Tea holds a special place in our lives, and one of the most intriguing stories in the tea world is the history of Assam tea. From its discovery to its rise as one of India's largest tea-producing regions, Assam tea has a rich and captivating past. In this article, we will discuss where Assam tea comes from, how it's grown, and why it's important.
The Origins of Tea
Tea has been a cherished drink for ages, with its roots dating back to ancient China. According to legend, in 2737 BC, Emperor Shen Nung stumbled upon tea when tea leaves fortuitously dropped into his pot of boiling water. This marked the beginning of tea's popularity in China, and it later spread to various corners of the globe.
Assam Tea - A Hidden Treasure
While China was the only known producer and exporter of tea, little did the world know that there was a hidden treasure in the northeastern region of India - Assam. Assam is flanked by the Northern Himalayas, the Brahmaputra Plain, and the Deccan Plateau, making it a biodiversity hotspot. It is in this picturesque state that tea was discovered.
The Discovery of Assam Tea
The credit for discovering Assam tea goes to the Bruce brothers. In 1823, Scottish merchant Robert Bruce, while trading near Rangpur in Assam, came across the Singpho tribe who had been drinking tea as an herbal beverage for years. The Singpho chief, Bessa Gam, introduced Robert Bruce to the local way of making tea from the leaves of the tea bush. This encounter marked the beginning of Assam tea's journey.
The Pioneers of Assam Tea
Maniram Dewan, a nobleman and the main administrative and financial officer of the Assam Company played a significant role in promoting tea cultivation in Assam. After leaving the Assam Company in 1841, Maniram Dewan established his own tea estate, becoming the first Indian to venture into tea cultivation. Sadly, he was executed by the British in 1858 for his involvement in the 1857 uprising.
The Rise of Assam Tea
With the discovery of tea plants in Assam, the East India Company saw an opportunity to break China's monopoly on tea production. In 1835, twelve chests of Assam tea, produced by the Singpho tribe, were shipped from Calcutta to London. This marked the beginning of Assam tea's journey into the international market.
The Assam Tea Company
In 1839, the Assam Tea Company became the first organization to be established exclusively for the cultivation and production of Assam tea. By 1862, there were over 160 tea estates in Assam, operated by both private individuals and public organizations. The growth of the tea industry in Assam brought socio-economic development to the region, with British planters and laborers from different parts of India coming together.
The Unique Qualities of Assam Tea
Assam tea is known for its distinctive characteristics. The Assam tea bush has dark green, glossy leaves and delicate white blossoms. The tea produced from these leaves has a bold, brisk, and malty flavor, with a deep reddish-brown color. Assam's tropical climate, fertile soil, and abundant rainfall create the perfect conditions for tea cultivation, contributing to the unique taste and quality of Assam tea.
Assam Tea - A Key Player in the Tea Industry
Assam's tea industry plays a vital role in the state's economy, both in terms of revenue and employment. With over 800 organized tea plantations and more than 100,000 small-scale cooperatives and individual tea farms, Assam produces over 600 million kilograms of tea annually. Assam tea is highly sought after and is one of the most consumed teas in India and around the world.
The Future of Assam Tea
As Assam tea continues to thrive, there is a growing emphasis on sustainability and the preservation of the region's biodiversity. Tea gardens in Assam are adopting sustainable practices and certifications such as trustea.org to ensure responsible and eco-friendly tea production. Efforts are also being made to reduce human-elephant conflict and protect the natural habitat of elephants that roam freely in the tea farms.
Assam Tea - A Journey Worth Savoring
The history of Assam tea is a fascinating tale of discovery, innovation, and cultural exchange. From its humble beginnings to becoming a powerhouse in the tea industry, Assam tea has left an indelible mark on the world of tea. So, the next time you sip a cup of Assam tea, take a moment to appreciate the rich history and heritage behind this beloved beverage.
Assam tea's journey from its discovery by the Bruce brothers to its rise as a prominent tea-producing region is truly remarkable. The lush green tea gardens of Assam, with their unique flavor and character, continue to captivate tea enthusiasts around the world. As the tea industry evolves and embraces sustainability, Assam tea is not just a testament to the history and culture of tea; it also embodies a commitment to excellence, ensuring exceptional quality for all tea enthusiasts.