The state of Assam in India is famous for two things – its lush green hills and forests and tea. The black tea variant produced in this region is loved all over the world by tea enthusiasts for its intense, full-bodied flavour and bright colour of the liquid. It is what makes this blend popular as a breakfast tea.
Another exciting characteristic of Assam tea is that it is produced in two flushes. The first flush lasts from late March to late may whereas the second flush is in June. The renowned Assam ‘tippy tea’ is produced during this second flush.
Origin of Tea Plantation in Assam
Assam tea plantation is one of the first plantations in India. The origin of tea plantation in Assam can be linked backed to a Scottish adventurer by the name of Robert Bruce who visited India in 1823 for trading purposes. While exploring Rangpur, he encountered wild tea bushes growing near the area. When he made a further enquiry on the matter, an Indian nobleman Maniram Dewan asked him to speak to the chief of the local tribe Singpho.
Robert Bruce noticed that local tribe members brewed the leaves of this plant and consumed the liquid. He arranged with the chief of the tribes to give him samples of plants which he then sent to London for scientific testing. However, as he passed away shortly after this event, no proper conclusion regarding the plant was reached.
A few years later, Robert Bruce’s brother Charles sent a few leaves from the tea bush to the botanical garden in Kolkata where it was finally recognised as a variant of Camellia sinensis var assamica.
Once the plant was classified as a variant of tea and its commercial potential was assessed, the British setup Assam Tea Company which acquired vast stretches of land in Assam and began large scale production of tea. It was the first-ever tea plantation which encouraged others to start their own.
Types of Tea Grown
There are two main kinds of Assam tea – orthodox and CTC tea. The difference between these two have been discussed in brief below –
Orthodox Assam Tea – This is the higher quality tea which is entirely hand-rolled to preserve its aroma and flavour. Moreover, they contain golden buds or tips which enhance the taste of the drink. Hence, the higher the quantity of tips, the better quality it is. The different grades of orthodox black tea are pekoe, flowery orange pekoe, orange pekoe and souchong.
CTC Assam Tea – The name of this type of tea is a short form for its manufacturing process, which is – crush tear and curl. Unlike orthodox tea, the leaves go through a machine which crushes, tears and finally curls and rolls them into tiny pellets.
Another fascinating fact about tea plantations in Assam is that they do not follow the Indian standard time. As this region experiences early sunrise compared to the rest of the country, they are on a separate time zone from the other state. The local time in tea plantations which is an hour ahead of IST is known as the ‘Bagan time’ or tea garden time. An advantage of this system is that it has resulted in increased productivity in the area.
So now that you know these interesting facts about tea plantation in Assam and buy tea online in the USA to treat yourself to a cup right now!