardly the way one might expect a Darjeeling tea-plantation owner to introduce himself. Banerjee, 70, took over his father’s Makaibari Tea Estate in 1970, creating what has been described as the world’s most expensive tea: It retailed for $1,850 per kilogram in 2014.

I met Banerjee in 2004, having traveled into the foothills of the Himalayas in West Bengal to find the man who was revolutionizing the tea industry and making a profit. He has always been a maverick. He would ride horseback through his plantation, clad in a planter’s uniform, encouraging his workers. When an employee threatened to shoot a guard outside his office, he talked the assailant down….

Read the full article here.

 

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