Assam's Secrets: A Journey to Margherita, Coin Tea and The Singphos

Assam's Secrets: A Journey to Margherita, Coin Tea and The Singphos

Assam, a treasure trove of tea culture and heritage, offers a glimpse into the lives of the Singpho tribe, a community deeply intertwined with the history and cultivation of tea. Margherita, a small town in Assam, holds a rich tapestry of traditions and stories, and it is here that the intricate narrative of the Singphos and their unique "coin tea" unfolds. Join us on a journey through the verdant landscapes of Assam as we delve into the captivating narrative of Margherita and the Singpho tribe's enduring connection to tea.



Unveiling Margherita: A Town Steeped in Tea Tradition

As we embark on our exploration of Margherita, we are greeted with a tapestry of lush tea gardens that define the landscape. The town, named in honor of a 19th-century Italian queen by an Italian engineer overseeing the construction of the rail section, is a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Here, amid the serene beauty of the Singpho Eco Village, we are immersed in the captivating world of the Singpho tribe and their remarkable relationship with tea.



The Singpho Tribe: Guardians of Tea Tradition

The Singphos, an indigenous community of Assam, have been instrumental in shaping the tea culture of the region. Renowned for their deep-rooted connection to the land and its bounty, the Singpho tribe has been the custodian of traditional tea growing practices, sustainability, and a collective way of life. Their unwavering commitment to preserving their cultural heritage has sparked a resurgence of traditional tea cultivation and organic agriculture, breathing new life into the ancient art of tea production.



Coin Tea: Unraveling a Timeless Tradition

At the heart of the Singpho tea culture lies the enigmatic "coin tea," a unique and revered tradition that has been passed down through generations. The art of preparing coin tea involves a meticulous process, beginning with the plucking of tea leaves from wild tree bushes in the backyard of the Singpho households. These tall tea bushes, unlike any seen before, yield leaves that are carefully harvested and processed to create the distinctive coin tea.

The journey of coin tea continues with the slow roasting of the leaves and their methodical sun-drying. Once dried, the leaves are crushed and filled into bamboo hollows, where they are gently smoked over a fire for as long as two months. The culmination of this meticulous process results in small dices, the size of a coin, that are used to brew a cup of tea. The flavor of coin tea is a revelation, offering a smoky, earthy profile with hints of honey and caramel, a testament to the unique artistry and expertise of the Singpho tribe.



Singpho Cuisine: A Gastronomic Odyssey

In our exploration of Margherita and the Singpho community, we were captivated not only by the art of tea but also by the culinary traditions that define Singpho cuisine. The culinary landscape of the Singphos is a celebration of nature's bounty, with a focus on seasonality, minimal spice usage, and the harmonious integration of locally foraged herbs and flavors. The slow, wood fire cooking imparts a distinctive flavor to their dishes, creating a culinary experience that is a testament to the community's close connection to nature and tradition.



The Singpho Way of Life: A Tapestry of Resilience and Tradition

Beyond the realms of tea and cuisine, the Singpho community is a testament to resilience and determination. Despite encountering economic exploitation, the Singphos have rallied to rebuild their community, embracing the ethos of collective living and sustainability. Their commitment to preserving their unique way of life, steeped in tradition and cultural richness, serves as an inspiration and a testament to the enduring spirit of the Singpho tribe.



A Reverence for Tradition: Honoring the Singphos and Coin Tea

As we reflect on our Assam diaries, the chapter on Margherita and the Singpho tribe stands as a testament to the profound influence of the community on the rich tapestry of tea culture. The art of coin tea, the culinary odyssey of Singpho cuisine, and the resilient spirit of the Singpho community converge to form an indelible narrative that celebrates tradition, heritage, and the enduring legacy of the Singpho tribe.

In honoring the Singphos and their timeless traditions, we are reminded of the remarkable interplay between culture and nature, and the enduring legacy of communities deeply rooted in the land that sustains them.

As we bid farewell to the captivating landscapes of Margherita and the stories of the Singpho tribe, we carry with us a profound appreciation for the resilience, artistry, and traditions that define the heart of Assam's tea culture.