Tea has been cultivated and celebrated in China for centuries. It was only in 1823, that a Scottish solder and explorer, discovered indigenous tea bushes in India. At the time, India was a colony under British rule and efforts were being made to compete with China’s monopoly on tea. This native plant discovery helped propel the East India Tea Company toward their goal. The plant was officially classified and named Camellia sinensis var. assamica. In 1839, The Assam Tea Company became the first to cultivate and sell the tea, and business expanded as the Indian subcontinent became another source of tea in the world.
British tea traders began to introduce Assam to the British public at London tea auctions with much success. In 1850, the British showcased their own Assam tea at the Great Exhibition. Assam tea production grew rapidly under British colonial rule, and then developed further as India became independent. Today, it continues to be one of the most esteemed tea districts in the world.
Today Assam is the world’s largest tea producing area, closely followed by Kenya, the most important tea growing country in Africa.