I say, let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea

I say, let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea

adventure travel & photography

Destinations: Pakistan ◦◦ India ◦◦Turkey ◦◦ Egypt ◦◦ Bulgaria ◦◦ Mongolia ◦◦ Bangladesh ◦◦ Jordan ◦◦ Russia ◦◦ Turkmenistan ◦◦ Iran ◦◦ Kazakhstan ◦◦ Japan ◦◦ Hong Kong ◦◦ Greece ◦◦ Ukraine ◦◦ Syria ◦◦ Morocco ◦◦ Italy

Type: Photo stories ◦◦ Places ◦◦ Documentary ◦◦ Black and White ◦◦ Fine Art Prints ◦◦ Seascapes ◦◦ Urban

The story

The title is a quotation from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel "Notes from Underground". No doubt, millions of people on Earth would agree with these words.

Sreemangal is nicknamed the "Tea Capital of Bangladesh" due to the numerous tea gardens in the region and the place of origin of the seven-colour tea. Located about 190 km from Dhaka, Sreemangal is known as the centre of tea production in Bangladesh. This hilly region is very picturesque, with many tea, pineapple, and rubber plantations. The best time to explore is early in the morning, when the fog has not yet lifted and the gardens are still shrouded in a mystical light.

I met my guide in Sreemangal. He took care of me for the following weeks until I left Bangladesh. We got to know each other over a meal of rice and a spicy curry at a local restaurant. Over dinner, we created an action plan for the first few days. We planned visits to tea plantations, villages where tea workers live, and villages where local tribes reside - not all tribes are involved in the tea industry. We also planned trips to a region near the Indian border, Lake Madhabpur, and some other interesting places.

We later chatted about the production of tea, during which I learned the following:

Plucking season for tea leaves lasts 8 months. Mainly women workers start their day early and work until late at night, picking the small buds and first two or three young leaves from the tea bush. They work tirelessly, seven days a week.

image

Appraisal, weighing and transportation

During a workday, the tea-picking women typically fill several large sacks, designed to hold between 20 and 30 kg. At certain times, they deliver their bundles to a company representative, who inspects and weighs the leaves, recording the data in a notebook. Afterwards, the bundles are loaded onto trucks and transported to the processing plants.

image

Processing in the factory - here the tea leaves are selected, dried, oxygenated, and otherwise treated. Generally, about 22 to 25 kg of processed tea is obtained from 100 kg of fresh leaves.

I wanted to visit a processing factory, but was told that I could watch but not take photos. It was unclear whether this was for reasons of professional or trade secrecy, or to avoid problems related to working conditions in these factories. I suspect that both may be true.

Approximately 41,000 hectares of tea plantations produce large quantities of the highest quality tea in the world. The Bangladesh Tea Research Institute in Sreemangal has made significant contributions to the development and standardisation of tea quality, benefiting the Bangladesh tea industry. Half of the produced tea is consumed domestically, while the other half is exported abroad.

Workers in the tea industry are poorly paid, with around 300,000 of them, 75% of whom are women. The long workday and meager US$0.50 per day condemn these women to a life of hardship. This money is often not enough to buy a cup of tea. Some employers claim that homeless workers are housed in purpose-built villages, have access to schools, and receive medical care. However, half a dollar a day is still very little. Despite their circumstances, these women remain cheerful, joking and chatting with one another.

image

A photo gallery

Tea plantations around Sreemangal, Bangladesh

Digital downloads and prints available

Tours and expeditions

My program and itinerary in Bangladesh resulted from my month-long trip around the country. I have selected some of the most exciting places that will reveal to you the authentic beauty of this country. Bangladesh has almost no landmarks or monuments of global or even local scale. However, the whole country is one significant landmark. People travel to Bangladesh for the authenticity that still exists in most parts of the country. My tour in Bangladesh for a small group of 7/8 people

Books