Being an Assamese blogger, I have been often questioned why I have not written about the things that are considered as the symbol of my state. In fact, I have not been writing about two things that define Assam at all. The first one is Greater One-horned Rhinos and the other one is Assam Tea. The first one, I am not eager to write about it. My husband is wildlife biologist whose focus is the rhinos and I get to discuss only this magnificent beast in my home. So naturally, I stay away from it while I work.
The other thing that defines my state is Tea. We, Assamese, are addicted to this beverage. In fact, now I am sipping a steaming cup of Assam tea while writing these lines. It is our identity. Tea was among the first questions I was asked while I studied in Delhi apart from if we still live in the jungle and do we need to have a passport to come to Delhi. The exact question was ‘Emm..aahh…do you have a sort of tea garden instead of a kitchen garden?’ Yes. Tea is that specific to us Assamese!
Tea is one of the most loved beverages in the entire world. It is mainly produced in northeast India, some patches of south India, Sri Lanka, China etc. Assam tea is widely loved and used in the world. Tea prices are very average and so at every stratum of the society, it is widely used making it common people’s beverage. Tea in Assam has its own history which is not less than a fairy tale. So, people… brace yourself for an exciting journey to know what is Assam tea. Read this piece and get ready to buy tea online India. Here we go!
The history of Assam Tea dates back to 1823
A British mercenary, on his trip to Assam in 1823, was offered a bowl of steaming liquor by a local Sing thou (an indigenous tribe from Assam) chief. As soon as Robert Bruce, the mercenary, sipped the bowl, he was energized with a raw energy. He understood that this was no ordinary local beverage but Tea, for which there was an uproar going on in England. Till that time, tea was a monopoly of China where tea was cultivated and guarded with utmost secrecy so that no one can snatch the business from them. Lots of efforts were already made to grow tea in other parts of the world but in vain. The business heart and mind in Mr. Bruce leaped with joy. He requested some leaves to the chief which were sent to his brother Charles Alexander Bruce to check.
Assam Tea is reigning over British islands since the 1930s
The samples sent by Robert were identified as tea and it was rejoiced by the East India Company as it was opening their doors to the tea trade. Robert’s brother Alexander was appointed as the Superintendent of Govt Tea forests in Assam and it was under his care, the first batch of Assam tea was exported to England in 1837. It was an instant hit among the tea-loving people of England and gradually, lots of people are getting attracted to this tiny state in their empire.
The first sapling and labors in Assam tea plantation were Chinese
At first, the Assam Company was doubtful about the quality of the local tea species. So, they smuggled four lakh tea sapling and labor from China. Though the saplings did not survive the hot and humid weather of Assam, the Chinese laborers helped in initiating the tea plantation in Assam. There was a significant Chinese population in Assam before 1960. Though most of them were either deported or left the country during the Indochina war, there are still people of Chinese origin in Assam. If you want to know more about them, do read the novel Makam by Sahitya Academy winner author Dr. Rita Chowdhury. The book has documented the smuggled Chinese labors to Assam and their descendants’ heartbreaking deportation from Assam. The book is translated into English as The Golden Horse as well as in the Marathi language too.
The Assam tea flavor that has won hearts of millions
Assam tea has a unique strong malty taste and a bright color which gives it its uniqueness. It was researched that this unique flavor comes from the climate Assam has. The climate varies from cool and dry winter to hot, rainy summer which helps the tea plants to grow prolifically producing the best tea in the world. Assam accounts for around 55% of the global tea production every year. And it means you have a little of my state every day in your morning rituals!
Different time zone for Assam tea gardens
Yes. It is hard to believe but the tea gardens in Assam follow a different time zone than Indian Standard Time (IST). As Assam receives sunrays earlier than the rest of the country, the Britishers introduced the system to save the daylight. The general working hour of a tea garden in Assam is 8-30/9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Isn’t is unique to have a time zone devoted to themselves only?
Tea also has many qualities and every household has their own recipe to brew the perfect cup of tea. There are so many varieties of Assam tea available in the market and you are free to choose from it. Currently, my personal favorite one is the Orthodox tea where you don’t have to brew the tea in hot water. Just boil the water, add the tea leaves and cover. After two-three minutes, your ticket to a healthy life is ready to sip! You can also buy tea online to taste various types of tea available in Assam.