Assam tea exporter
Assam Tea (Assamese: , Hindi: and also Hindi: is a black tea named after the region of its production, Assam, in India. Assam is the world's largest tea-growing region, lying on either side of the Brahmaputra River, and bordering Bangladesh and Burma (Myanmar). This part of India experiences high precipitation; during the monsoon period as much as 10 to 12 inches of rain per day. The daytime temperature rises to about 103F, creating greenhouse-like conditions of extreme humidity and heat. This tropical climate contributes to Assam's unique malty taste, a feature for which this tea is well known.
Assam tea (Assamese: Hindi: or Hindi: Hindi: ) is manufactured specifically from the plant Camellia sinensis var. assamica (Masters). This tea, most of which is grown at or near sea level, is known for its body, briskness, malty flavor, and strong, bright color. Assam teas, or blends containing Assam, are often sold as "breakfast" teas. English Breakfast tea, Irish Breakfast tea, and Scottish Breakfast Tea are common generic names.
Though "Assam Tea" generally denotes the distinctive black teas from Assam, the region produces smaller quantities of green and white teas as well with their own distinctive characteristics.
Historically, Assam is the second commercial tea production region after southern China. Southern China and Assam are the only two regions in the world with native tea plants. Assam tea revolutionized tea drinking habits in the 19th century since the tea, produced from a different variety of the tea plant, yielded a different kind of tea.
The Myth of Discovery
Further information: History of tea in India
The recurring colonial myth of "discovery" informs the history of the Assam tea bush and is attributed to one Robert Bruce, a Scottish adventurer, who apparently encountered it in the year 1823. Bruce reportedly found the plant growing "wild" in Assam while trading in the region. He noticed local tribesmen (the Singhpos) brewing tea from the leaves of the bush and arranged with the tribal chiefs to provide him with samples of the leaves and seeds, which he planned to have scientifically examined. Robert Bruce died shortly thereafter, without having seen the plant properly classified. It was not until the early 1830s that Robert‚Äs brother, Charles, arranged for a few leaves from the Assam tea bush to be sent to the botanical gardens in Calcutta for proper examination. There, the plant was finally identified as a variety of tea, or Camellia sinensis, but different from the Chinese version (Camellia sinensis var. sinensis).
East India Company and the Tea Committee
The intervention of the colonising English East India Committee was realised through a body of 'experts' constituting the Tea Committee (1834) to assess the scientific nature and commercial potential of Assam tea . The adherence of the members of the committee to the Chinese ideal (in terms of the plant and the method of manufacture) led to the importation of Chinese tea makers and Chinese tea seeds to displace the "wild" plant and methods obtained in Assam. After a period, however, a hybridized version of the Chinese and Assam tea plants proved to be more successful in the Assam climate and terrain.
The Wasteland Acts and the inauguration of Private Capital
By the late 1830s, a market for Assam tea was being assessed in London; and the positive feedback led the East India Company to inaugurate a long drawn process of dispossession of agricultural land and forest commons through the infamous 'Wasteland Acts' allowing significant portions of the province by private capital to be transformed into tea plantations. The close symbiotic relationship of the Colonial State and Plantation Capitalism through the colonial period is most succinctly captured in the term Planter-Raj.
Assam Company, Coolie labour and the Boom and fall of the 1860s
The cultivation and production of Assam tea in the first two decades (1840-1860) was monopolised by the Assam Company which operated in districts of Upper Assam and through the labour of the local Kachari labour. The success of the company and the changes in colonial policy of offering land to the tea planters (Fee simple rules) led to period of boom and expansion in the Assam tea industry in the early 1860s but it could not necessarily be translated into a dramatic shift in production (from China to Assam) due to the "makeshift" nature of plantations, poor conditions of life on plantation (huge rates of mortality and desertion) and also at times the presence of pure speculative capital with no interest in tea production.
Assam as the leading tea producing region in the late 19th century
The tea plant (Camellia sinensis var. assamica) is grown in the lowlands of Assam, unlike Darjeelings and Nilgiris which are grown in the highlands.The Assam tea bush grows in a lowland region, in the valley of the Brahmaputra River, an area of sandy soil rich with the nutrients of the floodplain. The climate varies between a cool, arid winter and a hot, humid rainy season‚Ä”conditions ideal for it. Because of its lengthy growing season and generous rainfall, Assam is one of the most prolific tea-producing regions in the world. Each year, the tea estates of Assam collectively yield approximately 1.5 million pounds (680,400 kg) of tea.
Assam tea is generally harvested twice, in a The first flush is picked during late March. The second flush, harvested later, is the more prized named thus for the gold tips that appear on the leaves. This second flush, tippy tea, is sweeter and more full-bodied and is generally considered superior to the first flush tea. The leaves of the Assam tea bush are dark green and glossy and fairly wide compared to those of the Chinese tea plant. The bush produces delicate white blossoms.