Tea in India

Assam tea with milk

Bedford Tea gladly offers the finest types of Indian Black Tea, and we deliver our tea all around the UK! Indian Black tea has been loved in Britain for centuries. Let us discover how it all began! 

In India tea cultivation began in the 19th century. At that time a botanist, Robert Fortune, transported the camelia sinensis plant from China.  India was a British colony then . The first tea plantations appeared in Darjeeling, a province of India in the Himalaya region. 

Robert Fortune created two tea plantations in Darjeeling: the Puttabong garden and the Tukvar garden. 


Tea plantation

Several years later tea plantations appeared in the Assam province too. It happened when a tree that bore a certain resemblance to Camelia sinensis was discovered in that region. This tree,  ‘camelia assamica’, could reach up to 15 metres in height, which is much higher than Camelia Sinensis that could only reach 6 meters. What is more, the leaves of camelia assamica were larger and thicker than those of camelia sinensis. Therefore, the assamica leaves produced stronger tea, that those of camelia sinensis. 

Therefore, the local people took to the camelia assamica, and started cultivating it all over the country. This led to the fact that tea business had well developed in India. Soon afterwards Indian tea merchants became strong competitors to their Chinese peers in the tea market. 

There is another famous tea region in India, called Nilgiri, where English botanists created a tea plantation, having planted a number of camelia sinensis trees. 

Assam tea harvesting

Tea production in India

India is the greatest tea producer in the world!  Over 900 000 tons of the world’s tea comes from India. 

There are 3 regions in India, where tea is produced: Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiri 


This region is famous for producing very high quality black tea. 98 per cent of the tea that comes from Darjeeling is black tea. However, there are plantations in Darjeeling, where green and oolong tea are produced.

The best known Darjeeling tea is the one harvested in the spring. This tea is called “First Flush Darjeeling tea”. It has a very delicate flavour, and tea connoisseurs from all over the world admire its exquisite taste. 

Our company Bedford tea sells the finest Darjeeling tea across the UK. Feel free to discover our Fine Darjeeling Tea

Margaret’s Hope Tea

There is one particular kind of Darjeeling tea that has a moving story behind it, both romantic and tragic. ‘Margaret’s Hope’ Darjeeling tea owes its name to Margaret who was the daughter of Mr Bagdon. Mr Bagdon was  the original founder of the Tea Estate in Darjeeling. In 1870 he was the first person to plant tea on the southwest ridge of the Balsun River in Darjeeling. He named his tea estate Bara Ringtong. 

Young Margaret fell in love with the beautiful landscapes of the Himalayan Mountains rising out from the Kurseong Valley. Therefore, Margaret and her mother left England to visit the tea estate. However, sadly, Margaret took ill during the journey and passed away. Overwhelmed by grief, her parents renamed the tea estate after their daughter. So now, in living memory of Margaret, one of the finest and most exquisite Darjeeling teas (known as ‘the champagne of teas’ due to its finest quality and delicate taste), ‘Margaret’s Hope’, is produced there.

Bedford Tea gladly offers our very own Margaret’s Hope Tea First Flush Darjeeling! Feel free to discover it! 

Tea tasting darjeeling

One can not only find Darjeeling tea in the Darjeeling province. The yearly amount of Darjeeling tea production is about 40,000 tons, with only 10,000 coming from this province. However, the remaining 30,000 tons of Darjeeling tea are produced in other parts of India. What is more, usually this tea will be a blend of tea leaves from different plantations and regions. 

Several tea production factories appeared in Darjeeling in the late 19th century. Usually those factories were 3-storey buildings, where each floor corresponded to a particular step in tea production. Women would generally harvest the tea leaves. Men, on the other hand, would maintain the plantation and manage other tea productions processes.  


The Assam region contains the most tea plantations in the whole of India. They are also the biggest ones. There are about 40,000 tea plantations in Assam! That is why the Assam region is famous for being the “tea attic” of the whole world! 

There are four tea harvesting seasons in Assam: the spring, the summer, the mousson season and the autumn. Those seasons are usually referred to as ‘first flush’ (for the spring season), ‘second flush’ (for the summer season), etc. The connoisseurs usually prefer the second flush Assam tea.  

Assam tea is quite strong, and also rather dark in colour. It is for this reason that the English prefer to add a dash of milk into it.


This region is situated in the south of India. Here there are fewer tea plantations than in Assam and Darjeeling. However, it is worth mentioning this region, because many tea connoisseurs like the tea  coming from here. It quite strong and full of character.  

Tea tasting Ceylon

Tea tasting in India

Indian tea is usually quite strong. Therefore, it is quite common to drink it with some milk, sugar or even spices, such as cardamom, pepper, etc. Usually the milk would be present in the water even before boiling it.  

Another interesting tea tasting tradition in India is breaking your teacup after having finished your tea. Why? Because ‘castes’ (social class) are very important in Indian society. Therefore, it is common practice to break the cup, lest a person from a different caste should drink from the same cup as you. 

In the high society of India, people tend to drink tea according to English traditions. For example, afternoon tea is very popular with the elite society of India! 

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