Blog Details


Tea Company in India - A Brief History

A unique beverage

The history of tea spans centuries and every bit of it is exciting for any tea lover. We know that tea originated in China long before it was embedded in other cultures. When we delve deep into the question of how tea became the national favourite of Britain, and chai became the 'energy drink' for Indians, we will have to navigate the complex world politics, trade, and culture. It is well established now that the Chinese had been drinking tea since 21st Century BC. It was considered a medicinal drink with many healing elements. Much later via Silk Road, the Chinese started trading tea with Arabs, Turks and Tibetans and in the 17th Century, Dutch merchants took tea to Europe. First, it was an 'orient' medicine and in no time it was a fragrant and exotic drink sold at several coffee houses. The growing popularity favoured the merchants, tea started startling the residents of New Amsterdam (New York), higher taxes were levied, and wars were fought.

Tea Company in India

Tea is believed to have arrived in India much before the British setting foot in the vast sub-continent. Though not in large quantity and certainly not for the entire masses, tea was here before the British. In fact, the tea plant was native to India and was used by indigenous people of now what is known as Assam. The worth of the indigenous variety of tea plants was realized by the British when their trade relation with China fractured. The tension between the empires escalated to the point that the British had to send Mr Robert Fortune, a Scottish Botanist to China to acquire seedlings, saplings and all the necessary knowledge required to harvest and process tea in India. Probably the most epic espionage mission of the century, Mr Fortune donned the Chinese look and was able to bring back some 20,000 tea plants along with the required know-how. Although his trip was successful, the discovery of an Indian variety of tea plants by Maniram Dewan and Robert Bruce in Assam proved to be a more significant tea source.

The Chinese saplings made their way to the mountains of Darjeeling while Assam successfully harvested and processed the indigenous variety. Within a few years, there existed a formidable Tea company in India. By 1890, India was supplying 90% of Britain's domestic market. After more than half a century of Independence, India still is among the largest producer of tea with the tea-producing region of Darjeeling being recognised under PGI (Protected Geographical Indication).

Challenges & Future

The market has diversified and so have the tea companies in India. Once monopolized by the East India Company, now there are several players in the tea industry. Experts believe that the major challenges faced by the tea companies in India include pricing, climate change, community development, improving and integrating the rapidly expanding smallholder sector, and outdated legislative frameworks. However, we have also seen some growth in the consumption of white and green teas  for health reasons. A wholesome understanding of the challenges and impactful action is awaited. Nonetheless, tea is the second most drunk beverage in the world and the industry has survived much worse. We just hope that our unique and beloved beverage will see many more years. - US