India is widely known for its tea culture, and it is among the largest producer of tea in the world. It is the 2nd largest producer of the tea in the world after China. The country features a varied range of tea varieties, each with its unique characteristics, aroma and flavours. From the misty Assam valleys to the lush green mountains of Darjeeling, tea production thrives across eastern and southern India.
In this blog, we will provide the details about the prospects of tea production in India, major tea producing states in India, highlighting their contributions to the nation's tea industry and the distinct flavours they offer.
The tea production in India in 2023 (Jan – Mar 2023) is roughly 1373 million kgs. The production of tea is mostly done in the northern parts of India. North India is the biggest producer, as it produces around 83% of the total tea production of the country. In absolute terms, between Jan and March 2023, North India produced approximately 1148 million kgs.
On the other hand, South India produced approximately 226 million kgs accounting for 17 per cent of the total tea production of the country.
The best tea in India is found in Assam Valley and Cachar hills of Assam. It is the largest tea producing state in India, as it alone produces roughly 697 million kg of total tea production. It was followed by West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka.
For Indians, nothing is better than waking up in the morning and having a cup of tea of their favourite flavour. That is the reason around 80% of the tea produced in India is consumed within the country itself.
In India, three types of tea are produced. These are Assam tea, Darjeeling tea, and Nilgiri tea. Assam tea is of the highest quality.
Darjeeling tea is of superior quality and is also known as ‘Champagne of tea’ because of its flowery scent. Due to this, it has also received a GI tag. The other two variants, white tea and green tea, have also received GI tags.
The last type is Nilgiri tea which is known for its subtle and gentle flavours.
Tea plantation in India requires specific conditions and careful cultivation practices to ensure the optimal growth and quality of tea leaves. Here are the key requirements for tea production in India:
Tea plants bloom in regions with tropical to subtropical climates. The suitable temperature range for tea cultivation is between 15°C and 30°C. The presence of mist, fog, and adequate rainfall is essential for tea plants to grow well. Different tea producing states in India have exclusive microclimates that contribute to the unique flavours of their teas.
The altitude at which tea is grown influences the flavour and quality of the leaves. High-altitude regions, such as Darjeeling and the Nilgiris, produce teas with delicate and nuanced flavours. Lower-altitude areas, like Assam and parts of West Bengal, yield teas with bolder and stronger flavours.
Tea plants require well-drained and acidic soil for optimal growth. The soil should be rich in nutrients and have good water-holding capacity. The presence of minerals like potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen is crucial for healthy tea bushes.
Adequate rainfall is crucial for tea cultivation. The ideal annual rainfall for tea production ranges from 1500 to 2500 millimetres. Rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year promotes consistent growth and helps maintain the moisture levels necessary for tea plants.
Tea plants require ample sunlight for photosynthesis and healthy growth. However, some shade is also beneficial, especially in high-altitude regions, to protect the plants from excessive heat and to maintain the delicate flavours of the tea leaves.
Tea bushes are typically propagated from seeds or cuttings. They are planted in rows, allowing sufficient space for proper airflow and ease of maintenance. Regular pruning, plucking of tea leaves, and weed control are essential cultivation practices.
Tea leaves are plucked at different stages of growth to produce various types of tea. For example, young and tender leaves are plucked for premium teas like Darjeeling first flush, while a combination of mature and young leaves is used for Assam and CTC teas.
After plucking, tea leaves undergo various processing steps, including withering, rolling, oxidation, and drying, which further results in the development of the desired flavours and aromas.
Pest and Disease Management
Disease management and Effective pest practices are crucial for tea production. Common pests in tea gardens include aphids, caterpillars, and mites, while diseases like blight and rot can affect tea bushes. Integrated pest management techniques and regular monitoring are employed to minimise damage and maintain healthy plants.
Tea cultivation requires a significant labour force for tasks such as plucking, pruning, and processing. Skilled workers are essential to ensure proper handling and care of tea leaves.
By fulfilling these requirements and implementing appropriate cultivation and processing techniques, India has become a global leader in tea production, offering various flavours and varieties that cater to diverse consumer preferences.
In this part, we are going to discuss where tea is grown in India. To learn the major tea producing states in India, go through the below points.
It is known as the "Land of Tea Gardens," Assam is the largest tea producing state in India. The region's fertile plains, abundant rainfall, and unique terroir create the perfect conditions for growing robust and malty Assam tea. Assam teas are known for their bold flavour, rich colour, and strong aroma.
West Bengal is famous for its high-quality Darjeeling tea. Grown in the picturesque Darjeeling hills, this tea is renowned for its exquisite flavour, floral aroma, and muscatel notes. Darjeeling tea is usually called the "Champagne of Teas" and is highly sought after by tea connoisseurs worldwide.
Tamil Nadu is home to the Nilgiri tea region, located in the scenic Nilgiri Hills. Nilgiri tea is known for its bright liquor, brisk flavour, and fragrant aroma. The tea gardens of Nilgiri produce a large quantity of tea, including both orthodox and CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) varieties.
Kerala, the "God's Own Country," contributes significantly to India's tea production. The tea gardens in the high ranges of Munnar and Wayanad produce teas with a distinct flavour profile, characterised by a delicate taste and golden liquor.
Karnataka's tea plantations are primarily concentrated in the regions of Kodagu (Coorg) and Chikmagalur. The teas from these regions have a robust flavour, briskness, and a unique earthy character. The coffee-growing regions of Karnataka have also embraced tea cultivation in recent years.
Himachal Pradesh is known for its Kangra tea, cultivated in the Kangra Valley. Kangra tea has a unique character with a mild and subtle flavour, floral aroma, and bright golden liquor. The cool climate and hilly terrain contribute to the tea's distinct taste.
Uttarakhand, situated in the foothills of the Himalayas, produces tea in regions like Kumaon and Garhwal. In fact, the first sapling of tea in India was sown by Britishers in Saharanpur near Kumaon. The tea from this region is known for its delicate flavour, light body, and pleasant aroma. Uttarakhand's tea gardens benefit from the cool climate and high-altitude locations.
Sikkim, nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, is known for its organic tea production. The state's tea gardens produce high-quality teas with distinct floral and muscatel flavours. Sikkim's pristine environment and sustainable farming practices contribute to the exceptional quality of its teas.
Meghalaya, in northeastern India, has emerged as a prominent tea-producing state. The tea gardens in Meghalaya produce teas with a mild and mellow flavour, often with a hint of sweetness. The state's unique climate and fertile soil contribute to the distinctive characteristics of its teas.
Arunachal Pradesh, located in northeastern India, has emerged as a promising region for tea production. The state's unique climate, fertile soil, and favourable topography provide promising conditions for tea cultivation. The tea gardens in Arunachal Pradesh are mainly situated in areas such as Changlang, East Siang, Lohit, and Tirap districts. The region's perfect environment, abundant rainfall, and cool temperatures contribute to the development of teas with exceptional characteristics.
There are many popular tea brands in India. Some of the top tea brands in India are:
So, it was all about tea plantation in India. We hope that we are able to provide all the information regarding tea plantation and major tea producing states in India. If you want to learn more, explore Tractorkarvan anytime.
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