Assam Tea History

The legendary origin of tea tells a story of how the tea culture began 5,000 years ago in ancient China. If this legend is be believed, the great Shen Nong, an emperor and skilled ruler, patron of art and a creative scientist was the one who discovered tea for the first time. It was his cautious diktats that said all water meant for drinking be boiled as hygienic precaution. Travelling to a distant region on a summer day, Shen Nong stopped for some rest with his court. His humble servants, in compliance with his rulings, soon began boiling water. It was then, that some dried leaves fell into this pot of boiling water from a nearby bush, giving rise to a brownish coloured liquid of leaves infused with hot water. The Emperor, known to be a scientist, was obviously intrigues by the sight of this ‘new’ liquid and so he drank some, only to find it extremely refreshing. According to the legend, this was how tea came into being. However, the teas of China were a green tea, a drink that is now world famous.

But for us Indians, tea is a quintessential milky drink that starts our day. And for most of us, tea is synonymous with Assam tea. Let us find out today where and how Assam tea, the most popular tea in India, came in to being. Its story is worth knowing, just as stimulating as the cup of morning tea you cannot seem to do without.

The Journey of Assam Tea

There is a recurring majestic myth that says Assam tea owes its discovery to Robert Bruce, a Scottish gentleman who noticed Assam tea plants growing wild near Rangpur, in the hills, way back in 1823 when he was on a trading mission. Bruce was reportedly directed by Maniram Dewan to Bessa Gam who was the local Singpho chief. He showed Bruce how local tribesmen (known as the Singhpos) brew tea from leaves of this bush. Bruce made an arrangement with the tribal chief to give him samples of these tea leaves with seeds, as he planned on having them scientifically examined. As luck would have it, Robert Bruce passed away a few years later, never having seen this plant being properly classified.

In early 1830, Robert Bruce’s brother, Charles, sent a few of these leaves to a botanical garden in Calcutta to be properly examination and it was then that this plant was officially classified as a tea variety. It is said that these leaves were classified as belonging to the same specie as china tea plants.

The first company that was set up for making and growing this tea was called the Assam Tea Company and started in the year 1839. In the coming years, Assam Tea kept spreading its realm and by 1862, the Assam Tea business comprised of over 160 gardens all owned by 5 public companies along with 57 private players. It was later that the government decided to appoint a special commission for enquiring about every aspect of this company. Today, Assam Tea generates huge revenue amounts and is one of the most favoured tea in the country.

Bristish East India Company’s intervention was recognised through ‘experts’ who constituted the 1834 Tea Committee and they assessed the commercial potential and scientific nature of the Assam tea. By late 1830s, market for the Assam Tea began to be evaluated in London and the East India Company’s positive feedback led to the inauguration of a lengthy process of withdrawal of agricultural lands and forests to allow significant shares of this province to be converted to tea plantations by the private capital.

Assam and its love for tea

Assam is famous all across the globe for its natural beauty, tea plantations and the quality of Assam tea. The mountain region, pleasant climate and greenery of this place make it a location to remember. In fact, Assam was the place where Indian Tea originated over 165 years ago. It is currently one of the most coveted Tea production spot in the world. The two sides of the famous Brahmaputra River are home to the world’s biggest Tea growing region. This area produces more than 400 million kilograms of Tea every year and the beautifully breath-taking tea estates in Assam cover over 2,16,200 hectare of land. Home to more than a hundred tea estates, Assam offers every tea lover malty flavoured and full bodied Assam Tea, the bright liquor which will surely be loved by a tea addict.

Production of Assam Tea

Production and cultivation of Assam tea was dominated by Assam Company for the 1st two decades (from 1840 to 1860), which operated from districts in Upper Assam using labour from local Kachari. The company’s success along with changes in the colonial policies of offering plots to tea planters (by the Fee simple rule) led to the expansion and boom in Assam tea’s industry during early 1860s.

Tea plants are grown in Assam lowlands, unlike Nilgiris and Darjeelings, which grow on the highlands. Assam tea bushes grow in lowland regions, like the Valley of Brahmaputra River where there is clay soil and rich nutrients from the floodplain. Climate in this region varies between hot/humid to cool/arid winter and rainy season—all conditions perfect for growing Assam tea.

Assam Tea As We Know It: Great taste with every sip

The Assam Tea is a malty and brisk tea, bright in colour and packed with that perfect punch of fruitiness. This tea is black and is manufactured specially from Camellia sinensis var. assamica plant. Famous for its briskness, body, bright colour and strong malty flavour, Assam Tea India and other blends containing this tea, are sold as a ‘breakfast’ tea. The Irish version of breakfast tea is a bit more malty and is a stronger tea, consisting of the best Assam tea in a small quantity.

Assam Tea owes its exclusive malty taste to the regions tropical climate, where temperatures rise to 40OC/103oF during the day, creating a greenhouse-like effect with extreme heat and humidity.

Did you know?

Because of generous rainfall and the lengthy tea growing season, Assam is amongst the most fertile tea-generating regions across the globe. Each year, these tea estates in Assam jointly yield approximately 680,400 kilograms or 1.5 million pounds of tea.

The harvesting of Assam tea is generally done twice each year, known as the ‘first flush’, followed by the ‘second flush’. First flush picks up late March and goes on till late May, whereas second flush, which is harvested later, is plucked in June and has been considered as producing more esteemed “tippy tea”. The tippy tea from the second flush has a fuller body and is sweeter, therefore considered as superior to first flush generation.

Even though the Assam tea leaves may look black when packed, leaves of Assam tea bushes are glossy and have a dark green colour. These bushes produce delicate white coloured blossoms, adding to the beauty of a tea plantation. If all this talk of Assam tea has you longing for a cup brewed from the freshest, finest and aromatic of leaves.

Nowhere around the globe has tea been grown as much as it is grown in Assam, the major tea estates being Ambika, Amguri, Gogaidubi, Jamirah, Wiliamson Tea Estate, Tata Group of Companies tea estates and Talap.

For more information or to SHOP ONLINE for different kinds of Teas: Visit – Teabox

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“Tea” in Different Languages

Every country has a favourite drink. The Russians have their Vodka, the French their Wine, the Germans their Beer, Turkey has Coffee and we Indians have our Chai, or tea. The Indian Chai or the Chai tea is actually famous the world over; anywhere you travel in Asia, Europe and USA, you are bound to find a cup of hot, freshly brewed black tea that has been sweetened with sugar and milk and brought to that perfect boil. From Indian ginger tea to Indian spiced tea, you will find many variants to sample, having captured the essence of the finest of tea blends from the Indian subcontinent.

But if you are a globe trotter, we bet you have wondered many a times how to say “tea” in other languages….and we’re sure you have actually added quite a few new words to your Tea-tionary. So here is an article that will get your brain cells working a little extra hard to master some new terms you didn’t know, making the experience of enjoying your favourite cuppa, a pleasure.

Tea Culture

Cha, tea, cutting, chai, masala chai, ginger tea – you know it by many names here in India. It’s the world’s most relaxing and soothing drink; unlike coffee that gets your blood racing and puts you in high gear, tea will soothe and calm the mind. Enjoyed for generations, tea has become the world’s second most favourite drink after water, and beats coffee hands down. With its many varieties, blends and scrumptious flavours, tea has won the hearts of people across the globe because it is not only a treat for the senses, but also comes with many health benefits. Every country, every culture and every region has its own unique way for preparing a calming cup and they all seem to give it a new name – each fit and worthy of being memorized if you are a real tea enthusiast.

For the true tea aficionado, who likes to travel the world in their quest to sample the finest and rarest of tea, here is a closer look at the language of TEA.

The Language of Tea

Tea originated in China, so it goes without saying that the first words used to describe tea were Chinese as well. The character used for tea in authentic Chinese is , but it may be pronounced differently in different parts of China. Most words for ‘tea’ in languages all over the world have a Chinese influence to them, but what varies is the route this word took to reach that part of the world. Dutch traders adopted the word for ‘tea’ as thee, while the Malay/Indonesian and Javanese call it teh.

If you are ever in China and wish for a cup, the Mandarin word is ‘Cha’, but it’s also pronounced ‘Te’ in Southeast Asia and the Central Coast of China.

Now here are the interesting details about these words – Te, came from Taiwan and the Fujian Province, from the Amoy tê. The word travelled from there to the West through the port of Xiamen through Western European Traders and came to be known as ‘Tea’ universally. Now Cha is the Cantonese version and was the term used in ports of Macau and Hong Kong, other major trading areas, especially in the 16th century with the Portuguese traders. It’s these very same Portuguese traders who brought the samples and the word for it to India, where Cha becameChai. It was also picked up by the Persians and they added to it their own grammatical suffix –yi, and then passed on the word to become a part of many other languages like Urdu, Turkish, Russian and Arabic.

But languages that are more closely related to Chinese, for example Tibetan, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean and Zhuang probably picked up the term for tea long before these new-age terms were coined. That’s why in these countries, the pronunciation for tea still retains the terms ‘da’ and ‘ta’ from the Tang dynasty court.

Today ‘Tea’ is a universal term and while you may find a cup of tea anywhere in the world without really having to use the local term, it’s interesting to note that a large number of languages use native denominations, especially areas where the tea plant may grow locally. Keep in mind, in some languages the local word for tea might not really be to describe the tea leaves or the simple tea infusion, but the local infusion they make with their own cultural additives for the final drink.

Tea Lingo for the tea-aholics

If you are going to be travelling abroad and want to make sure you know exactly how to ask for a cup without having to open a tourist dictionary, here is how you say the word ‘Tea’ in other languages.

  • French: le thé
  • Swedish – te
  • Finnish – tee
  • Italian – tè
  • Danish – Te or The
  • Greek – τσάι (tsai)
  • Malay – teh
  • Portuguese – cha ((pronounced ‘shah’)
  • Chinese – t’e, or ch’a
  • Persian – chaai
  • India – Chai
  • Korean – cha
  • Russian – chay
  • Arabic: chai or shai
  • Bulgarian: chai
  • Croatian: caj (pronounced chai)
  • Dutch: thee
  • English: tea
  • Afrikaans: tee
  • German: der Tee
  • Hebrew: teh
  • Hungarian: tea
  • Irish: tae
  • Indonesian: teh
  • Japanese: o-cha
  • Korean: cha
  • Latvian: teja (pronounced tay-ya)
  • Malay: teh
  • Maltese: te
  • Norwegian: te
  • Polish: herbata
  • Romanian: ceai
  • Sinhalese (Sri Lanka): thé
  • Spanish: el té
  • Swahili: chai (pronounced cha-i)
  • Taiwanese: de
  • Thai: chah (chah yen refers to iced tea)
  • Tibetan: cha or ja
  • Turkish: cay (pronounced chai)
  • Urdu: chai
  • (North) Vietnamese: che
  • (South) Vietnamese: tra (sometimes pronounced cha or ja)
  • Yiddish: tey
  • Zulu: itiye

Pronunciations of “Tea” around the world

The pronunciation for tea also varies across the globe, reflecting again on the course tea took to reach that particular country through China. Etymology is indeed every bit as part of tea history and culture! If the above mentioned list has your mind reeling, what can be a welcome relief is that some of the terms that can get you a hot cup of your favourite beverage anywhere in the world seem to be –Cha, Chai, Tea, Té and Te.
Cha: Used in Cantonese, Tibetan, Korean, Sinhalese and even Bengali. A little variation with pronunciation, where the ‘a’ takes a rising tone or become ‘shah’ will also be the perfect way to say tea in Somali, North Vietnamese, South Vietnamese and Thai.

Chai: Apart from Hindi, there are many others languages that use ‘chai’ or a similar sounding word for the world’s favourite beverage, even though the written spellings might all be different. These are Arabic, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Russian, Persian, Slovenian, Turkish, Slovak, Ukrainian, Greek, Romanian, Swahili, Serbian, Czech, Croatian, Wolof and Urdu.

Tea: The universally understood word for tea, the many variations in spellings might change from country to country but the pronunciation doesn’t vary much (will adopt local accent though). The same word will fetch you a hot cup when spoken in Hungarian, Basque, Afrikaans, Finnish, Dutch, Esperanto, and German apart from English of course.

Té: Sounds much like tea, but this is the term to use should you be speakingFrench,
Irish, Latvian, Galician, Catalan, Haitian Creole, Luxembourgish, Spanish and Yiddish.

Te: Some languages that use the TE without the accent above are Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, Icelandic, Armenian, Maltese, Malay, Hebrew, Indonesian and Welsh.

Many names for our beloved Chai in India too

While you will find a hot cuppa anywhere in India if you use the term ‘Chai’, the word ‘Masala Chai’ has what made the Indian Chai famous the world over. Even in India, you will find that different states, cultures and castes might have their own name for tea! The Bengalis call is Cha, the Gujratis call it Chiya, and in Kannada it’s called Chaha while in Malayalam it’s called Chaya. In Oriya its Cha, in Tamil its Theneer, in Telugu its ṭī while in Nepali its Cheeya.

That’s how vast the vocabulary of tea really is!

And if you are going to be travelling abroad, you might as well sample some of the finest teas from the region to pick your favourite in advance, simply by ordering a small pack online at this amazing tea store!

For more information or to SHOP ONLINE for different kinds of Teas: Visit – Teabox

Green Tea – How is it produced?

There are many people worldwide who love to start a new day with a cup of fresh tea and also like to enjoy a cup at the end of the day. In fact for many tea connoisseurs, their very life is intimately linked with this refreshing, soothing and relaxing beverage. Of all the kinds of teas in the world, Black tea may be the most consumed, but it is Green tea that is the most coveted and most popular. If you too are a true blue Green tea fan, this article will shed more light on this tea variety by telling you what sets Green tea apart from others and why this tea variety has managed to touch the chords of your heart as well as your palate like none other.

Green Tea: A Health Drink A cup of freshly brewed tea at the beginning of a brand new day is indeed a good way to start out the day; it can energize the mind and body to take on the challenges of a new day most efficiently, while a drink of tea after dinner is also a good habit because tea can bring about changes in the brain chemicals, lowering the level of stress from a long and lousy day, helping a person to sleep soundly. Tea has multiple health benefits and according to scientific researches the healthiest tea of all is Green Tea. It’s rich in health boosting antioxidants and flavonoids. So if you are looking for a health drink to relax your frayed nerves, calm your mind and body and help you relax, this is definitely the right choice for you.

Green Tea: A Drink that connects you to Nature Many hardcore tea fans love their first morning tea to be served in bed, while others like to enjoy their cup of morning tea gazing at the rising sun, enjoying the cool morning breeze. A cup of fresh fuming Green tea with its characteristic vegetative flavour and golden liquor is in perfect harmony with the green nature around. The finest Green teas are handpicked in the spring time in its home country China and also in Japan. The natural green colour of the Green tea is retained due to the fact that this is a Zero fermentation tea. Though China is the birth land of Green tea, in the recent times various forms of green tea from India, like Darjeeling green tea, Assam Green tea, Kangra Green tea etc have also proved to be an awesome delight for the tea lovers worldwide.

Green tea production stages An avid fan of Green tea is as concerned about its production methods and stages as its purity. So let’s take a look at the basic Green tea production stages, which are what makes your favourite tea so flavourful and so refreshing.

  • Plucking: The first step in the production of Green tea is no doubt plucking of the tender tea leaves. Plucking can be done in three ways: Hand-plucking, Knife plucking and Machine Plucking. Hand-plucking again, falls into 2 categories: Single hand-plucking & Double hand-plucking. Machine Plucking is the fastest plucking method of all three.
  • Heating/Shaqing: This stage is one of the most vital stages in the production of Green tea. Green tea leaves should not undergo oxidation or fermentation, otherwise it will turn to Black tea and this heating stage readily arrests the oxidation process in the leaves. The leaves can be dry heated in an oven/wok or the workers may even make the leaves pass through a Special machine called the Shaqing machine in which the leaves are exposed to a hot steam with temperatures ranging from 75 centigrade to 80 centigrade. ‘Shaqing’ is the Chinese term for ‘Killing of Green’. The Shaqing process removes the grassy smell from the leaves, stopping all chemical reactions of enzymatic compounds in the leaves by preventing the oxidation process. Also the moisture from the leaves is partially evaporated as a result of which the leaves are left pliable, easy to be rolled out, which is the next stage.
  • Rolling: This stage breaks the cellular structure of the tea leaves as a result of which most of the juices from the raw tea leaves ooze out and imparts green tea its characteristic flavour. However, if you want your Green tea to smell heavenly, find out exactly how many times you should steep the tea leaves from an expert because the flavour from a prepared cup of green tea depends very much on that process! Rolling is also referred to as the shaping or styling stage because it gives the dry tea leaves its final shape such as twisted leaves, flattened leaves or leaves curled into tiny shrivelled beads and so on.

As the cell walls within the tea leaves are broken down due to rolling of the leaves, the astringency and bitterness of the leaves can be lessened to a great extent. Rolling can be of two categories: Hand rolling and Machine Rolling. Tea workers do hand rolling in large frying pans called Wok in China. For Machine Rolling, semi-automatic and fully automatic rolling machines are used and they produce high quality Green tea. Rolling of green tea can be further classified in another way: Hot Rolling and Cold Rolling. Hot Rolling is the rolling of tea leaves that haven’t cooled down and are still hot because they have just completed the heating or Shaqing stage. Cold Rolling is the rolling of leaves after they have cooled down. Leaves from cold rolling are much greener because this type of rolling boosts the preservation of chlorophyll in the leaves.

  • Drying: This is the last stage in Green tea production. It not only makes the leaves devoid of all the remaining moisture but also stabilizes leaf shape, improves leaf quality, taste & aroma and extends the tea’s shelf life by reducing the risk of moulding. Drying of the leaves can be done in different ways. The 4 commonly followed methods are:
  1. Steaming: Steaming is perhaps the most primitive and traditional method of drying tea leaves which rose to popularity in Japan roughly in the era when the Tang Dynasty came to power. Even today, the steaming method is used for the drying of the leaves in the making of the Matcha Green tea in Japan. When Ming Dynasty came to power, the Steaming Method for drying started to take a back seat as it was found that the tea obtained from steaming smelled grassy and was not as full flavoured as that obtained from roasting. However, since the year 1972, steaming has again returned with a bang as China imported from Japan some very advanced steaming machines and produced some awesome green teas like Enshi Yulu, Yangixan tea that have stood the test of time.
  2. Baking: This is another method of drying tea leaves. The workers at the tea factory have to place the leaves very skilfully within a baking cage and have to bake the leaves until they are thoroughly dry. This drying method is ideal for specialty teas like Scented Jasmine Teas. Examples of two most renowned tea varietals that are dried using the baking method are Taiping Houkui and Huangshan Furry Peak.
  3. Roasting: Roasting is the most widely prevalent method of drying tea leaves. The leaves are roasted; i.e. almost fried in a large wok. This method is mainly used for producing Green tea pearls. Examples of some renowned higher grade Green tea varietals for which the roasting method is used are Bilochun, Dragon Well, Liu An Gua Pian etc.
  4. Sun-drying: This is perhaps the simplest of all green tea leaves drying method because once the leaves are left out in the sun, nature does all the work. This method is widely prevalent in the Guangxi, Yunnan, Sichuan provinces of China but this particular method is generally avoided when it comes to producing of Green teas of the higher grade.

  Some interesting facts to stimulate your brain cells: With the advancement of technology, new processing styles have come up in the recent times and the Green teas are being styled quite innovatively. Some of the different ways in which this is done are: Smooth or Round Needles, Downy Needles, Spheres or Beads, Orchids, Flattened pellets, Twisted plus Straightened, Twisted or Curled. The fashion of using tea bags have become very popular amongst the modern day tea connoisseurs and today a variety of flavoured green tea bags are available in the market to make a quick cup of aromatic & highly delectable green tea. Many of these green tea bags contain stunning fruity green tea blends such as raspberry flavour, cherry flavour, orange flavour, lime flavour etc.

For more information or to SHOP ONLINE for different kinds of Teas: Visit – Teabox