India Tea Facts
After Europeans discovered tea in China, the British took tea plants to India in order to cultivate and develop an alternative source for the growing European appetite. Indian is now one of the World's largest producers and home to some delightful and unique teas.
Darjeeling name originates from Tibetan, meaning 'Land of the Thunder Bolt.' Due to it's altitude, Darjeeling appears to touch the touch the sky and during storms is illuminated by lightening and shaken by the rolling thunder.
See also: Darjeeling photo galleries
Historically, Assam was one of the earliest frontiers of the 'Gold' rush which saw Britain's first mass cultivation of tea outside of China. Assam and much of Burma was seized by the East India Company around 1826, the move was strategic to secure India's borders and to access the valuable jungles and to increase opium production. Assam provided the British with another vital discovery, one which would eventually revolutionise tea cultivation in India. Though discovered earlier by brothers Robert and Charles Bruce, it was not till 1835 that Camilla Assamica was formally acknowledged as being tea, rather than just one of the many of other flower Camilla which had been found. It was not until 1837 that the first batches of Assam tea were shipped to Calcutta, nonetheless tea production was very slow to take off due to the unyielding jungles of the region. It was not until the 1860's that volumes grew, even then it production was mired by the unbelievable rates of death and horrendous working conditions.
For those interested in this part of tea's history we highly recommend Alan and Iris MacFarlane's great book 'The Empire of Tea'.