Tea is a special beverage consumed largely in India after water. It is a sweet addiction in India. We Indians call tea as “Chai” & people love the aroma of Chai. It is popularly known as the ‘beverage of Indians’. Tea production in India was started by Britishers and since then, India is a leading tea producer in the world.
Tea Cultivation in India
India is considered the second-largest producer of tea in the world. Approximately 70% of tea harvesting is for consumption & rest 30% of tea is exported. Tea Board of India is entirely responsible for looking over the production process, certifying as well as exporting the Tea. Major tea-producing states in India are Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal & many northeast states.
There are several types of tea estates in different states such as Glenburn Tea Estate, Darjeeling which has 1,600 acres of tea farms where there are several categories of tea grown such as Rose Suite, Camelia Suite, Rungeet Suite, Rung Dung Suite, etc. Nilgiri Tea Plantations in South India is prominent for producing dark as well as an aromatic tea.
Tea has been grown for almost more than 100 years. Banyan Grove on Gatoonga Tea Estate in Assam is an enormous green land where tea is grown, Nilgiri Tea Plantations in South India produces finest tea & Happy Valley Tea Estate in Darjeeling also produces exotic ranges of Tea with finest aroma & taste.
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Assam State of India is considered as the largest producer of tea in India. India is one of the major producing tea centers right after China. India has a record of producing almost 1234 million kilograms of tea as per records of 2015 & 2016.
West Bengal holds the second position in producing tea with almost 329.70 million kilograms of tea production that is equal to 26% of national tea production, Tamil Nadu is third with almost 161.49 million kilograms of tea. Kerala is the fourth state with almost 57 million kilograms of tea in the year 2015 & 2016.
History of Tea Cultivation
There is a long history of tea in India. According to Indian mythology, tea was firstly used in the Ramayana, the Holy Scripture between 750 & 500 BC. After the British East India Company entered our country in the 1850s, everything was changed. A large piece of land got converted into tea farms and tea exports began on a large scale.
Tea was discovered accidentally in China when one day, the Chinese emperor was boiling some water and few leaves of tea fell into that. When he drank it, he found it tasty and energetic and he asked his peoples to try out the tea and this led to the discovery of tea in China. Initially, the concept of growing tea remained unknown to the world until a British spy named Robert Fortune managed to bring some seeds, tea plants, and labourers from China to Assam.
Robert Fortune in September 1848, was sent to China by the East India Company in the disguise of a Chinese man to steal the secret of tea from China which was successfully kept as a secret for centuries. For this purpose, he was paid 500 pounds annually.
First Tea Cultivation in India
After spending some days in China, Robert realised that bringing a few plants to India will not work. He has to bring seeds, plants and also some Chinese workers who knew the art of growing tea to India. East India Company just not needed tea plants but the best quality tea.
After living there and exploring thousands of tea plantations and carefully observing the processes involved in tea production, Robert finally succeeded in his dangerous mission which could have resulted in his death. But his attempt failed because, in the hot & humid climate of Assam, the Chinese tea plants got dried up as they needed cold environmental conditions. After the failure of this plan, the tea was accidentally discovered when a similar tea looking plant was discovered in the valleys of Assam. This gave new hope to the East India Company.
The Assam tea was discovered by Robert Bruce, a Scottish adventurer. He noticed many tea plants near Rangpur in 1823 when he was on a trade mission. Bessa Gam who was a local civilian helped Robert Bruce as he had a plan to make certain tea estates. So he sent the tea sample to Calcutta for examining the same.
After much research, it was discovered that these leaves were a breed of the Chinese tea plant. This plant was lately named as Assamica tea plants. The techniques that were brought from China worked this time and tea production was started in India. A huge part of Assam was brought under tea cultivation.
First Tea Company in India
The first tea company was started in Assam known as Assam Tea Company in the year 1839. The same company was expanded with more than 160 gardens. 5 gardens are owned by public companies & 57 were owned by private players. The Britishers brought a new trend in the recipe of tea. Traditionally in China, tea leaves were boiled in water, but Britishers started adding sugar and milk to it and it soon became a popular beverage in the world. This was the history of starting of tea growth in Assam and in India.
Future of Tea Cultivation
There is a huge scope for tea cultivation in India. India’s future in tea cultivation is extremely bright. India can cultivate the maximum amount of tea & export the same to earn major Foreign Income. Tea Exports of India is enormous & our country can still grow in tea manufacturing by opening Tea producing companies.
The tea cultivated in India are renowned & have many flavours. Certain types of tea varieties are a whole leaf, fannings, broken leaf, and dust. The English breakfast, as well as Irish breakfast, includes tea blends that are made up of Indian black tea. Tea cultivation in India is a major source of foreign exchange & it can generate more profits if proper steps are taken to expand tea cultivation and exports to the world market.