Lakyrsiew is a tiny garden located in the hills around Shillong, the capital of the state Meghalaya (meaning "home of the clouds") in India’s remote northeast. It's owned by Meghalayan native, Nayantara, and her husband Geert Linnebank.
The garden has been producing tea since 2008 but its historical links to the tea industry goes back to the 1840s when the East India Company first identified the local climate and soil as ideal for cultivating tea. The project was later abandoned due to local tribal rules that prevented outsiders from working on the land.
Almost two centuries later, the Linnebanks discovered these plans and decided to plant tea on Nayantara’s ancestral land. They began planting in 2002 with a simple aim: to make the best possible tea by using highest quality cultivars (without use of chemical pesticides) that best expresses the terroir and character of the land where it's grown.
Meet the Makers
Lakyrsiew is still a family-run affair with Boris, Nayantara's son, now playing a role in the running of the garden with the help of tea expert Nalin.
Workers are all local to Meghalaya and are paid a fair living wage. As a small-scale tea "start-up" Lakyrsiew is unburdened by colonial era practices that tea estates in other states, namely Darjeeling and Assam, are now struggling with. The garden also benefits from rich fertile soil that has not suffered from centuries of rigid plantation agriculture.
The combination of excellent growing conditions and conscientious, meticulous tea making is tea that is striking for its originality and delectability.