The history of India Darjeeling Tea dates back to 1835, when Captain James has managed to persuade Government to purchase tea seeds from China. The Superintendent of Darjeeling, Dr. Campbell was the first to plant an experimental trial around his bungalow, known today as Beechwood, in 1841. Following the success of the tea plantation, the government decided to place tea nurseries in these areas in 1847. A few other plantations were introduced by the year 1852, thus making the town home to the first commercial tea estates, such as Aloobari, Steinhal and Tukvar.
However, the real beginning of India Darjeeling tea industry can be traced back to 1856-1857, when such gardens as Ambootia, Makaibari, Ging and Phoobsering started their operations and the experimental stage had passed successfully. The remaining problem of Dr Campbell was to attract the natives and the settlers to the uninhabited region. The problem was solved due to the active participation of Shri Dakman Rai - a nobleman from Nepal, who brought thousands of immigrants to Darjeeling and was provided with the grant of free lands, like Phuguri, Samripani and Soureni in appreciation of his help.
Today India Darjeeling Tea, frequently referred to as the Champagne of Teas, is world-known for its wonderful flavor and delicate taste. Now it has over 85 gardens, each retaining its own scenic character and ethnic names reminding of the romantic past. These gardens are spread over the area of more than 19,000 hectares and employ nearly 52,000 people from Nepal on permanent basis, with some 15,000 persons more being engaged during the plucking season from March throughout November.
Nestled in the foothills of the towering, snowcapped Himalayan range, India Darjeeling Tea is grown at an altitude that ranges from 750 to 2,000 meters, where the combination of cool and wet climate, persistent rainfall, gradually sloping terrain and rich fertile soil give a unique muscatel flavor. However, it is upon tea taster's subjective judgment to assess the tea quality, which isn't subjected to any chemical index so far.
It should be mentioned that India Darjeeling Tea differs significantly from South Indian and Assam teas, as the latter have much lower monoterpenes level in them. A quantitative alteration in both terpenoid and non-terpenoid levels also leads to the changed flavor of the teas. India Darjeeling Tea, characterized with the muscatel flavor, is believed to be connected with the components which comply with 6-dimethyl, 7-octadine and 6-diol.
India Darjeeling Tea is manufactured using a conventional orthodox industrial technique, designed in the early 1800s, and known today as Orthodox Production. Inherent tea aroma of top quality Darjeeling tea is maintained by this method, and tea is produced without the Cut, Tear and Crush procedure of tender tea leaves.
As quality has always been and remains today the main focus of Darjeeling tea makers, commitment is expressed to producing quality rather than quantity. The latter is the main problem with India Darjeeling Tea: there will never be enough tea to satisfy demand.