Tea Tourism in India


Written by Vishwamitra

Vishwamitra Singh is an alumnus of JNU, New Delhi. He has done MA in Chinese Studies and has been working in the field of International trade for many years. He is MD of Leisure & Pleasure International Pvt. Ltd. a company that delivers what it promises.

December 6, 2020

Tea Tourism in India

Aao ji, chai peeyo! This is the normal way to show respects to a guest in India. Indians love to drink tea, as it refreshes and can be drunk any time of the day. Moreover, our Masala Chai is the most famous import to the world.

As per records, Indian tribes consumed tea, as early as 12th century. British started commercial production of tea. The British were importing tea from China so when they found tea in Assam it gave them hope. Since, Assam tea was bitter consequently the British started to look for area suitable for tea production. The British smuggled Chinese tea saplings and started growing in Darjeeling.

Soon Darjeeling was famous as one of the finest quality tea producers surpassing China. Furthermore, this success inspired Britishers to explore more regions to increase the tea plantation cover.

Initially, Indians did not like the taste of tea. Even after independence, Government of India had to form a Tea promotion council, to promote the consumption of tea. Today it’s like a part of our routine. Additionally, Tea tourism is among the most favored as the vast tea plantations are a treat to our eyes.

Now we have Tea estates converted into hotels offering accommodation in the middle of tea plantations. In addition activities like walking or hiking tea plucking take you closer to nature. Where, the chirping of birds, cool breeze, streams, and breath-taking views will leave you amazed. Moreover Tea tourism begins with Plantation and takes you to Tea factory. In the factory you can see the processing of tea. You will also be welcome to Tea tasting session, and offered various flavours.

While driving from Bagdogra to Darjeeling, one can visit the Makaibari Tea Estate. Established in 1859 it is the world’s first tea factory. A traveler can enjoy Forest trek, bird watching, harvesting of leaves as a part of ecotourism here. However, Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiris, Munnar, and Palampur Tea gardens have the most sought after teas.


Tea Tourism in Darjeeling, West Bengal

The most famous tea in India is Darjeeling tea. World over the flavor and sweet smell of Darjeeling tea is much loved. The elevation of around 188mts above sea level is the best for tea production.

Darjeeling teas get three-four flushes in a year between March and November. Every flush gives a different variety of tea: Oolong, black, green, and white. The first flush harvest is the most expensive, the variety and quality drop with every flush. Darjeeling Tea is the ‘Champagne of teas.’

While at Darjeeling, an itinerary for an early morning tour to Tiger Hills (8482 Ft / 2586 Mts at around 04:00 AM) to view sunrise over Kanchendzonga Peak and later after breakfast goes for a half-day sightseeing of the Japanese Temple, Peace pagoda, Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park & Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Tenzing & Gombu Rock, Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Center & panoramic view of Tea Estate can be enjoyed. A joy ride on a narrow-gauge heritage train. This joy ride takes you to another attraction- Ghoom Monastery, 1850 built Tibetan monastery with 15 feet statue of Maitreya Buddha.

If requested, a stay at a tea estate can be arranged. Stay at a tea estate will give you the feel of green slopes, parallel lines of tea plants, mountain air, and tranquility, all at the same time. Boating at Mirik lake is like being in paradise, and the nature around will make most people avid trekkers.


Tea Tourism in Jorhat, Assam 

As already written, the British were importing tea from China, but when they found tea in Assam, it gave them hope. The Assamese tea had a brisk malty flour, some even call it a little bitter taste, which we enjoy with sugar and milk. The leaves of C. sinensis assamica grown in Assam make tea. It is mainly black tea, cultivated in the lowlands on the two sides of the Brahmaputra river. The product quantity is the highest in the world. It is one of the world’s largest tea-growing regions considering production.

Assam tea is harvested 2 times between March and November period. Whereas in Darjeeling tea first flush will have the quality and with every flush the quality decreases, but in Assam tea, the first flush is lower in quality, but the second flush is higher quality. People believe that Assam tea boosts your energy and alertness level. Some studies also link Assam tea’s consumption to reducing cancer risks.

Apart from Tea Gardens, in North East India, Jorhat is an important tourist place of Assam as it has the largest river island in the world named Majuli, which is on the Bramhaputra River. Jorhat is a commercial centre, mainly for its tea industry and jewellery making prowess of its artisans. The traditional designs used by the craftsmen of Jorhat are worth possessing, reflecting the age-old colourful tradition of India.

Among the main tourist attractions of Jorhat, Majuli Island, The Tea Festival is held in the district of Jorhat, Assam in India. Jorhat is well-known for its extensive tea gardens and is the nerve centre of the tea industry. Jorhat has the world-famous Tocklai Experimental Centre. Well known for its scenic beauty, the riverine of Majuli Island, the river cruise to and from will feel like a cruise on the sea.


Tea Tourism in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu

Leaves of Camellia sinensis, grown and processed in the Nilgiri Hills in the western ghat mountain region make the Nilgiri tea. It is the same variety as the Darjeeling tea. If ranked on the order of quality, it comes third after Darjeeling and Assam tea. This tea is highly popular in North America.

After the British were successful in Darjeeling and Assam, in tea cultivation, they looked for similar climatic conditions in India and found the weather and soil suitable for tea production in Nilgiri Hills. The climate here enhances the fragrance and flavor. Nilgiri tea is harvested 4 times between March and November similar to Darjeeling tea. The theanine has a relaxing effect, and the antioxidants, catechins, and polyphenols present in this tea help combat many health problems like heart diseases, cancer, high blood pressure, etc.

Nilgiris is famous for its eucalyptus oil and tea and bauxite. Some tourists come to study the lifestyles of the various tribes living here also. Nilgiris is a part of the Western Ghats. Ooty the “Queen of Hill Stations”, Coonoor 19 km from Ooty, and Kotagiri 31 km from Ooty, are the three hill stations of this district. The Name ‘Nilgiris’ means Blue hills (Neelam – Blue and Giri – Hill or Mountain) seems people living in the plains at the foot of the hills, had given the name, the Nilgiris, in view of the violet blossoms of ‘kurinji’ flower enveloping the hill ranges periodically.

The Blue Mountains around tea plantations add to the beauty of the area. The best way to enjoy the breathtaking views of its peaks and the vegetation is to board the narrow gauge toy train. It’s not only the surroundings that attract but also the weather which is mostly cloudy, drizzling, and cool. Drive back from Ooty will take you through the Madhumalai wildlife sanctuary. While still at Ooty, a visit the Botanical garden is a must.

Tea Tourism in Munnar, Kerala 

Until the 1870s, the British were unaware of this beautiful place, which is like a sea of clouds, called Munnar. British officer John Daniel Munro found it. This wild and virgin region mesmerized him; he leased out the region from the royal family who possessed it. After a while, he realized the alleviation of around 1600 meters, and the slopes and rain were totally suitable for tea plantations.

The higher altitude increases the taste and aroma of the tea. Though the origin of the tea is from the same sapling as Darjeeling or Nilgiri teas. This place also hosts “India’s first tea museum”, which can impart a lot of knowledge about the journey of tea from the plantation to your cup.

If you wish to visit Munnar, you will have to fly to Cochin and the itinerary will begin from Cochin. Cochin sightseeing. Visit Fort Cochin, Jewish Synagogue and Dutch Palace, and Marine Drive. On the way to Munnar proceed to visit Pine Apple Garden, Rubber Plantations, Spice Plantations, Valara Falls, and Cheeyappara Falls.

When in Munnar, you can explore multiple treks that start from the tea plantations and lead you to the hills’ peak gifting breath-taking views. Mattupetty Dam and Kundala lake will be breathtaking. Further, you can proceed to Thekkady.  One of the finest wildlife reserves in India is in the Periyar Forest.

This plantation town is situated on the outskirts of the Periyar sanctuary. Later it is up to you as a traveler, you can move forward to Kumarakom and enjoy the backwaters, or you can drive back to Cochin.


Tea Tourism in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh 

The British found that the Chinese variety of Camellia sinensis was suitable for Palampur / Kangra area. The Kangra tea was considered to be superior to tea from other places and is very popular in Kabul and Central Asia.

In 1886 and 1895, the tea received gold and silver medals at international conventions held in London and Amsterdam. Palampur is also known as the tea capital of Northwest India. In 1905, there was an earthquake and hundreds of people lost their lives forcing the British to leave the plantations. Consequently, new owners came but they had smaller plantation areas, so lesser quantity was produced.

In 2012, the foundation stone for the Palampur regional office of the Tea Board of India was laid, marking a significant step towards the re-integration of the Kangra region into the mainstream of the Indian tea industry. Here, the tea’s superior form with unique colour and flavor produced is attributed to the region’s climate and geographical conditions. The majority of tea cultivated here is black tea with a very small proportion of Green tea.

When you wish to visit Palampur tea plantations, the drive will be through Kangra Valley, Dharamshala onwards to Baijnath / Palampur. Kangra valley is a visual delight with tall deodar trees and its many temples. Dharamshala is the residence of the Dalai Lama and his followers, who came to India in the 1950s. The Buddhist monasteries are a peaceful experience. Baijnath is famous for the Shiva Temple. On reaching Palampur, of course, Tea plantations are there. behind the town stands high ranges of Dhauladhar mountains (white hills of snow), whose tops remain covered for most of the year. This place is being developed as a large tourist centre, there is Tashi Jong Buddhist Monastery also.

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1 Comment

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