The world's number one tea producer. Commercial tea growing began relatively recently in India, when great estates were planted in the northeastern Assam province in the early part of the 19th century. Tea growing in India is based on the native Camellia sinensis assamica variety, which has larger leaves than the more common Camellia sinensis sinensis.
In southern India the English grew Camellia sinensis sinensis as it was grown in China, while in Darjeeling both varieties were cultivated as hybrids.
Differences in climate, terrain -mountains, plateaus and plains- and harvesting times result in teas with widely varying characteristics.
The principal tea-growing regions are Darjeeling, Assam, Dooars, Terai, Kangra, Nilgiri and Sikkim.
The Tea Route imports teas only from Darjeeling and Assam.
Procuring teas from a single plantation, or "garden", ensures a recognition factor as well as reliable quality.