Tea Gardens Of Assam – Places To Visit In Assam

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Fresh light green colored tea leaf at Tea Gardens of Assam
Fresh light green colored tea leaf

Tea Garden – Places to visit in Assam.

Tea gardens carry a very colonial image in my mind. British guys running the Tea estates, living in huge bungalows within the estate. A tea processing and packaging unit and a whole lot of workers plucking the tea gardens with bamboo baskets on their back. To be an owner of a Tea Estate has always been aspirational for people. I think it still continues to be though the corporations rather than individuals now own most estates. North East part of India, particularly eastern Assam and area around Darjeeling produce more than 20% of world’s tea. And it may not be wrong to call them the teaspoon of the world. I had seen tea gardens earlier during my Kerala and Sri Lanka holidays.

But tea gardens of Assam is what I had studied in school and in my mind, I had to visit them to know about them. Tea gardens here provide cups of tea to the world on one hand. Employment and livelihood to many people on the other hand.

Plucking the leaf at the Tea Gardens of Assam
Plucking the leaf at the Tea Gardens of Assam

Harvesting the Leaf.

Every tea garden is constantly being plucked for the fresh light green colored leaves on top of the plant. To be precise two leaves and a bud is plucked together for the best tea. An average worker can pluck anywhere between 60 -80 kgs of leaves per day and gets paid about 2-3 Rs per kg. A basket can carry about 5 kgs of tea leaves and the leaves are weighed several times a day. They usually start their work early morning with the sun and work till it goes down, with one lunch break and two tea breaks. An area is assigned to a group of workers by their supervisor every morning based on the sprouting of leaves. Yes, they work in a very organized manner even though they are not employed. And get paid for precisely the amount of work they do.

Most of the labor force comes from the states of Bihar and UP who have now settled down around these Tea estates. It was a pleasure to see them leaving in groups one evening, tired but looking forward to being back home.

Workers at the Tea Gardens of Assam
Workers at the Tea Gardens of Assam

Green Carpet – Tea Gardens.

I love the sight of tea gardens though the atmosphere around them is always hot and humid making it difficult to stand there for too long. The acres and acres of land covered with tea plantations as if the earth was covered with thick green carpet. The tall trees standing in between them to provide shade to both the tea plants and to the workers working on them. Sometimes the vines of spice plants are wrapped around these tall trees, giving you multiple shades of green in one go. The narrow lanes left for the leaves collectors to walk around look like some abstract design. When the gardens are on a slope, they make the hillock look like women wearing a garment with heavy green embroidery.

tea gardens of Assam landscape view
Tea Gardens

Assam Tea Gardens.

We saw tea gardens in Tezpur, around Kaziranga and in Jorhat. Tezpur was not on our itinerary but we landed here as the road to Arunachal was closed. There was no way we would be allowed to go there before next day. This heritage property located in the midst of a tea estate had bungalows that were more than 100 years old. But maintained as if they have always been inhabited.

Tea Research Institute, Tocklai, Jorhat.

Our tea sojourn could not have been complete without a visit to Tocklai in Jorhat, which is the world’s largest tea research institute. And does research on all aspects of tea, right from the soil that it grows into the way it is packaged and sold. It also comes out with new varieties of tea and new systems, methods, and processes for processing the tea. Tocklai campus is beautiful, with some ponds full of lotus and lilies and numerous tall and small trees dotted with seasonal flowers. We could not see the tea museum as it was a holiday, but the campus itself was pleasing.

Tea Research Institute at Assam
Tea Research Institute

The last sight of tea gardens was through the train window while traveling from Jorhat to Guwahati. I think I will appreciate my cup of tea much more now that I have seen the hard work that goes into it…

Recommend you to read following places to visit in Assam on this Travel Blog.

  1. Home to Single Horned Rhinos – Kaziranga National Park.
  2. Sibasagar – temple town of Assam.
  3. River Island of Majuli.
  4. Nameri National Park & Tiger Reserve.
  5. Guwahati – Gateway to the North East India.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Anuradha, I love traveling around India and your narration of your experiences are great. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the details. Cheers

  2. Thanks for sharing this post, Anuradha. Thought I would bring to your notice that the cultivar of tea grown in Assam and the one grown in Darjeeling are two distinct varieties.

    Tea was originally found only in China, hence the name Camelia Sinensis (sinensis – of China), and for a long time, it was believed that it can neither be found anywhere else, nor grown anywhere else. This was in spite of the British trying desperately to “spy” and “smuggle” out the tea plant. Tea became a luxury item and a Chinese monopoly and a closely guarded secret. The symbolic Boston tea party actually was quite expensive.

    In 1823, the British colonialists discovered another (the second and only other) variant of tea growing in the hills of Assam, and that is how the story of Assam tea began. This cultivar is called Camelia Sinensis var. Assamica. This is the largest producing region of tea in the world, and contributes to what is commonly called the Breakfast teas, strong bodied, malty and rich in color.

    The story of Darjeeling tea is a different one. The Chinese had been guarding its tea trees and seeds and processing methods, and the British had been struggling to get the smuggled seeds to grow anywhere because of soil and climate.

    In 1841, Archibald Campbell, managed to make them grow in the hills of Darjeeling. Over the next decades, they found something amazing. The altitude (Darjeeling is higher than many mountainous tea growing regions of China), the soil and the precipitation resulted in a grade of tea that was distinct from Chinese tea.

    Forgive me for ranting, but tea is a complex plant. Its taste is determined by the land and the water and the air, and the way it is processed. Chinese teas are unique in their taste, and Assam teas are standard offerings, but Darjeeling teas offer something that no other region offers.

    What triggered this comment was a sentence in your post to the effect of “Tea is grown in Eastern Assam and areas around Darjeeling.” I felt this clubbing of the two regions needed some response. Some response, yes?

  3. Interesting story about Tea garden in Assam. We produce hand crafted whole leaf organic Green Tea in Assam and found the story really amusing.

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