The Makaibari Tea Estate, located in the Kurseong region of Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal, has a rich and storied history. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious tea estates in India, renowned for producing high-quality Darjeeling tea.
The estate was established in 1859 by a British tea planter named Girish Chandra Banerjee. The land was initially used for growing maize (hence the name "Makaibari," which means "cornfield" in Hindi), but Banerjee recognized the potential for tea cultivation in the region. He began planting tea bushes on the slopes of the Kurseong hills and set the foundation for what would become an iconic tea estate.
Makaibari Tea Estate played a significant role in the development of the Darjeeling tea industry. In the late 19th century, it served as a model for other tea gardens in the area, and its success inspired the expansion of tea cultivation in Darjeeling. The estate was also instrumental in establishing the Darjeeling Tea Association in 1891, which aimed to protect the integrity and quality of Darjeeling tea.
Over the years, Makaibari Tea Estate passed through several owners. In the 20th century, it came under the ownership of the Banerjee family, who continued to maintain its legacy and uphold its reputation for producing premium tea. The estate gained recognition for its sustainable and organic farming practices, becoming the first certified organic tea garden in India in 1988.
Under the leadership of Rajah Banerjee, the estate underwent further innovations and introduced biodynamic practices to promote ecological balance and harmony. Makaibari Tea Estate became known not just for its tea but also for its commitment to environmental conservation and social welfare initiatives.
Today, Makaibari Tea Estate remains a revered name in the world of tea. Its teas are sought after for their distinct flavor profiles and are enjoyed by tea connoisseurs globally. The estate continues to embrace sustainable practices and community development, reflecting the enduring legacy of its founder and the tea-making traditions of the Darjeeling region.
In 2014, Makaibari tea estate owner Rajah Banerjee sold off almost a 90% stake of his ownership to Luxmi Group. The deal, valued in excess of Rs 20 crore (over 200 million dollars), and termed a "strategic partnership" by the parties, ended the story of the only family-owned garden that had survived the tribulations of time in the Hills. Banerjee's great-grandfather Girish Chandra had founded the estate and set up the world's first tea factory in 1859.
The Luxmi Group produces tea in copious amounts at other estates over Assam, Tripura Dooars, and Terai.
Enjoy your time with tea!