We love to enjoy a warm cup of tea, but how many times do we pay attention to where they come from? Chances are... not very often. Tea is grown around the world, however if China have the biggest tea production in the world, India isn’t far behind!
When did tea production start in India
Tea production in India was introduced under British Rule, when a native variety of plant was discovered in the state of Assam by a Scottish traveller Robert Bruce.
Bruce worked with a local merchant who was called Maniram Dewan, looking at the way that the local Singpho tribe cultivated and enjoyed these wild plants. The tribe would remove the leaves from the plant, before allowing them to dry in the sun, as well as being exposed by the night dew for 3 days. They would then place the dried leaves inside a hollowed out bamboo tube and develop the flavour using a smoking process.
Bruce realised that these local plants could be the ideal alternative to the Chinese production, and set about transferring the process used by the local tribe, transforming it into a more commercial process. With his efforts, the first British led commercial tea plantation became established in the Assam region during 1837.
The rise of the tea industry
It didn’t take long for the tea industry in India to take off. In fact, the industry took shape in 1840. This saw the introduction of Chinary tea plants to the more elevated regions of India, such as Darjeeling and Kangra. These tea plants hadn’t been able to flourish in the Assam region, but it seemed that they really took root in these regions, growing healthily.
From 1841 onwards more and more people in the area tried to grow their own tea plants, with even the first superintendent of Darjeeling planting some for himself. It was during 1847 that the first official tea plant nursery was established in Darjeeling and 3 years later, in 1850, the first commercial plantation, the Tukvar Tea Estate was created.
The production of tea in India and China have both flourished since this time and recognising the benefits of both local varieties of tea, there have even been attempts to create hybrids between the two types. These are grown in the low-lying tea regions of India and enjoyed throughout the world.
So, now when you sit down to enjoy a steaming hot cup of tea, why not spare a thought for where it came from, and the process that has gone into creating that delicious mug?