Tea was grown in China for 4000 years
England enters trade with East India Co in mid to late 1600s- UK ends EIC monopoly in 1833
1840’s- Indian tea becomes more popular in Britain due to thicker brew
1859- Assam Company established in India. By 1859 most hillside forests were cleared to create gardens
Colonial government brought tribals with families to as garden workers. Labor laws did not come in to affect until Indian Independence in 1947.
*Most critical success factor for a tea plantation is its pluckers.
*Skill learned over years, taught from mother to daughter for generations. Tea bushes require the plucking of specific leaves to maintain their health.
*Separate out the two leaves and bud from the bush and twist it took break off the leaf. An experienced plucker can pluck an entire bush in 20 seconds. Average pick of 50 lbs per day per worker.
*Tea leaves are surprisingly fragile. Pluckers must gingerly hold the leaves in their fingers as they flutter around the bushes, plucking leaves. If they don’t, the leaves will bruise.
*The skill of these women at plucking and holding determines the quality of the tea made. If they pick the wrong leaf, or the bruise good leaf, the tea make deteriorates.
*Pluckers maintain the table—the flat, level shape of the tea gardens. Every time you have a great cup of tea, thank the woman who plucked it. She had the biggest role to play in it.