Tea Tourism in North-East India
Come, lets have some tea and then talk about happy times!
Yes, my happy times are whenever I share my solo travel experiences with all of you. And I’m sure if you are someone who loves to read then you can’t really get along without the refreshing sip of a tea. Ah! Reminds me about yet another interesting facet of North-East India- Tea Tourism!
“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.”
Such is the trip to land of north-east india, it always makes you feel warm, cool, cheerful, calm, nostalgic, and excited, all at the same time. And I hope you wouldn’t want to miss the fact that how and why I am relating tea with North-East India.
We Indians are mad about tea and for many their day starts with tea. But, do you know where tea was first discovered in India? Tea was first found in Assam in the year 1828 by two British travellers Robert and Charles Bruce.
Nevertheless, apart from its spellbound natural beauty, North-East India is also known for its tea gardens and estates. The North East India tea belt starts from Darjeeling, Dooars and Terai extending to Assam and beyond. The region of Dooars lies in the Himalayan foothills. One can find rich tropical forests with varied hill streams amidst a green carpet of tea gardens there. The total production of tea is approximately 216 million kg in Dooars. Do you know the economy of Dooars centres around the 3Ts i.e Tea, Tourism and Timber?
Another significant place of tea cultivation in the North East India is Darjeeling. It is known to grow one of the most exclusive varieties of tea in the world. The tea from Darjeeling is amber coloured and comes with a delicate flavour referred to as ‘muscatel’. Darjeeling has a total of 17,820 ha of tea cultivation producing approximately 9.8 million kg. Also, you will be surprised to know that Assam is the single largest tea growing region in the world as it grows in 3,12,210 ha area with production capacity of 507 million kg.
Sikkim too is well known for its solo tea garden-Temi Tea Garden, which was established in 1969 by the Government of Sikkim. It covers an area of 440 acres and the tea produced here enjoys international repute as it is sold at premium prices in world auctions.
Assam Tea Vs Darjeeling Tea Vs Sikkim Tea
In India there are mainly three regions for tea production. And, two of them lies in the north-east namely Assam and Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is considered as one of the most esteemed tea growing regions of the world. There are more than 80 tea gardens that covers miles of acres with tea plantation. Often termed as the “champagne of teas”, it has a special muscatel flavour. Teas from this region often smell and taste like the Muscat grape. The dry leaves are available in various processed form that reveal colours like, green, black, gold and white. Moreover, the leaves are tender and fragile compared to other teas.
On the other hand, the warm climate, loamy soil and the intensive rainfall together make Assam a productive tea producer. Currently, there are about 800 tea estates in Assam.
When compared to the tea from Assam, tea from Darjeeling is high in quality, taste, aroma and flavour. Darjeeling tea’s lighter texture and aroma makes it a perfect beverage when drunk simply without milk or cream. This tea plant thrives only in warm climate and sunny conditions and hence, it produces tea only in a few months of the year. The tea leaves are glossier and darker in colour when processed. The flavour infused by the tea is bold and rich in taste.
Apart from Darjeeling tea and Assam tea, Sikkim tea is gaining popularity too. Recently the Institute of Marketology (IMO) of Switzerland has certified Sikkim’s only tea garden as organic and hence the quality and demand of this certified product has been drastically increased.
What do you mean by Tea Tourism?
When we talk about travel and tourism industry in India specifically, the concept of tea tourism is pretty much a new concept and people somehow still can’t relate to it. It’s an interesting concept where a tourist can experience history, culture and traditions related to the tea consumption. And therefore, have a wonderful recreational experience throughout. For a unique north-east tour experience, tourists can indulge in sightseeing at the tea gardens and learn about the process of tea plucking or can even know about the cultural festivals of the tea tribes during their stay at the luxurious tea bungalows.
How about attending Assam Tea Festival coming up in the month of November which focuses on promoting tea tourism among the tourists.
Homestay Experience in Tea Estates
You are already familiar with the concept of homestays in north-east india promoting eco-tourism by providing ample homestay options to its travellers. And trust me, this one is the best among all. Imagine choosing to stay amidst the large tea estates with an exceptional lush green landscape view and waking up to the songs of the birds and the irresistible these stays aroma of the famous Assam tea! Isn’t the thought itself too satisfying and magical? While homestays in tea estates aren’t quite much like 4 or 5-star hotels, you must book this tea garden trip to North-East for a mesmerised homely and serene experience.
Most of the Tea Tourism plans allow travelers to stay inside the Tea Garden in Tea Bungalows. Most of these bungalows were constructed during the British era and are influenced by the Victorian and Gothic architecture. You will be surprised to know that many of these Tea Bungalows are more than a century old and staying in these antique bungalows itself can be an enticing north east india experience.