I arrive in the heat of the afternoon sun and am met at Bagdogra airport by a real Indian tea lady - Neha Lochan owner of Doke Tea and daughter of Rajiv Lochan of Lochan Tea.
Their driver picks us up and I discover It's quite common to have a driver. I'm beginning to realise why. Although less chaotic then Delhi there are still no rules on this dusty road to Silliguri, a busy bustling affair. A little less congested with motorised traffic but other less familiar obstacles, well at least less familiar on an English road, seem more common. As we honk our way past, various vehicles, rickshaws, goats and cows. I learn that the stray cows which often stand or lie in the middle of the road, aren't strays at all. They belong to local farmers and actually find their way back home after a day grazing and roaming the streets. As we head on into Silliguri I catch my first glimpse of tea growing on the low flat plans. This is referred to as CTC tea (Cut Tear Curl) or tea bag tea.
Rajiv is most welcoming and his son Vivek soon joins us. Everyone makes me feel right at home as I sip and savour my first cup of real Darjeeling tea and Noodle joins me!