Tom Vater

Tom Vater

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

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From the Archives: Tom Vater’s Tea Total in Darjeeling republished in Traversing the Orient Magazine


“Life is chaos, the world is chaos. The only constant is change. I like chaos and the way you position yourself in it. Where do we come from? What are we doing here and where are we going? We need to answer these questions to be free, to find our way. That’s what I’m doing in my tea garden.”

Not the sort of introduction one would expect from a tea plan­tation owner in the Darjeeling hills. But then, Rajah Baner­jee is not an ordinary man. He is the owner of the most highly prized tea plantation in the world. Makaibari Tea Estates in Darjeeling have developed sustainable, biodynamic agriculture at high returns. Rajah Banerjee, the enigmatic fourth heir to the estate, sells the world’s most expensive tealeaves. His main clients in the US, Japan, France and Germany buy up his entire harvest – before it is harvested.

Read Tom Vater’s feature story on The World’s Most Expensive Tea, republished in Traversing the Orient Magazine in April 2009. Originally published in The Far Eastern Economic Review. Also published in Lifestyle + Travel, The SE Asia Globe, Untamed Travel and several other publications. Photos by Aroon Thaewchatturat.

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