You can literally taste the history in a cup of Hunwals exceptionally produced tea. The Estate, located on the south bank of the Brahmaputra River in upper Assam saw its fair share of events during the last century. Many of these occurred immediately before, during, and after WWII. King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth and Governor of India from 1936-47, (Governor of India was an old colonial title) stayed on the Estate during a visit just before the war. Estate rumor still maintains that the king preferred a F.B.O.P (Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe) tea brewed strong, with a dash of milk and a small spoon of sugar. Unfortunately, the leisurely pace of the George's visit would be entirely turned upside down once the war began in earnest.
The fact that Assam bordered Burma placed it in the unfortunate position as a potential target by the Japanese Imperial army (Burma had been a British colony but was conquered by the Japanese.) Large garrisons of British soldiers were subsequently stationed in the area in order to repel a possible invasion, which luckily did not materialize. The soldiers made their mark on the region in the form of the Ledo Road, a supply road constructed to link Assam to Kunming China. The road was built to allow Western allies to supply China in its war against Japan after the Japanese took the older Burma Road. Remnants of the Ledo Road, such as bridges and road dividers can still be seen when driving in the vicinity of Hunwal Estate. Later on in history, China launched an attempt invasion of India via the Assam valley in 1963. Luckily for India, pressure from the world community at large caused the Chinese to cancel the invasion after only one day.
Throughout it all, tea planters and pluckers grew and produced quality black teas. History is visibly evident everywhere you look on a visit to the Estate today. At the foot of every tea patch is a sign post indicating the date it was planted. Looking at the dates and thinking about what happened over the years is an amazing experience that stays with you as you taste the day's production from various sections of the estate.
Hunwal's reputation for producing Orthodox teas is as rich as its heritage. Metropolitan Tea is fortunate to have a continued and secure supply of top seasonal FBOP and GBOP varieties. What's the difference between the two? FBOP is a tippier version of GBOP (Golden Broken Orange Pekoe) and therefore slightly milder in the cup. The tea produces a delicately astringent liquor with flavorful layers of malt. These characteristics make Hunwal FBOP excellent on its own or with a dash of milk. Raise a cup to the past!