Tea Tourism In India
Most Indians start off their day with a good cup of tea. In Bengal, it is usually the liquor tea or the ‘lal cha’ served with biscuits. In Gujarat, it is the masala chai with some added ginger and local herbs. Rajasthani people like it with lots of milk and saffron.
Then of course there are variations of tea like white, green, black, oolong, and so on. But there is no denying that tea is something that you can find in all Indian homes. And wouldn't it be great to visit places where it all begins!
India is one of the finest tea makers in the world. Whether you love your tea strong, lightly brewed, or even with lots of milk, there is no denying that you enjoy exploring these avenues. So check out some of the best tea tourism zones in India-
The queen of the hills, Darjeeling
is also the queen of tea plantations and almost 25% of the tea output of the country comes from here. Darjeeling is surely a prized possession for floral smelling tea with huge leaves.
Best time to visit
- March to November is the season for tea plucking.
Makaibari Tea Estate
This estate is situated in Kurseong, which is close to Darjeeling. This is also the first tea factory of the world and had been established in 1859.
The 4th generation owner Rajah Banerjee, has taken the estate to the unification of ecology with technology via holistic sustainable practices.
Glenburn Tea Estate
The Scottish Tea Company had started this estate in 1860 and later the Prakash family in Calcutta took over the same. Spread over an area of 1,600 acres, this estate is located on the south of Rangeet river.
Chiabari Tea Estate
This tea estate is owned and managed by the renowned Chamong Group, which is in its 6th generation. They have been doing the business since 1916, with their first tea garden in Assam. The Darjeeling Chiabari had Tumsong as its first retreat.
In 1867 J. A. Wernicke, the German owner of the nearby Lingia estate had planned the estate around the Tamsa Devi temple. a local deity.
The tea plants in Chiabari grow slowly but with complete flavor. Even the Chamong group believes that the goddess Tamsa herself takes care of this serene location.
Castleton Tea Estate
This one is owned by Goodricke Group and runs along Punkhabari, Kurseong and Hill Cart Road. It is situated on the southern side of Kurseong sub district.
Founded in 1885 by Dr. Charles Graham, the estate gets its name from a castle that still exists in the area. Earlier the name 'Kumseri' had been thought upon.
Spread over 1830 meters the cultivation ground for this tea estate is about 170 hectares. The classic black, green and white teas are grown here.
Badamtam Tea Estate
This tea estate is located in the Lebong Valley, which is about 17 kilometres on the west of the Darjeeling. It faces the mighty Kanchenjunga and is one of the best s tea estate produces for Spring tea in the world.
The estate begins from the end of Bada Ging Tea Estate and Chhota Ging Tea Estate and goes right up to the Majhi Tar basin in Sikkim.
Located at a height of about 1830 metres, the tea estate gets it name from a Lepcha word and means bamboo water carrier. The first flush teas made here are prized across the globe.
Balasun Tea Estate
This tea estate is located on the North Kurseong area in Sonada. Spread over almost 181 hectares and at a height starting from 365 meters and ends at 1375 meters, this tea garden produces a blend of different teas.
The fluctuating temperature and the drastic height difference makes it possible to grow many varieties of tea here. Balasun Tea Estate produces about 51% pure China tea, 40% hybrid Assam type and and the rest is Darjeeling quality clonal variety.
Established in 1871, the estate as been named after the river that flows through the bottom of the garden. It has changed many owners and is currently owned by Jay Shree Tea company since 2005.
Angrove Tea EstateThe tea estate is a complete organic one that was taken over by the KPL International group in 2008. The estate is located at a very high altitude and is situated in the Rungbong Valley in Darjeeling.
The elevation here varies between 2200 to over 5500 feet. It produces 60% China Clonal tea and the rest are hybrid. It grows almost 60,000 - 70,000 kg tea per year.
Located on the extreme northern side of India, Assam
is indeed the home to some of the finest tea gardens in the world
Basically the tea produced here is usually black tea. The tea here is made form the plant Camellia sinensis and it is usually grown at or very near sea level.
The tea has a very bold flavour here and it is rather malty. These are brighter in colour and they usually get sold as "breakfast" teas. The Irish breakfast tea is made with smaller sized leaves from the region.
Currently Assam remains to be the biggest tea-growing region globally. Though the climate here is not very cold and prone to humidity and heat during summer months, it adds to the tea business.
Best time to visit
- March to November but avoid the monsoons.
Khongea Tea Estate, Assam
This tea estate had been formed in the 19th century by two English women. 50 years earlier it came to the Prakash Family that also manages the Glenburn group in Darjeeling.
It is currently managed with Sudhir Prakash who works closely with Tea Research Association located near Jorhat. The plantation has state-of-the-art machinery and produces a variety of teas ranging from black orthodox and CTC to green.
Dikom Tea EstateIf someone is looking for good quality orthodox tea, then Dikom is one of the unique flavors that they can get. The tea grown here has a unique taste and is both tippy and bright. Located right in the heart of the tea growing zones of Assam, Dikom was also the queen of the old Jokai (Assam) Tea Company Ltd.
Their fields are very well maintained with a 63% clonal area. It has very high quality clones like P126A, N436, S3A3, T3A3, CPI, Tenali 17.
Dikom has a very aggressive uprooting and replanting concept where they use high quality clones. The yield from the younger clones are used for creating newer ones.
In the ancient times, native rulers of Bodo-Kacharies discovered that the water here was uniquely sweet and thus its got its name Doi-in Bod, which means sweet water.
McLeod Russel Tea EstateMcLeod Russel first planted tea in 1869 and is one of the largest tea producers in the world today. They manage 48 tea estates in the Assam Valley along with 5 in the Dooars region of West Bengal.
McLeod Russel also has 3 factories in Vietnam, 6 estates in Uganda and are the managerial controllers of Gisovu estate in Rwanda.
In the year 1869 Captain J.H. Williamson and Richard Boycott Magor formed the tea estate. The initial office was in 7 New China Bazaar Street, Calcutta.
Over the years, the company has changed hands and expanded. Later the company was christened as Macneill & Magor Limited.
Joonktollee Tea Estate
Located in the Barbam, Dibrugarh District of Upper Assam, this tea estate has an area of about 1867.98 acres. Nearly 1202.82 acres from that is under plantation.
The estate remains to be one of the largest single location contemporary factories for tea in North-East India. Their product is about 3 million kgs per annum. The Joonktollee Tea Estate is ISO 22000:2005 certified by SGS, UK. They currently manufacture CTC Tea, Orthodox Tea and Green Tea along with tea waste.
Warren’s Tea EstateWarren’s tea estate is one of the best managed in the state and provides world-class tea. The teas grown here have a reputation that they live up to. The process here includes advanced techniques along with mature experience.
The tea leaves from the estate have a rich colour, with briskness and strength. their rich liquor, brightness, briskness and strength. All of the two leaves along with the plucked bud is grown under strict supervision of experts.
Kanoka Tea Estate
The Kanoka tea estate is also one of the organic Assam tea estates of the group named Assamica Agro. It is located at Panchnoi Prajapathar in Sonitpur district of Assam and has about 8.8 hectares of land under plantation.
As the name suggests, the nature of growing here is organic. The estate follows strict sustainable organic procedures of tea growing as per the IFOAM standards.
This Kerala town is also home to some of the best tea plantations. The climate in southern India is ideal for growing different kinds of coffee, but some teas grown in this region have a worldwide following.
Best time to visit
- September through April
Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company (P) Ltd.
In the late 19th century, this area was converted into a tea estate. During the early1970s the TATA group formed an associated with the Finlay company to become a stake holder here.
As time passed, the TATA group gained compete control over the tea estate and formed the TATA Tea Ltd. In 2005 TATA exited the tea plantation business and the Kannan Devan Hills Company Plantation Ltd. took over.
Wayanad Tea County
Wayanad are lush mountainous regions in the state of Kerala and it produces some of the most magnificent tea along with coffee and prices too. As one takes the Chembra Peak road, this private estate becomes visible. There is a guest house here too, which makes it possible for tourists to enjoy some time out here.
The lush state of Sikkim
shares its borders with Darjeeling. Like Darjeeling it too has a cool climate almost all year round with some snowfall during the colder months. It is also the home to some lush and eco-friendly tea gardens.
Temi Tea Garden
The tea garden lies between Damthang and Temi Bazaar enroute to Singtam. Established in 1969, this government owned estate covered an area of about 440 acres.
Temi tea grows along steep hillsides that range from 1200-1800m. The drive up the Temi plantation makes you feel very close to nature. The Institute of Marketology (IMO) of Switzerland gave this garden ‘organic' certification.