Tea Gardens of Assam -
Wonders of Incredible India
Tea, the miracle drink
originated in China and was declared a health drink 5000 years back,
by Chinese Emperor, Chen Nungmore. While boiling water below a Tea
tree, a leaf fell into his pot and the king found the drink
refreshing. Chinese believe it to be Divine Healer.
Tea has been known to the tribes of Assam for a long time, who are of
the oriental stock and took Tea as a health drink. Local Tribal Singpho chief, Bisa Gaum helped C A Bruce in 1823, to discover Assam
variety of Tea Plant 'Camelia Sinesis Var Assamica'.
Assam tea is an Indian black tea, produced in the Assam region in
Northern India. Most of the tea is grown by the Brahmaputra River. The
Assam region is the world's largest tea growing area, with over 800
estates, and Assam tea is the world's most produced tea.
While the Assam region has wild tea plants, these do not produce a
palatable brew. Modern-day Assam tea is harvested from plants that are
a hybrid of native Assam plants and Chinese tea plants.
Though "Assam" generally denotes the distinctive black teas from
Assam, the region produces relatively smaller quantities of green and
white teas as well with their own distinctive characteristics.
Tea Qualities of India
Darjeeling tea is one of the types of tea considered to be of the
highest quality, the tastiest and the most expensive. The origin of
this tea is the Darjeeling region which is located in North -Western
Bengal in India. The tea bushes grow on the high and steep slopes of
the Himalaya Mountains and benefit from the warming mountain sunshine
during the day, from lower temperatures during the night and from an
abundance of rain. Darjeeling tea has a fine flowery aroma, a light
body and a taste reminiscent of Muscatel. Sipping the tea causes a
slight tingling feeling on the tongue and this is proof of its
quality. Darjeeling Tea has been called the "champagne of tea" because
of its rare quality and its prestige and exclusivity.
Earl Grey Tea
Digboi is known as the Oil City of Assam where the first oil well in
Asia was drilled. The first refinery was started here as early as
1901. Digboi is the oldest oil well in operation. This place still
retains the British ambience, complemented by the clubs and Golf
Digboi in Assam is an oil town that can be traced to the early 18th
century, when oil was first discovered here. Digboi can proudly boast
of two unique features - a 100-year-old extant oilfield and the
world's oldest operating oil refinery.
The Blue Mountains or the Nilgiris are mountain ranges situated in
South India. Nilgiri tea is grown at elevations ranging from 1000
meters to above 2500 meters. Nilgiri teas are relatively mild with a
mellow, light and clean liquor and grow all year round unlike the
seasonal Assam and Darjeeling teas.
Nilgiri tea is usually auctioned in Coonoor, Coimbatore and Kochi.
Oolong and Black teas are produced in large quantities. Most of the
tea is grown for domestic consumption, though some of it is exported,
particularly the higher grades and green teas.
In 1815 it was noticed that the people of Assam drank a tea from
locally growing plants, but identification of these as tea plants
proved inconclusive. In 1823, a Major Robert Bruce had also learnt of
the existence of tea in Assam and sent samples to the East India
Company's Botanic Gardens at Calcutta, who declined to confirm that
the samples were tea. Lieutenant Charlton, who was on service in Assam
in 1831, sent plants to the Agricultural and Horticultural Society in
Calcutta with the observation that the leaves were drunk as an
infusion in Assam, and that they tasted of Chinese tea when dried.
Charlton's plants were also denied official recognition.