Speak it out loud and proud. India is the world’s second-largest tea producer. Although a majority of the tea produced in India is exported, it is also consumed locally. In India, tea is a major obsession, if not addiction. The British were instrumental in promoting tea in India, but not everyone knows that the Camellia Sinensis is indigenous to India. It is a common misconception that the tea plant arrived in India via the Silk Route or from China.
The British brought seedlings from China and discovered that the Assamic tea plant had been growing in India’s wilderness for years. Some tribes in India drank this tea for medicinal purposes. They chewed it or used it as an infusion, and not just for pleasure. Today, Indian teas such as Masala Chai are staples and enjoyed for their delicious taste.
With the aid of Wardian cases, 80,000 seeds were germinated from China in the Calcutta Botanical Gardens and distributed to the foothills the Himalayas and South India. The Chinese tea plant was initially a failure and the focus shifted to the native Assamic varieties. In 1837, the British established the first plantation of tea in Assam. By 1840, the Indian tea industry began to grow. It would take more than a decade for the Indian tea industry to reach the same quality as the Chinese tea.
There has been debate over whether the tea in India comes from Assam, or China. In 1958, Robert Sealy, a botanist from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, presented new findings. He distinguished between Camellia Sinesis and Camellia Sinesis vari. Sinesis, which is indigenous to China and can grow up to 19 feet high, and Camellia Sinesis vari. Assamica, which is native to Assam, can grow up to 56 feet tall.
You have the answer. India is the home of tea. Assam Darjeeling Nilgiri and other regions have their own unique varieties of tea, which are protected under India’s Geographical Indication status. These teas with a single origin are known as “terroir” and are highly prized around the world. Our Lavender White Tea is also sourced from Darjeeling. Click here to order our single-origin gourmet teas.