Urlong tea makers

Cultivating dream in Mawlyngot, Meghalaya

There was a time when Mawlyngot, a tiny village in the off-shores of Shillong was suffering from poverty, they were disconnected from the real world and little did they know how to earn a living. People were frustrated and helpless, but their hunt didn’t stop to find a way of existence, and they began cultivating their fields. Later, they discovered that the tea they’re producing is rich in quality and if they sell it to the world they can make good money out of it. The dream turned into a reality–best quality tea producers in India–Urlong Tea Integrated Village Co-operative Society Limited.

The first person I saw on the Urlong tea commercial site was a farmer who was clad in as a typical Khasi tribal with a turban on the head. He couldn’t get my language neither could I. So he called Eva who lived nearby, I didn’t know she manages all this until meeting her. A woman in her late 20s, with a little girl in arms, proudly introduces herself as the assistant officer at the Urlong tea company. After a small introduction, we proceeded to the classroom – can you believe? A tiny area where a bunch of 20 farmers are trained to produce the high quality tea in Mawlyngot. The idea of introducing this concept came after the tea production began, to make the farmers more skilled and efficient in their work.

Then I saw all the products that are manufactured there, green tea, white tea (trivia: good for skin and hairfall), muleit powder(take in morning like cornflakes), garlic powder, turmeric, syrups for diarrhea and cough and the organic fertilizers. Their products are mostly sold online. Though they set the requirements beforehand, like last year they estimated 200kgs of tea production and this year they estimated it to be 250kgs.

Tea plantation takes place in the nearby fields which are easily visible from their office, by local farmers, from Monday to Friday, weekend is a time to rest, which they totally deserve. Nevertheless, they are high-skilled employees and work really hard.

Indeed, everyone is highly professional. Then we walked into the packaging section where they put the labels on products, she also added that a specially-abled person is allotted to do one of the packaging job here.

All this was at the first floor, the ground floor is dedicated to the manufacturing, that had mixers, dryers, fermentation machines and a lot more with each kind of tea going through different procedure, for instance, a local dryer is used to soak the white tea leaves whereas the electronic dryer is used for the other teas. Also discussed about the season when they produce each kind of tea – Green tea is manufactured from June to November, White tea from December to March and Black tea from March till the start of June. After she told me that the age of the tea can be over 100 years, I couldn’t help but laugh as I was totally amazed at my ignorance even though I call myself a ‘chai lover’ and seeing this even she couldn’t resist her smile.

They didn’t have a license to manufacture the Black tea in-house, though they have applied for the license and are eagerly waiting for the license to clear, so that they can pack and sell the black tea as well.

Schools and other educational organisations are involved in paying regular visit to the farms and company. Apart from that anyone can pay a visit to this place in daytime and learn about how the tea is planted, fermented and manufactured.

Eva’s dedication towards her work and family was tremendous. I could not forget when she was consoling her child, Ha i la hun and guiding me about the place at the same time.

The route to Mawlyngot is a bit different–low grasslands with a lot of shepherds and tea gardens, kids taking luggage on a wooden carriage and a lot of Pork selling shops near Jhongsa village. You can reach Smit by cab or bus from Bada bazaar(₹40 & ₹10 respectively) and then take taxi from Smit to Mawlyngot for ₹200. It will be great if you take a two-way cab as no sharing cabs or buses are available on that route all day long and only a few buses are available from 5pm – 7pm fom Smit to Mawlyngot and back. There is a great guest house in Mawlyngot, if you want a halt during the visit. The Khasi drivers here are not fluent in English and Hindi, so be patient with them.

Their way to adapt technology and professionalism has added a lot of brand values. Their goals seem so high, that they will definitely achieve new heights. They are a true inspiration for all of us. Adding to that, one of the gratified farmer told me, ‘Our tea is sold online for Rs. 1000 per kg, why should we worry?‘.

While you’re appreciating their hard work, don’t forget to buy tea, powder or medicines as a souvenir for your friends back home.

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The Travellist

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