Tea Tasting in Kurseong, at Tea Lounge Goodricke Teapot, Margaret’s Deck

My father once told me you can get paid for spitting! Yes, he said me that! I was on the confused threshold of deciding what career to embark on then. Initially I thought he was joking but then he explained how tea tasters taste hundreds of sips of tea in a day. They sip a bit, kind of gargle in mouth and spit it out. Theirs is one of the highly paid jobs in tea industry!

Many decades later, sometime in the middle of second week of February 2017, I witnessed the process of sipping, tasting and spitting. Not only that, I indulged in the whole process, in that same sequence! It did feel great and I wondered why I didn’t think about this job seriously then.

Below is an account of tea tasting in Kurseong at Tea Lounge Margaret’s Deck, Darjleeng district, West Bengal.

Margaret's Deck Kurseong

Goodricke Teapot

Tea Lounge Margaret’s Deck in Kurseong

The Goodricke Teapot, a tea lounge of Goodricke Group Ltd., was inaugurated in Nov 2016. It is nestled over the undulating waves of green tea estate Margaret’s Hope. The lounge is named Margaret’s Deck. Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate is a 150 year old tea estate, fondly remembered as the Bada Rington, which was named Margaret’s Hope in fond memory of the daughter of the then manager of the tea estate in the early 20th century.

I was in Goodricke Teapot Margaret’s Deck with a group of bloggers on an invite to experience ‘THE EXPERIENCE in Margaret’s Deck’ . Visitors at the tea lounge get visual treats of the picturesque Himalayan peaks, gushing streams, swaying orchids while they sip on the choicest selection of teas here. As you enter the hall houses a small reading area with a pleasant display of all information on tea. To the right you will find a counter selling different blends of tea. The deck juts out over the tea gardens. As I walked along the deck I felt I was walking towards the mountains. February winds are pleasantly chill and there at Margaret’s Deck, with a cup of warm tea in hand I felt so content with life!

Margaret's Deck

Imagine yourself standing at edge of that Margaret’s Deck with a cup of tea in hand facing the Himalayas!

The Goodricke Teapot lounge at Margaret’s Deck offers:

Ambiance: Comfortable and Stress Free, enjoy the view of toy trains crossing the steep slopes.
Specialty: Good range of teas hot and iced, pastries, and premium chocolates.
Service: Timely, Polite
Suitable for: Families, child friendly, tourists to Kurseong, Darjleeng, Kalimpong, connoisseurs, blenders and laymen.
Must visit: for those who value quality and experience rich heritage and the culture of tea drinking
Wallet factor: Rs.700 for two.
Location: Margaret’s Deck, Margaret Hope’s Tea Estate, Kurseong, Darjleeng District, West Bengal.

Location Margaret's Deck

Tea Tasting session at Margaret’s Deck, Kurseong

Displayed before us were sets of 5 different kinds of tea. We were not told the names of the 5 varieties kept for tasting. There were the dry tea leaves in first small bowl, the tea itself in a cup and the wet tea leaves with which the tea was made in a small container. Mr. Krishan Katyal, Chairman & Managing Director of J. Thomas & Co. guided us through the session. He first taught us how to take the sip and taste it before we give our verdicts on it.

  1. With a slurrrrp sound you sip the tea (yes, forget all etiquette) till your mouth is semi full with it.
  2. Next let the tea roll inside your mouth. Tongue has taste buds in different parts of it which get different tastes. One must give a little more time to this step so that all tastes can be understood.
  3. Next spit the tea out. Well, you can gulp it… but for a tea taster who has to take 100 such sips will prefer to spit it out rather than fill the belly with tea.

Tea Tasting in Kurseong

Tea Tasting in Kurseong Travel Blogger Manjulika Pramod at tea tasting in Kurseong.

I have always had tea with milk and sugar and that too hot. Now for the first time I was tasting tea in its purest form. One sip in, I let it roll along the sides of tongue, closed my eyes to let my brain concentrate on which taste was dominating. The experience was varied. While one seemed to be fragrant, another had a bitter taste dominating, yet another seemed to me a little burnt unbelievably and one was too astringent.

The names were later told to us. 1 – White Tea, 2- Green Tea, 3 – Second Flush Muscatel Tea, 4 – Assam Orthodox, 5 – Assam CTC (crush, tear, curled)

Goodricke Tea Kurseong


Lessons concluded from tea tasting in Kurseong

  • No two teas are same! Each one is essentially different from the other. Different texture, different flavour, different lingering taste… many more.
  • Sense of touch – the taster feels the tea leaves to check it is not spongy; it has not picked up moisture, its dryness.
  • Sense of smell – Once the taster has felt the leaves she/he checks the aroma. Sometimes nose tells much more ahead what palate will reveal later. An experienced taster can get 75% taste right with smell alone.
  • Brewing (not boiling) is done for 5 minutes for tasting tea while for drinking purpose brewing is done for only 3 minutes.
  • For brewing take 2.5g of dry leaf. Boil 150ml of water, as it comes to state of rapid boiling pour it on the leaves (not the other way round). Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  • It takes 5 minutes for every taste of tea to enhance and get a distinct form.

With practice the above steps will make you a qualified efficient tea taster!

And you know where to go for
different kinds of tea tasting experience while in Kurseong?

Head to Tea Lounge Margaret’s Deck!

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45 Responses to “Tea Tasting in Kurseong, at Tea Lounge Goodricke Teapot, Margaret’s Deck

  • Honestly, I had no clue about this profession of tea tasting and the visit to Margaret’s Deck was an absolute learning experience for me.
    There is so much to know about Darjeeling Tea.
    Moreover, the tea gardens and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways makes Kurseong a beautiful place.
    And I loved meeting you and exploring Kurseong with you.

  • And thank you for putting my picture. That’s me learning to taste and appreciate tea.

  • Thank you Indrani for the wonderful write up and photos of the tea tasting session at Margaret’s deck, Kurseong.

    It was also great meeting you.

  • This sounds like a really unique and fascinating experience. Plus I’m a sucker for mountains so would love this.

  • As an Englishman that loves his tea, this would be a great place fr me to visit! Trying all the different tea would be a great way to spend the day!

  • Would definitely go! I quite like tea and love mountains, so this would be a great fit. Super!

  • I’m a huge tea drinker and I’d love to do a trasting like this. The setting looks gorgeous too!

  • what a fun tasting! I’ve done my fair share of wine tastings, but never done a tea tasting. After having lived in London for the past 3 years, I’ve become much more interested in tea (still drink it every morning) and it would great to do a more complete tea tasting.

  • haha, love it. To get paid to spit! First of all Margaret’s Deck is amazing looking! What a view to overlook the Himalayas. I am not the biggest tea person but while spending a month in India in January I got to explore some and it was interesting to try all the tastes.
    I think the tea experience would be a great one for a person like me to find flavors that I would enjoy.

  • What an art! I can only imagine how good the Darjeeling tea must be. I visited a tea house in New York City that imports all the finest teas. There was no spitting, but it was fascinating to learn about the proper brewing and the herbs that went into creating the tea.

  • I always used to wonder why tea tasters used to sip and then spit out. The entire process looks so fascinating, though have never witnessed these proceedings live, only on TV. Kurseong is really a paradise. Sipping tea while inhaling the fragrant Himalayan air must indeed be an exhilarating experience.

  • I love the story you’ve started with, I feel the same way about wine tasting! I had no idea you had to slurp it to taste it, that is such an interesting little fact, and the brewing times. Thanks for sharing!

  • That’s nice! I love tea, must be delicious, especially in places with real plantations nearby!

  • This is a first story I have read of tea tasting ever! I am fascinated with the art of tasting you have shared! Would love to have a tour of tea tasting someday.

  • I’m not a huge fan of tea but my boyfriend is and he purchased several very good ones while we were in Darjeeling. It is funny to think that someone can make a living out of spitting tea and you finally got to witness what your dad had told you all those years ago!

  • As a tea drinker, I will surely enjoy that tea tasting sessions. This article gives idea on how to property taste tea. Thanks for sharing some lessons. 🙂

  • Interesting experience. Tea is not necessarily my thing, but the ambiance there and the views are something I would definitely enjoy. Sure, I will do the tasting too, especially for the pastries and chocolates. But I enjoyed your “lessons” – something to write down for future tea brewing.

  • Megan Jerrard
    11 months ago

    This sounds like a really interesting tasting experience – I too have only ever drunk tea with milk, so I can imagine it would be an incredible sensation to taste different flavors in their purest form!

  • Megan Jerrard
    11 months ago

    This sounds like a really interesting tasting experience – I too have only ever drunk tea with milk, so I can imagine it would be an incredible sensation to taste different flavors in their purest form!

  • I had no idea tea tasting was an actual profession!! I enjoy the occasional glass of tea, but not sure I could sip 100 different teas! What a cool experience to get to try so many different teas though! May have to give it a go one of these days

  • wow, I don’t know if I’d be able to taste a lot of teas one after another, but this was really a very interesting article. I didn’t know there where so many proceedings to tea tasting!

  • Sipping tea while overlooking the Himalayas sounds so relaxing! The tea tasting process sounds very interesting, I can imagine side by side you can really start to pick up on even the subtle differences between the teas. There are so many details I wouldn’t have thought about when it comes to tasting tea, that is really fascinating that taster feels the tea leaves to check moisture levels.

  • That Margaret’s Deck gives me the shivers! It’s not tea what should be tasted there, but something relaxing or sleep inducing, that deck seems so breakable! Anyway, in the last years I started having tea with nothing in it, except for some sugar if I have it for breakfast. I like macha tea, and lemon scented ones.

  • I would definitely want to go here! I love tea so much. I drink any kind, but my favorite is a British one called Rosie Lee. (It’s made with roses.) I wouldn’t like to spit the tea out though! It would be sad to waste it.

  • I love the whole ambiance….it is set in such a lovely place. I love tea but am not sure if I can taste so many at one shot 😀 Worth a try though.

  • WOW! just look at the location, it is spectacular! but I am not sure if I would be able to taste these many teas back to back! Plus a shocking thing which I finally came to know from this is that Tea testing is actually a profession! Cheers

  • Wow! That’s awesome!!! My mom used to tell me too since I was little about tea tasting profession! Its so cool. I learnt about White Tea sometime back when I was in a tea estate. Hoping to taste it real soon!!!!

  • This looks just like my dreamed place … The surroundings look stunning, and I am just crazy about tea! i am just not so sure about the slurping noise while drinking it (I would feel too much like my grand father 🙂 )

  • I feel like posting about tea is such a great idea because everybody has their own relationship to it! Thanks very much for putting this one together!

  • Ha, I love how you have to slurp it! This looks like such an interesting experience. I absolutely love tea so I’m bookmarking this for the future. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • I never knew there was a tactile par tot tasting tea! So fascinating to read all these details. I am not a big tea drinker, but definitely love the culture and history surrounding it.

  • First off, I love the photo of the deck overlooking the Himalayas. That may be the most beautiful tea tasting location around 🙂 Also, I had no idea that being a tea taster was a thing or how involved it was! It seems like quite a process.

  • I am a huge tea drinker. I have at least 20 different varieties of loose leaf tea in my cupboard right now. This would definitely be an experience that I’d enjoy! Though I’d probably drink it instead of spitting, just as I usually do with wine.

  • As a Brit, I am a certified tea-addict and prior to travelling had always considered it primarily a UK thing. But, the more places I visit, it is clear that there are so many different tea cultures and evidently India is no different. I, like you, had always taken it with milk and sugar and it really would be great to try it in its purest form and see how much of a connoisseur I really am! Very enjoyable post

  • This is like a complete guide about tea tasting! Seriously, I had no idea it involves spitting as well. I thought the tea testers always take a couple of sips inside like drinking tea. Nice to know about the whole process, including the quantity, brewing temperature and other details.

  • I had only recently heard about tea tasting. Would love to give this a shot. Darjeeling sounds like an ideal place for it.

  • Fantastic and such an interesting post 🙂 I’m totally crazy about the tea! Tasting sessions are really enjoyable, I had several in India and Sri Lanka, what a fantastic experience 🙂 I would love to see Darjeeling.

  • I am not a tea person. But it was interesting to read about a tea tasting experience. I never knew before this that you could get paid for spitting. I would definitely would love to try this out at Margaret’s deck one day.

  • Wow, what a mindblowing location! I even love the logo. The setting reminds me of the house in Charlie Chaplin’s Gold Rush. As a tea lover it is a must!

  • Tea gardens are always been special for me as I was born in one of the largest Tea producing states in India. Being from Assam , I can connect to each and everything you have mentioned in the article. From Tea testing , collecting raw leaves , knowing the names and seeing the process , I have seen it many times in my childhood. Great to know that you enjoyed the whole experience.

  • This reminds me of Boh Plantation in Cameron Highland, Malaysia. They have a similar concept like Margaret’s deck ..where you can sit, sip and soak in the beauty. To be honest never heard about a spitting job 😉

  • Getting paid for spitting?! What a great opening sentence, hahaha. I can’t believe that as a lover of tea, I’ve never done a tea tasting! Margaret’s Deck in Kurseong looks so lovely! Thank you for sharing your experience, I am bookmarking this for the future.

  • This is totally up my alley because I’m a huge fan of tea. Any kind! Even sweet iced tea 😉 What a fun travel experience. I’m a chef so foodie experiences are so important for me during my travels. Thanks for sharing!

  • I have heard of this job, but had never read a story about them…it was certainly a fascinating read. The fact that this was in Bengal, makes it even more special 🙂

  • Good information. Will brew tea this way.

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