It was the second of November, and our destination Habiganj is about a two-hour drive from Sylhet city centre. Our agenda was to visit a tea factory, specifically the Ispahani Mirzapore tea factory. The manager of the Mirzapore tea garden is a friend of a friend, so we had special privileges.
The three of us, my father, mother, and I, were escorted by a pick-up truck from Bahubali (where we were staying at a hotel) to the Ispahani Tea Estate. Along the way to the manager's bungalow was around 2,500 acres of tea, being picked by workers. These women get a salary and an additional amount based on how many kilograms they each can harvest. Most of the field workers in the tea garden, as in other tea gardens in Bangladesh, are women, who, to protect themselves from the sun, wear local versions of a sombrero.
So we arrived at the manager's bungalow and was greeted with two treats; the first, a table full of food items and secondly, a very interesting tea auctioneer buyer, who explained to us in detail how tea auctioning takes place. So, a tea company sells their many varieties of tea to local and international buyers, all through the auctioning process. After a stomach full of goodies, we were on our way to the tea factory.
The tea factory was about a 10-minute drive from the manager's bungalow. The factory was enormous, and running on 1/3 the total capacity. Essentially, it is one big machine. The process starts with workers placing the raw leaves onto a conveyor belt, which then dries the tea, grinds it, and then ready for packaging. This is the stage where enchanting flavours of the tea can be smelled and tasted.
The factory was very clean and well kept. Next, we got to see the manager do a taste test of five different varieties of tea that Ispahani Mirzapore produces. Much of this factory's tea ends up in supermarket shelves under the Ispahani Mirzapore brand, and others end up in the export market. If you are a tea drinker, you probably know the beautiful aroma of the Ispahani tea. If you are not a tea drinker, try it once, and you won't be disappointed.