I am blessed to have been able to see and smell tea flowers during our recent time in Bangladesh. Wonderful tea gardens themselves aren’t unfamiliar to me; on each visit to Bangladesh over the more recent years we’ve roamed in them often enough, but seeing many of their flowers is actually unusual – at least in the wintertime when we go.
Lucky, when we visited Naraincherra tea garden this time, I soon found that the peaceful garden was quite generously punctuated with camellia blooms of antique cream centred with egg-yolk coloured pollen – hues that make this blossom seem a classic flower of life. Naraincherra is a wonderful garden; it seems funny to have to call it a ‘garden’ in the first place, as it was incomprehensibly vast, as peaceful as infinity, and the arrangement of the tea plants reminded me of surreal, stonehenge-size beehives. In the primitive mists of the tropical late afternoon, with the distant, monkey-like bird-call and various chirping and hissing insects mysteriously tucked away at every range, the atmosphere was utterly prehistoric.
The aroma of fresh tea leaves, I feel, isn’t really similar to green tea. It’s a soft, bright scent that reminds me of star-fruits and summer grass, but it seems it doesn’t take on that antiquity and enchantment in quality before the leaves are dried. The interesting thing though is that the demure, somewhat mysterious, and very vintage looking flowers smell just like green tea – perhaps more delicate, but ultimately fresher. Their essence has the same timeless yet unfailingly refreshing, addictive quality – wholesome but really quite dark, like an ancient forest from whose depths are born the substances for wild dreams and miraculous medicines.