India’s commercial tea empire began when the British started cultivating tea there in the late 1700s. It came as a result of Sir Joseph Banks, the English botanist, who, in 1776, recommended that tea cultivation would be suited to the Indian climate.
The British initially planted tea seeds from China, but this was largely unsuccessful as the plants struggled in the intense heat. Later, in the early 1800s, native tea bushes were discovered to be growing wild in Upper Brahmaputra Valley in India. Seeds from these plants were then cultivated and in 1838, the first twelve chests of tea made from the indigenous Assam leaf were shipped to London and sold at auction in London.
Following the commercial success of growing in Brahmaputra valley, Assam, further plantations sprung up across India. By 1863, almost 80 plantations had been established in Kumaon, Dehra Dun, Garhwal, Kangra Valley, Kulu and Darjeeling. Just two decades later, India was exporting 35,274 tons every year.
Every drop of tea in your cup at Chaii is carefully selected from up to 13,000 tea gardens in India.