Mr Manas Banerjee, the husband of our member, Ms Bharati Banerjee, shares his love for the tea leaf and his experience of working in tea gardens, with Mousumi Gupta.
Mr Banerjee pursued his passion for plants from the world-renowned Tocklai Tea Research Institute in Jorhat, Assam. He then worked with several tea gardens as an expert to check the health of tea plants.
Age is hardly a factor for Mr Banerjee, who is almost touching 80. The enthusiastic gentleman thinks that everyone has to be active in whatever way they can, be it working or listening to music or simply reading books. He visits different tea estates in the Northeast regularly to check the health of this plantation crop.
In Mr Banerjee’s eyes, the growth of a tea bush is very similar to that of a human being. Asked about the longevity of a tea plant, he said: “It also resembles that of a human. As we can keep ourselves majorly active till 60, and after that work productivity dips, tea plants also follow a similar pattern. One has to take real care about the plantation, as it needs extreme care in terms of soil, water and the drainage system apart from the processing of buds into tea leaves. Like human beings, tea saplings stay in the nursery till they attain 10 to 12 months of age or 18 inches in height before being transplanted to the actual site.”
“The pH value of the soil has to be between 4.5 and 4.7. Anything more than that would increase the aluminum content in tea, which makes it harmful for humans. Tea plants are self-sterile and have to be cross-pollinated.”
Asked about the height of a tea plant, he said: “It depends on the height of the tea plucker so that it becomes easy for her to pluck. So, in India, the height is nearly 40 inches but in Africa, it is much taller.”
“Tea pluckers all across the world are majorly women,” he said, and it is only because women pluck buds and leaves with motherly care, which is very important for further growth.
Mr Banerjee gave insights into the benefits of tea. For example, it reduces anxiety. “In this stressful world, people, instead of taking medicines, try to search for some cure from natural sources. Tea, particularly varieties like green and chamomile, actually reduces anxiety. It has some other medicinal values. It treats constipation, nausea, cures cough and helps keep fever at bay.”
Mr Banerjee’s lifelong love for this magical green leaf, which holds a major part of India’s export, shows in his eyes as he speaks about his experience with tea.
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