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Assam, Darjeeling, Dooars, Nilgiris are the name of the major regions in India where tea plantation thrives & teas are named after the region they come from. We trace the history in brief of the development of the plantation crop in the regions and pay a tribute to the pioneering effort of individuals and communities.
ASSAM TEA :
Cultivation of tea in India, popularly known as Chai started in 1833, where the industry arose primarily to produce & trade tea for the British East India Company.
In 1776, Sir Joseph Banks, renowned English Botanist, recommended to undertake the cultivation of tea in India. In 1780, Robert Kyd experimented with tea cultivation in India with seeds, the consignment of which was stated to have arrived from China but not with success.
In 1823. Robert Bruce, a Scottish , visited Rangpur, in Upper Assam. He met the chief of the Singhpo tribe of the north-east, in connection with a variety of tea they grew unknown to the world. but unfortunately his death in 1824 cut short the progress.
A decade later, his younger brother, Charles Alexander Bruce took the initiative and with great difficulty was able to get the first approval of acceptable good quality from the viceroy, Lord Auckland in 1836.
In 1837, Bruce dispatched the first consignment of of tea. This historic consignment was auctioned in London on 10 January 1839 and generated great excitement.
In 1839 Bengal Tea Company was formed in Calcutta, and a joint stock company was formed in London to purchase theEast India Company's plantations and establish tea estates in Assam. The two companies merged to form Assam Company.
In May 1855, indigenous tea bushes were first discovered in Cachar district of Assam.
In 1859 tea cultivation spread to Tripura, Sylhet, and Chittagong, Jorehaut Tea Company followed in the footsteps of Assam Company and was incorporated on 29 June 1859.
By 1859 there were nearly 50 tea gardens in Assam. By 1862 there were 160 gardens.
During this period plantations in Kumaon, Kangra, Kullu and Garhwal on an experimental basis also made a beginning. In 1881, the Indian Tea Association was founded to represent north Indian planters.
In 1841 Chinese tea seeds were brought by Dr A. Campbell and planted them in his garden in Darjeeling town In 1852 Commercial cultivation began. By 1874, there were 113 tea gardens in Darjeeling district alone.
In 1862 inspired planters tried out tea cultivation in the Terai region. James white set up the first Terai plantationcalled Champta. Planting was then extended to the Dooars. Gazeldubi was the first Dooars garden, and by 1876 the area boasted 13 plantations. 1877 the British to set up the Dooars Tea Planters' Association.
In 1854 Mann was the first planter to manufacture Nilgiri teas. He started a tea plantation Coonoor Tea Estate. Around this time, another planter, Rae, set up Dunsandle Estate near.
In 1859, other planters in the Nilgiris began to follow suit In 1882. James Finlay & Co. was the first to attempt tea cultivation in the high ranges of tea.
Especially Munnar, now home to the highest teas grown in the world. The specific geographical conditions and the height of the plantations make the tea unique. In 1893 the United Planters' Association of Southern India was set up to represent those in the south.
The history of tea in India is a glorious record of continuous development of one of our foremost industries and a valuable national asset.
Sanjiva Reddy former President of India 1977-82