We source our tea from India which has historically been known for the Taj Mahal, spicy food, yoga, cricket, Bollywood and yes, the Tea Gardens, especially the ones in Darjeeling and Assam. India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, second only to China. Our roots are in India, thus we thought it is only fair to bring the magic of Indian tea to the American people.
History of Indian tea
It is widely believed that tea was brought to India many centuries ago via the ‘silk route’ in caravans that traveled from Europe to China. Before the British formally began the tea industry in India, tea was a part of the diet of native Indians, especially in modern day Assam, where it was used mostly for its medicinal properties and benefits. Its early uses were in the preparation of soups and other vegetarian dishes, far removed from the tea we all know and love today. The widely known tea plant, Camellia Sinensis,</em> was in fact native to India but was never recognized for its value and use in the way it became known in the later years.The British were extremely fond of tea and imported it from China in large quantities well into the 17th Century. However, towards the beginning of the 18th Century, they could no longer afford to import tea from China since their resources had depleted due to the multiple wars they were fighting on many fronts. The British introduced tea in India to mainly put an end to the Chinese monopoly over tea cultivation and trade. Indian soil turned out to be perfect for the cultivation of tea and the hills of Assam and Darjeeling were converted into lavish and lush tea estates which were used for large scale tea production. Robert Bruce has been credited with discovering the native tea plant growing in the upper Brahmaputra Valley and once that was found, tea cultivation began in India and has sustained to this day. It took the British nearly 14 years to produce tea that was as good as the Chinese varieties and since then, India has remained one of the largest tea producing nations in the world.
Where our tea comes from
Our tea comes from the various well-known estates of Darjeeling, Assam, Sikkim
and Nilgiri. Read on to find out more about them!
Darjeeling is a town in the Indian state of West Bengal and is located in the foothills of Himalaya. This beautiful and picturesque location produces one of the most famous teas in the world, Darjeeling tea. Since this type of tea can only be produced here and the location and type of the soil gives a distinct flavor, it is also called the ‘champagne’ of teas. Darjeeling has more than 75 tea estates which produce premium quality tea. The economy of this district thrives on the tea industry and tourism. There are different types of Darjeeling tea which includes black tea, green tea, oolong tea, white tea and blended teas. Darjeeling black tea is exquisite and is a favorite among the tea connoisseurs! The tea estates from where we bring our Darjeeling tea are Puttabong, MIM, Arya, Rohini, Gopaldhara, Castleton etc. Darjeeling tea is also extremely rich in antioxidants and has a beautiful full-bodied flavor that is palatable to most people.
Assam is a state located in North East India which is widely known for its wildlife, archaeological sites and most importantly, its tea plantations! It is the largest tea growing region in India producing more than 600 million kgs of tea on an annual basis. The vast region spans both sides of the Brahmaputra river. Assam tea is indigenous to the state and thus has high demand. This region receives high amount of rainfall and experiences high temperature creating a hot and humid environment that is responsible for the malty nature of the Assam Teas. This tea also has a rich body with a vibrant color due to the high amount of tannins and polyphenols present in the leaves. The teas from Assam were extremely popular with the British palate when they first appeared in the mid-nineteenth century. The strong base and a brisk finish make this tea easy to blend and it also supports the addition of milk due to its strong flavor. The British used it extensively for their English Breakfast Tea. There are two kinds of Assam Tea: CTC and Orthodox, both named after the manufacturing process used to create them. Tea tourism is also something that Assam is known for.
Sikkim is a state in North-east India, next to Darjeeling, which is known for its stunning mountainscapes and breath-taking scenery. It houses India’s tallest mountain, Mt Kanchenjunga and its foothills are perfect for tea plantation! Steep paths lead to hilltop Buddhist monasteries such as Pemayangtse, which dates to the early 1700s. This beautiful hill station is home to some of the best Indian tea plantations. Sikkim tea is flowery and light with a delectable flavor and golden color. The tea leaves here are harvested at four different times of the year, similar to Darjeeling, creating the four different flushes of tea - the first flush, the second flush,the monsoon flush and the autumn flush. Each flush produces a tea slightly different than the one before. The first flush of Sikkim tea, harvested during springtime is a golden liquor that has a light floral finish and a hint of sweet lingering taste. The second flush of Sikkim tea is a toasty brew which is strong, yet smooth. The monsoon flush of Sikkim tea creates a full-bodied cup with mellow taste and lastly, the Autumn Flush of Sikkim tea has a well-rounded taste with a hint of warm spices. Sikkim also produces white tea, which is manufactured from the buds of unfurled new leaves, green tea, which is known for its flowery liquor and Oolong tea, which is fruity, fragrant and earthy.
The Nilgiri is a district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. ‘Nilgiri’ is the name given to a range of mountains spread across the borders of three states, namely Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. The Nilgiris is famous for its eucalyptus oil and of course, its tea! The tea’s from this region are fruity and fragrant which have a delicate floral note. The Nilgiri Hills, also known as the ‘Blue Mountains’ come under the influence of both south-west and north-east monsoons which is the main reason why the tea leaves grown here are plucked around the year. We carry their “Winter Frost” tea, which is a delicate amber colored tea grown in the cold winter months which lends it a uniquely crisp and cool flavor. This tea is dark and intensely aromatic and the perfect accompaniment to your evenings! Nilgiri tea has the perfect balance of strength, astringency and color to meet the requirements of each and every tea drinker, be it a tea connoisseur or novice.
Which tea growing region would you most like to visit?
Tell us in the comments below!