The origin of tea, and whether a truly 'wild' plant still exists, is not clear. Camellia sinensis var. sinensis is probably native to western Yunnan, while Camellia sinensis var. assamica is native to the warmer parts of Assam (India), Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and southern China. 'Wild' tea plants can be found growing in forests, but these may be relics of past cultivation.

The cultivation and brewing of tea in India has a long history of applications in traditional systems of medicine and for consumption. Research shows that tea is indigenous to eastern and northern India, and was cultivated and consumed there for thousands of years. However ,commercial production of tea in India did not begin until the arrival of the British East India Company, at which point large tracts of land were converted for mass tea production.

The credit for creating India`s vast tea empire goes to the British, who discovered tea in India and cultivated and consumed it in enormous quantities between the early 1800s and India`s independence in 1947.

Major Robert Bruce discovered tea plants growing wild in the jungles of Assam in the 1820s. At this time, no one thought that tea exist in India; and it took some time to convince the pioneers that the native plant was real tea. Ironically, the native plants flourished, while the Chinese seedlings struggled to survive in the intense Assam heat and it was decided to make subsequent plantings with seedlings from the native tea bush.

The first 12 chests of manufacture tea from Assam leaf were shipped to London in 1838 and were sold at the London auctions on 10 January 1839. This paved the way for the formation of `Bengal Tea Association` in Calcutta and a first Joint Stock Company, the `Assam Company` in London. On success of Assam Company several other Company was formed to take up the tea cultivation. Some of the other pioneer companies include George Williamson and the Jorehaut Tea Company.

India has the unique distinction of being one of the world`s largest producers of tea. Also acclaimed as the world`s second most popular beverage, tea gives morning the world over, their distinctive feel.


Tea is known by the terms Green, Oolong and Black. The types are references to processing and oxidization. The simplest explanation is to think of leaf that is picked or falls from any bush. The leaf turns stages of colors until it is finally black. In the case of tea, oxidization is stopped at various stages


Green tea is nothing more than the leaves of the camellia sinensis that have been processed a certain way. Green tea skips the oxidizing step. It has more delicate taste and is light green or golden in colours. They are also lower in caffeine and have higher antioxidant properties.


The best way to describe oolong tea is that they are somewhere in between green and black tea. This is because they are only partially oxidized during the processing. Oolong tea is popular in China.


Black teas are the most consumed of teas and accounts for 83% of the world tea trade. They are the highest in caffeine. Black tea is the most popular tea in the world. It is the tea most widely used in making iced tea and English tea. There are two types of Black Teas:

  1. Orthodox Tea -  It accounts for 44% of the world market
  2. CTC Tea       - It accoun5ts for 39% of the world market.

It is tea that has been fully oxidized or fermented and yields a hearty flavored amber brew. Some of the popular black teas of India origin include Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri.


China is the one of the largest tea producing country that produces Green tea, Oolong Tea and Black Tea .Other than China, Oolong tea is produced mainly in Taiwan. Black tea is produced in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Kenya, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Malawi etc.. Green tea is produced also in the old Soviet Union, Japan and some other places.


India is one of the largest tea producers in the world with 1600 gardens with a work force of more than 2 million accounting for 80% of production and 150,000 small growers accounting for the balance 20% production, though over 70% of the tea is consumed within India itself. In 2007, the total area covered under tea in India was 567,999 ha which has increased to 568,000 ha in the year 2008.

Some of the places where tea are produced in India are Assam, Darjeeling, Dooars & Terai , Kangra, Nilgiri, Anamallais,  Wayanad, Karnataka, Munnar, & Travancore.


Assam is the single largest tea growing region in the world. It contributes more than half of total countries tea production. Assam is rich in nature bounty and has tea growing at elevations ranging from 45 meters to 60 meters. Rainfall ranges from 2500 to 3000 mm per year. The total area covered under tea in Assam is 312,000 ha and produces 502 m kgs of tea per year. Assam Tea has a rich, deep amber colour and is famous for its rich, full bodied cup. It is known for its brisk, strong and malty character. The distinctive second flush orthodox Assam teas are valued for their rich taste and bright liquors and are considered to be one of the choicest teas in the world.


Situated in South India, this picturesque range of undulating hills has tea growing at elevations ranging from 1000 meters to 2634 meters. Rainfall varies from 100 to 1500 mm annually. The total area covered under tea in Nilgiri is 48,000 ha and produces 92 m kgs of tea per year. These conditions favour a deliciously fragrant and exquisitely aromatic tea, with high tones of delicate floral and golden yellow liquor.


The tea plantations in Kerala are a beautiful sight as the green tea bushes cover the gentile hill slopes and form a green mantle over the surface of the hills. Set at an altitude of 6000 ft in Idukki district. It has tea growing at elevations ranging from 950 meters to 2600 meters and Rainfall varies from 1300 to 7000 mm annually. The total area covered under tea in Munnar is 13590 ha and produces 27 m kgs of tea per year. The tea produced here has clean and medium toned fragrance of sweet biscuit in a dip malt. Liquor of golden yellow with an orange depth and round cup. Strong bodied with lively briskness, a touch of fruit and startlingly lingering note of sweetness in the finish.

The Indian tea industry has grown to own many global tea brands and has evolved to one of the most technologically equipped tea industries in the world. Tea production, certification, exportation, and all other facets of the tea trade in India is controlled by the Tea board of India.


The annual production of the tea in the world is about 20 million tons. The most of the production of tea and the largest areas under tea planting belongs to India and China. Tea production in India is about 750,000 tones and in China it is about 1186500 tons. The tea production in Kenya is about 315,000 tons. In Japan, in spite of limited areas of about 50,000 hectares the amount of production is about 90000 tons.

A lot of tea is consumed in British countries such as Ireland and United Kingdom, and also in the countries where tea is produced. In USA and European countries, the consumption of tea is lower than that of coffee.


Particulars 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
PRODUCTION (million Kg) 981.8 986.4 980.8 979 966.4 988.3



Indian tea export has been an important foreign exchange earner for the country. Unlike most other tea producing and exporting countries, India has dual manufacturing base. India produces both CTC and Orthodox teas in addition to green tea. The weightage lies with the former due to domestic consumers’ preference. Orthodox tea production is balanced basically with the export demand. Production of green tea in India is small.

India has lost its leading position in tea exports over the last 20 years due to failure in facing the competition in International market because of which exports of tea has been reduced. The competitors to India in tea export are Sri Lanka, Kenya, China, Indonesia and Vietnam. While India is facing competition from Sri Lanka and Indonesia with regard to export of orthodox teas and from China with regard to green tea export, it is facing competition from Kenya and from other African countries in exporting CTC teas.

2006 218.7  91.73
2007 178.7 101.29
2008 203.1 117.81
2009 197.9 140.77
2010 222 137.75
2011 192.8 147.36



The continuous fall in prices of tea, coupled with high cost of production has adversely affected the economy of the tea plantations resulting in some tea gardens being abandoned or under lock out in various states. The teas being imported are not necessarily inferior teas and the practice of blending with Indian teas often serves the purpose of providing teas as per customers choice and making them price-competitive in international markets.

2006 23.81 50.15
2007 15.98 65.43
2008 20.27 79.90
2009 25.46 84.23
2010 20.04 92.26
2011 18.60 92.84


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