History of Tea in India

The cultivation and brewing of tea in India has a long history of applications in traditional systems of medicine and for consumption. However, commercial production of tea in India did not begin until the arrival of the British East India Company, at which point large tracts of land were converted for mass tea production.

Today, India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, though over 70% of the tea is consumed within India itself. A number of renowned teas, such as Darjeeling, also grow exclusively in India.

The Indian tea industry has grown to own many global tea brands, and has evolved to one of the most technologically equipped tea industries in the world. Tea production, certification, exportation, and all other facets of the tea trade in India is controlled by the Tea Board of India.

The Birth of Chabua

In the early 1820 the British found Chabua, Assam as the first place to cultivate tea. After an extensive research on the geographical and climatic condition around the country , they finally zeroed in on Chabua to be the best suitable cultivation land based on the mathematics of tea growing.

In the 1823, the British East India Company began large-scale plantation of tea in Assam, India of a tea variety traditionally brewed by the Singpho tribe. In 1826, the British East India Company took over the region from the Ahom kings through the Yandaboo Treaty.

In 1837, the first English Tea Garden was established at Chabua in Upper Assam, in 1840, the Assam Tea Company began the commercial production of tea in the region, run by indentured servitude of the local inhabitants.

Beginning in the 1850s, the tea industry rapidly expanded, consuming vast tracts of land for tea plantations. By the turn of the century, Assam became the leading tea producing region in the world. In the mid 1820’s first shipment from Boston came to India. It was a trade affair which who knew would later turn into a massive National Beverage consumed in every household.

Robert Bruce, an official of the British empire, who is credited with the discovery of tea in Assam in 1823, gave publicity of the existence of the plant, the leaves of which were boiled to prepare the tea. This lead to identification of land which was suitable for tea cultivation. They found the North-East river Delta region to be fit for Tea cultivation.

In the mid 1820’s the first shipment of Tea from Assam went to London. Here the tea produced in India was consumed by the Elite Class in Britain. Tea was not available to the masses in a long time. Tea was associated with the higher class and there was a new trend called the ” High Tea Party” that started with tea consumption.

Later on tea was available to the masses in the public grounds as a hot beverage to ward of the cold weather. The cultivated Tea gardens in the north of India were looked after well during the British Raj. When the British had to wind up their business in India , the Tea gardens were gifted to the Royal Families in India as a token of Gift. The Royal Families were honoured with the Tea gardens. It was now up to them to take care of the Tea gardens and do what they deemed appropriate.