Explore India’s Teas

The teas from Assam and Darjeeling gardens are the better known ones from India, while several other tea growing areas are making their mark with tea lovers around the world. Go exploring here.

Assam Darjeeling Nilgiri Bihar
Munnar Dooars Sikkim Himachal Pradesh

Geographical Indications


The trend toward protectionism in the Indian tea market (like the trend in other countries for agricultural products such as cheeses and wines) has led to establishing “geographical indications” for various tea regions, signified by their own logos. Some even have 2 or 3 logos (one for orthodox style teas, one for CTC style teas, and a general one). Is this really a good thing? It depends on whether you care about the tea’s provenance (where grown, who processed it, etc.).

Here they are:

Assam Darjeeling Nilgiri Bihar
Munnar Dooars Sikkim Himachal Pradesh

Assam


The state of Assam, India, in the northeastern part of the country is home to a very special type of tea grown from the Camellia sinensis var. assamica tea plant.

In recent years, more and more tea companies have begun selling these wonderful teas directly to us tea lovers. Plus, some gardens now produce other styles of Assam teas, including white teas and green teas. A lot to explore!

See Assam Orthodox Tea Grades below.

Note: This site is an ongoing project. Additional information will be added to it as needed and as time allows. If you have any recommendations for us to add here, please send us a message via our Contact page.


Continue exploring with these tea sellers:


Our Faves:

Shop for CTC Assam by Deep Foods Shop for Bihu Bold

Some More Sellers:


Assam Orthodox Tea Grades


Pekoe (P)
Whole leaf tea.


Orange Pekoe (OP)
Slightly larger, thinner tea leaf.


Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP)
Leaves broken (by machine) into good-sized pieces.


Flowery Orange Pekoe (FOP)
Minimum grade for hand-plucked tea.


Golden Broken Orange Pekoe (GBOP)
Broken leaves, some golden tips.


Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (GFOP)
Full leaves, some golden tips.


Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (TGFOP)
Fine quality, all tips are golden.

Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade (TGFOP1)
A step up from TGFOP.


Fancy Tippy Golden Broken Orange Pekoe (FTGBOP)
Highest grade, mainly best quality tips from tea bush stems. Also called “Golden Tip” and “Golden Tippy.”


Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Grade (FTGFOP1)
Finest top-grade production, abundance of tips.


Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (SFTGFOP)
Another step up the grade scale.


Clonal (CL)
Tea plant cloned from another tea plant.

Assam Darjeeling Nilgiri Bihar
Munnar Dooars Sikkim Himachal Pradesh

Darjeeling (West Bengal)


The teas from Assam and Darjeeling gardens are the better known ones from India, while several other tea growing areas are making their mark with tea lovers around the world. Go exploring here.

There are about 87 or 88 tea gardens in the West Bengal state of northern India that bear the official seal of “Darjeeling.” Of these, a number stand out above the rest in terms of their quality. Not all of these gardens sell directly to the public, and there are a number of tea companies that specialize in selling these tasty and very special teas, but avoid the teas that do not name the tea garden, since they are often blends of various teas (and not all Darjeeling tea).

Check out this intrepid tea guy, founder and owner of Thunderbolt Tea.

Note: This site is an ongoing project. Additional information will be added to it as needed and as time allows. If you have any recommendations for us to add here, please send us a message via our Contact page.


Start exploring with these tea sellers:


Top Picks

Shop Now for Darjeeling Teas Shop Now for Darjeeling Teas Shop Now for Darjeeling Teas
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Some More Sellers

Assam Darjeeling Nilgiri Bihar
Munnar Dooars Sikkim Himachal Pradesh

Nilgiri


Nilgiri tea is dark, intensely aromatic, fragrant, and flavorful. It is grown in the hills of the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu and is over half of all South Indian production. About 30% of the tea is grown on plantations. The rest is from small growers.

You can find hand-sorted, full-leaf versions like Orange Pekoe (OP) at international auctions. There is also a machine-sorted, lower-cost variety known as Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP). Most are Crush, Tear, Curl (CTC) teas.

Nilgiri teas are also used in blends, such as this English Breakfast tea:

English Breakfast Tea
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Katary Estate and Sutton Estate are two key tea estates and are part of the AVT Group (Neelamalai Agro Industries Ltd.).

Some more tea vendors selling Nilgiri teas:

Assam Darjeeling Nilgiri Bihar
Munnar Dooars Sikkim Himachal Pradesh

Bihar


The state of Bihar in northern India is home to the Doke Tea Garden. To our knowledge, it is the only tea garden in that part of India and lies in an area that many claim could not grow good tea.

The garden produces four main teas. We have tried them all on several occasions with varying results.


Munnar


Munnar tea cultivation was begun by A. H. Sharp, a European planter, in 1880. Munnar, like Nilgiri, is in the state of Kerala and is part of the Western Ghats mountains along the western coast of India. The orthodox tea version is described having a clean, biscuity aroma with a strong, brisk flavor.

More information

Check out these Munnar teas:

From Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Co. Pvt. Ltd.

Classic Green Tea Rose Black Tea Premium Leaf Tea
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Assam Darjeeling Nilgiri Bihar
Munnar Dooars Sikkim Himachal Pradesh

Dooars


The Dooars (Duars) are alluvial floodplains in northeastern India, south of the outer foothills of the Himalayas and north of the Brahmaputra River basin. The Western Dooars are also known as the Bengal Dooars, and the Eastern Dooars also as the Assam Dooars. Dooars is analogous with the Terai in northern India and southern Nepal. Tea is the economic backbone of Dooars; a sizeable portion of the population is directly dependent on the industry.

A list of Dooars tea gardens.

A lovely green tea from Dooars:

Jogihora Green Tea
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Some tea vendors selling Dooars teas:

Assam Darjeeling Nilgiri Bihar
Munnar Dooars Sikkim Himachal Pradesh

Sikkim


Sikkim was an independent country until recently. The country came under the protection of the Indian government in 1975 to guard against raids from neighboring areas and is now a full-fledged Indian state.

The Temi Estate is the key tea grower in Sikkim. It was established in 1969 and has won laurels from around the world. Known to be one of the finest, this high-grown tea has carved a niche in the hearts of tea aficionados. The landscape is at elevations ranging from 1,400 to 2,000 meters above sea level.


Shop for Temi Tea:


Spring Flush
Delicate leaves & buds. Refined taste/aroma, golden liquid, light floral finish, sweet lingering taste.
Summer Flush
Mellow, smooth, toasty liquid. Leaves picked with care when the days are bright and sunny.
Monsoon Flush
Leaves plucked from rain-soaked slopes, then withered & oxidized, infuses full-bodied cup, mellow taste.
Autumn Flush
Well-rounded taste, light hint of warm spices, amber-colored liquid, perfect end to the seasons of tea.
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Some more tea vendors selling Sikkim teas:

Assam Darjeeling Nilgiri Bihar
Munnar Dooars Sikkim Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh


A far northern state of India in the Western Himalayas. The name means literally “snow-laden province.”

Tea growing (a Chinese variety of Camellia sinensis) began in the Kangra Valley of this state around 1848 by British visionaries. Plantings in Palampur and Dharamshala were the first successes. By 1880, their teas were recognized for superior quality. Tea growing stopped in 1905 due to a massive earthquake where thousands died and factories were destroyed. Planting resumed on a smaller scale after that by locals inhabitants. Kangra tea is known for its unique color and flavor, attributed to the geographical properties of the region. They were given a Geographical Indication status in 2005.

Most teas are CTC black, some is green. Lately, some specialty teas (hand-rolled oolong tea and silver needle white tea) and blends (rose tea, saffron green tea, etc.) are appearing on the market.

Tea Estates

As of May 2015, about 5,900 tea gardens are actively growing and producing tea in an area covering about 2,312 hectares of land between Dharamsala, Shahpur, Palampur, Baijnath, and Jogindernagar. (This means, of course, that most are quite small, less than a hectare.) Some popular tea estates in the region include the Wah Tea Estate, Palampur tea estates and the Darang Tea Estate.

The Dharmsala Tea Company:

One of the oldest tea companies in the area, owned by the Mann family. They have 3 tea estates in and around Dharamsala: Mann Tea Estate, Hoodle Tea Estate, and Towa Tea Estate (at roughly 6,500 ft elev).

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Assam Darjeeling Nilgiri Bihar
Munnar Dooars Sikkim Himachal Pradesh

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