Origin of tea in India
India is the second largest tea producer in the world. We Indians cannot think about beginning our day without sipping our favorite cup of tea. But did we ever wonder how Tea came to India? When did it actually become popular?
The East India Company was the first one to introduce tea in India. Chinese varieties of tea were first introduced by them in India, in an attempt to break the Chinese monopoly on tea. It was originally only consumed by Anglicized Indians, and it was not until the 1920s (and in rural North India, the 1950s) that tea grew widely popular in India through a successful advertising campaign by the Tea Board. Prior to the British, the plant may have been used for medicinal purposes. Maniram Dewan (1806-1858) was the first Indian tea planter, and is credited with establishing the first commercial plantations of the Assamese variety of tea. Now we know how Assam Tea started to grow.
While writing about the journey of tea to India, the third question I came up with is how tea was grown in Darjeeling?
Tea planting in the Indian district of Darjeeling began in 1841 by Arthur Campbell, a civil surgeon of the Indian Medical Service. Campbell was transferred to Darjeeling in 1839 from Kathmandu, Nepal. In 1841, he brought seeds of the Chinese tea plant (Camellia sinensis) from Kumaun and began to experiment with tea planting in Darjeeling. Commercial development of Darjeeling Tea began during the 1850s. In 1856, the Alubari tea garden was opened by the Kurseong and Darjeeling Tea Company, followed by others.
Around 1881 a valley was planted with teas on lush green paddy fields which belonged to Gopal, the first half of the name from which the tea estate derived its name “Gopaldhara”. Then, and even today, the paddy fields are interspersed with natural streams called Dhara. Thus the name Gopaldhara which produces one of the finest Darjeeling Teas in the world was established. At the end of 1920 the owner of Gopaldhara sold the Estate to Mr. Kingslay. In 1947, he sold the Estate to Moolji Sikka & Co. In 1953-54, they sold the Estate to Mr. Dalchand Saria which is now being managed by his sons & grandsons under the Sona Tea Group along with Rohini Tea Estate in Darjeeling and New Glencoe & Soonagachi Tea Estate in the Dooars.
Gopaldhara still produces some of the best teas from more than the 132 years old China bushes planted by British people, which are always appreciated by the tea lovers. So, now you know the history of the most recreational drink and the Highest Elevated Tea Garden of Darjeeling, Gopaldhara Tea Estates. You will not only enjoy the freshness of Darjeeling hills, but you will also experience the history of Gopaldhara while sipping its exquisite teas. Gopaldhara is also one of the highest elevated tea estates in the region growing teas at an altitude of almost 7000ft.