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International Tea Day: Key Facts and History of Worlds Highest Consumed Beverage

Today is the International Day, a day to celebrate worlds highest consumed beverage, a day to celebrate its importance in our day to day life and a day to mark India’s glowing history and struggle to establish the Tea Industry where it is today. We have something more to rejoice on this day as recently India ranked as the 2nd highest in global tea production after China. A big credit goes to the state of Assam which solely produces 70% of its total production while Darjeeling, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh contributed 30% of it. It’s a day to say a big thanks to these states and to all the small big tea farmers which vehemently working every day to get our cup of tea every morning. Assam Tea pays a significant role to enhance the image of India in global tea production and here lies a glorious past of Assam related with British India.

Assam Tea

The state with mesmerizing natural beauty with alluring greenery hills and river is also famous for its tea gardens and unique black tea. This north-eastern state is surrounded by the Northern Himalayas, Brahmaputra plains and the Deccan plateau on three sides which makes it one of the richest biodiversity zones in the world. There is a long and hidden history behind the Assam tea which is linked with British Colonial rule, but not properly recorded in mainstream Indian History. 

Let’s have a quick look at the history behind the famous Assam tea, followed by its health benefits.

The Journey and History of Assam Tea

Before the Assam, China was one and only king in tea production which was exported to different countries across the globe. The whole world was addicted to this refreshing beverage including British India but people hardly aware of this hidden gold within the northeastern state. There are many hidden stories lies within the green gardens which unfortunately Indian history is not able to record and recall. 

The vernacular history says that Assam tea owes its discovery to Robert Bruce, a Scottish gentleman who noticed Assam tea plants growing wild near Rangpur, in the hills, way back in 1823 when he was on a trading mission. He was reportedly directed by Maniram Dewan ( a martyr of India’s Independence struggle)   to Bessa Gam who was the local Singpho chief. He showed Bruce how local tribesmen (known as the Singhpos) brew tea from leaves of this bush. Bruce made an arrangement with the tribal chief to give him samples of these tea leaves with seeds, as he planned on having them scientifically examined. As luck would have it, Robert Bruce passed away a few years later, never having seen this plant being properly classified. 

In early 1830, Robert Bruce’s brother, Charles, sent a few of these leaves to a botanical garden in Calcutta to be properly examined and it was then that this plant was officially classified as a tea variety. It is said that these leaves were classified as belonging to the same species as china tea plants. 

The first company that was set up for making and growing this tea was called the Assam Tea Company and started in the year 1839. In the coming years, Assam Tea kept spreading its realm and by 1862, the Assam Tea business comprised of over 160 gardens all owned by 5 public companies along with 57 private players. It was later that the government decided to appoint a special commission for enquiring about every aspect of this company. Today, Assam Tea inculcates huge revenue amounts and is one of the most favoured teas in the country. It produces quality tea which comes with incredible health benefits.

Important Issues of Tea Farmers and Labours to be Highlighted on International Tea Day

  • Workers in closed tea gardens want protection of housing rights. Needs to remember that tea labours are still fighting for their rights.

  • Tea workers want their wages increased. They are still working under very low wages.

  • Improved sanitation and clean, potable water on tea plantations are priorities.

  • Medical care for tea workers in rural areas is lacking.

  • Women constitute more than 50 percent of the workforce on tea plantations and often do not have access to education.

These points should be highlighted and remembered on this international day of tea and an occasion to say a big thank you those who struggles to give us our everyday morning or evening tea.



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