Towards the end of the 18th century, due to political changes in China and growing friction between British Traders and Chinese authorities, the East India Company was coerced to find an alternative source of Tea.

From 1774, tea seeds and plants were imported from China to India, with several attempts to harvest the same, but with extremely poor results. The reports, that the Singhpho and Khamti Tribes were acquainted with indigenous tea bush had been consuming the brew from its leaves were repeatedly ignored. In 1923, Robert Bruce (Scot) met Maniram Dutta Barua, an Assamese nobleman, who introduced him to a friendly Singhpho chief, Beesa Gam, and was shown an actual Assam Tea Bush. Unfortunately, Robert Bruce died the following year without collecting the samples, but not before passing the information to his brother, Charles Alexander Bruce.

In 1824, with the Burmese war, the British used opportunity to rally to the support of the local ruler, defeated the Burmese, and with the treaty of Yandaboo, 26 th February 1826, annexed Assam.

The fixation with Chinese tea, however, remained, though Bruce and others sent samples of the Assam Tea bush to Calcutta (Kolkata), they were not accepted as genuine tea species for quite sometime. Tea cultivation began with the China plant but experiment was failure. Finally, in 1836, Bruce dispatched a small sample of Assam Tea, which was approved as of good quality. May 1838 saw the dispatch of the first Assam Tea to London, which were auctioned in January, 1839. And, with burps, fits and starts, by 1841, Indian Tea had finally arrived.

For some time, the name Assam promptly brought out the word "Tea". Scattered across the state and getting denser a one moves east are the Tea plantation of Assa, vast seas of green. Most estates still maintain the colonial bungalows of the days of the Raj. The earlier planter however lived in hutments, with may be boxes for furniture, battling with malaria, cholera and diseases with a minimum of medical amenities. As plantation expanded to colonial luxury, with clubs and shikars.

Visit a tea garden today. Be pamperedby old world charm. Stay at Tea Garden Bungalow or Chang bungalows. Chang in the local language means "raised on stilts" and the design served a multiple purpose; to keep the house cool by allowingbreezes to blow underneath and to keep water and animals out. Get a first hand knowledge of how tea is made. Learn the art f tasting from the experts. Soak in local ambience and join in the festivity with 'Jhumur' and 'Bihu'.

The tea plantation experience, like the cup – is best enjoyed if slipped slowly.

NOTE: Tea production is closed from December to February/March, following pruning of the Bushes.

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