Tea was originally a Chinese export first traded by the East India Company in 1685 from Canton (up river from Macao) and the trade was in 1750 a more valuable revenue stream than all of India. The trade was lost in 1833, and a year later native tea plants were found growing in Assam. Interest was reignited, the first export of tea from India was 12 tea chests in 1838. The Assam Tea Company took over the East India Company's tea plantations in 1839. By 1860, a million pounds (weight) of tea was being grown in:
- Assam. See also page Assam Tea Industry
- Nilgiri Hills
- Kangra Valley
- the Dooars
- Chittagong (now Bangladesh)
- Tea Planters Cachar 1865-1875 on the FIBIS database, over 200 names listed.
- FIBIS Journal Number 9, "Jokai Tea Estates" by Dick Barton. Includes a useful reading list.
- FIBIS Journal Number 24, "Life with Tea in India: The Diaries of Samuel Cleland Davidson" by Wendy Pratt and Peter Bleakley
- "Life with Tea and India: Diaries of Family Life in the Cachar Area". The first 10 minutes of a talk given by Wendy Pratt (FIBIS Member) and Peter Bleakley at the FIBIS Spring Lecture meeting 22 May 2010 is available to download or listen to on the podcast page. The full version is available for FIBIS members only in the FIBIS Social Network, previously known as the Members Area. Members can also access the accompanying visual presentation which displays impressive original material including photographs and equipment designs.
- Tea Images Images relating to tea planters and tea production comprising some of the original material mentioned above - examples of which are on this page.
- From the end of the 19th century special sections covering tea plantations appear in Thacker's Indian Directories. FIBIS Fact File No 3 - Indian Directories by Richard Morgan states "The tea section lists within each area the names of the firms, their “tea gardens” (areas under cultivation), the trade mark or logo of the company as it was stamped on their tea chests , the postal address, acreage, proprietors, general managers and assistants, Indian agents and addresses, and London Agents and addresses”
An example is given of how a genealogical history can be obtained by using the annual directories in this context.
Some Thackers are available online, refer Directories online-Thacker's Indian Directory
- Guide to James Finlay & Co Managers and Assistants Letterbooks University of Glasgow. .Finlay Muir & Co as the company became known began to diversify into tea estate management around 1882 and by 1901 was managing extensive tea estates in India and Sri Lanka. These letterbooks contain a wealth of information about the men recruited in Britain to manage the Finlay tea estate business overseas
- BACSA (British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia) cemetery publications is
- Bangladesh: Tombs in Tea by John Radford and Susan Farrington, 2001, 96pp.
- Covers tea areas in the valleys of Luskerpore, Balisera, Manu/Doloi, Lungla and Juri; also the oldest cemetery in Sylhet town. 45 illustrations, maps and plans.
- See BACSA Books.
- BACSA have put the indexes to these cemetery books online and these indexes are free to browse. If an indexed name is of interest then application can be made to BACSA for details of the relevant burial inscription - charges apply for this service
Volunteer Regiments involving tea planters include
- Northern Bengal Mounted Rifles with headquarters at Darjeeling
- Assam Valley Light Horse with headquarters at Dibrugarh
- Surma Valley Light Horse with headquarters at Silchar
- Punjab Light Horse had a detachment at Palampur in the Kangra Valley in 1898. It is not known whether this detachment continued past 1905, when many planters left the area following the 1905 Kangra earthquake.
- The British Library has the following books in its catalogue:
- Taylor’s Maps of the following Tea Districts, Darjeeling, Terai, Jalpaiguri and Dooars, Darrang, Golaghat, Jorhat Nowgong, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Cachar, Sylhet, with complete Index to all Tea Gardens, published 1910
- Map of Darjeeling & Terai; Plate 1 British Library Online Gallery (click to enlarge)
- Tales and Songs from an Assam Tea Garden by Maurice P. Hanley (Calcutta 1928) UIN: BLL0100158619
- The Trials of a Planter by Oscar Lindgren (Kalimpong 1933) UIN: BLL01002174145
- Assam Planter: Tea Planting and Hunting in the Assam Jungle by A. R. Ramsden. (London 1945) UIN: BLL01009605678
Historical books online
- Report No 23 : Report upon the present condition and future of tea cultivation in the north-west provinces and in the Punjab from Selections from the records of the Government of India (Home Department) 1857 Google Books
- Selections from the Public Correspondence of the Punjab Government Volume IV No 2: I Correspondence regarding Tea Plantations in the Punjab Provinces 1859 Google Books
- "Industrial Resources of British India" in The Quarterly Review contains a section on tea, Google Books, 1863
- East India (Products) Part I Reports on the Tea and Tobacco Industries in India. Part of a larger publication [UK Parliamentary Papers] Accounts and Papers East India. Continued Session 5 March-7 August 1874 Volume XLVIII Google Books.
- Tea planting in the outer Himalayah by A T McGowan Assist. Surgn. 52nd Lt. Infty. 1860 Archive.org. The author was based at the Fort of Kangra.
- Old times in Assam by T Kinney 1896 Archive.org A tea planter’s life in the early 1860’s. Reprints from columns in the Englishman and Indian Planters’ Gazette.
- The Neilgherry Tea Planter by James McPherson 1870 Google Books
- The Experiences of a Planter in the Jungles of Mysore by Robert H Elliot 1871. Volume I Google Books. Volume II HathiTrust Digital Library. Includes Coffee, Chinchona, Cardamon, Tea, Cotton, Silk, Sandal-Wood, Rhea-Grass.
- A tea planter's life in Assam by George M Barker 1884. Archive.org. With seventy five illustrations by the author.
- The tea industry in India : a review of finance and labour, and a guide for capitalists and assistants by Samuel Baildon 1882 Archive.org
- The Tea planter's vade mecum : a volume of important articles, correspondence, and information of permanent interest and value regarding tea etc by the Editor of the Indian Tea Gazette 1885 Archive.org
- Notes on Tea in Darjeeling by A Planter. 1888 Archive.org.
- The Wynaad and the Planting Industry of Southern India by Francis Ford 1895 Archive.org
- Tea producing companies of India and Ceylon, showing the history and results of those capitalised in sterling by Gow, Wilson & Stanton, Tea and Tea Share Brokers 1897 Archive.org
- Memories Of An African Hunter With A Chapter On Eastern India by Denis D Lyell 1923 Archive.org. Missing pages 1-13. He went to a tea garden in 1894, and worked in various locations until c 1899.
- The Planters' Chronicle. Published at Madras by the United Planters' Association of Southern India. Initially a monthly, in early 1910 it became a weekly, and remained so until 1930, with a bimonthly journal during World War II. Pdf downloads, Digital Library of India.
- Vol-I (1906-07), Vol-II (1908), Vol-III (1908), Vol- IV (1910), Vol- V (1910)
- Vol-VI (1911), Vol- VII (1912), Vol- VIII (1913), Vol-IX (1914), Vol-X (1915)
- Vol-XVI (1921), Vol-XX (1925), Vol-XXI (1926), Vol-XXIII (1928), Vol-XXV (1930)
- Vol- XXVI (1931), Vol-XXVII (1932), Vol-XXXV (1940)
- Some mirror editions available on Archive.org, search title "Planters Chronicle"
- Indian Tea, its Culture & Manufacture by Claud Bald 1907. Archive.org (One of the books on the reading list in the Fibis Article mentioned above).
- Proceedings Of The United Planters Association Of Southern India. Pdf downloads, Digital Library of India. 1910, 1911, 1913, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1929
- Some mirror editions available on Archive.org, search title "Proceedings Of The United Planters Association Of Southern India"
- The Tea And Coffee Trade Journal, published in New York. Pdf downloads, Digital Library of India. (1916) Vol.31, (1917) Vol.33, (1918) Vol.35, (1920) Vol.38, No.1, (1920) Vol.38, No. 2-6, (1920) Vol.39
- Some mirror editions available on Archive.org, search title "Tea And Coffee Trade Journal"
- The early history of the tea industry in north-east India by Harold Hart Mann 1918 Archive.org
- Bengal and Assam, Behar and Orissa : their history, people, commerce and industrial resources by Somerset Playne , J W Bond 1917 at Archive.org lists four tea companies
- Assam Shikari. A tea planter's story of hunting and high adventure in the jungles of North East India by Frank Nicholls, (born 1889) 1970. Pdf download Pahar-Mountains of Central Asia Digital Dataset.
- Forgotten Frontier by Geoffrey Tyson, published 1945, is available as a pdf download, Digital Library of India and is also available on Archive.org. The book is about the escape of refugees from Burma in 1942 and the help provided by the tea planters of Assam in assisting the refugees from North Burma into India.
- Text from Navvies To The Fourteenth Army by AH Pilcher c 1947 is available as pdf downloads from the Koi Hai website, located under Memories, the Henderson Family Scroll down to the item dated October 12, 2009. Does not contain the illustrations and maps from the original publication. The author was Col: A H Pilcher who at the outbreak of the second world war commanded the Assam Valley Light Horse. In March 1942 he was put in charge of raising a labour force from the Tea Plantations to build the Manipur/Burma Road to evacuate the 14th Army and also the many civilians who were fleeing Burma. Eventually he raised and commanded a labour force of 82000  This book (55 pages) was published in Calcutta for Private Circulation and was illustrated with black and white plates and line drawing maps.  The British Library has a catalogue reference Mss Eur F174/1316, but this is possibly a manuscript, not the printed book. The book is available at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Library, University of London.
- The Children of Kanchenjunga by David Wilson Fletcher. Link to a pdf download PAHAR Mountains of Central Asia Digital Dataset. Full title: The Children of Kanchenjunga. On the lives of a tea-planter and his family in the Darjeeling Hills, Published London 1955.
- Himalayan Tea Garden by David Wilson Fletcher. Link to a pdf download PAHAR Mountains of Central Asia Digital Dataset. Full title: Himalayan Tea Garden: A Young Family's Adventures on a Tea Plantation Near Darjeeling. Published New York, 1955.
- These two publications are possibly the same book, with different titles. Elsewhere, the author was stated to be a Gurkha officer who ran a tea plantation in Darjeeling in 1953.
- Horticultural and economic plants of the Nilgiris edited by S Krishnamurthi 1953 Includes Tea, coffee chinchona etc Archive.org
- Planting Directory Of Southern India 1956. Published by the United Planters Association Of Southern India, Pdf download, Digital Library of India. It is also available on Archive.org
- The Pioneers 1825 - 1900 : The Early British Tea and Coffee Planters and Their Way of Life by John Weatherstone. 1986. historyofceylontea.com. Also available as a pdf download, Repositori Digital, digital repository of the National Library of Malaysia.
- Pflanzerleben in Indien kulturgeschichtliche bilder aus Assám by Oscar Flex 1873 Archive.org. German language. Extract from the book reiseliteratur-weltweit.de. German language. (page 63), Google Translate English version of the extract reiseliteratur-weltweit.de. Article with details of the book "An European's account of Assam" by Arup Kumar Dutta 5.03.12 The Telegraph (India).
- Fiction. The Dead Man's Gift: a tea-planter's romance by Herbert Compton (London) 1890. British Library Digital Collection.
A Brief History of Tea by Roy Moxham (2009). For Review see Other occupations reading list.
- Koi-Hai a site for those who lived and worked in North East India, particularly in the Tea industry. Includes articles, list of relevant books, photos, some grave inscriptions, tourism information
- Includes a link to a Directory (34 pages pdf which may be downloaded) published by the India Tea Association Calcutta 1930, consisting of a Complete Index to Tea Gardens in India (28 pages) and maps of the North Eastern tea areas: Sibsagar (computer page 30); Cachar p 31; Dibrugarh (p 32) Lakimpur (p 33) and Sylhet (p 34)
- Very interesting and detailed interviews of many aspects of the life and work of a tea planter. Travancore State, Calcutta, Darjeeling, N.W.F.P. Recorded by A.S. Robertson and his son, A.F. Robertson (1976 and 1979) from University of Cambridge - Centre of South Asian Studies. Listen to the interviews, or read the transcripts.
- Assam Where? Growing up in the tea growing district of Cachar during the late 1940s and the 1950s from Shangrilajournals.com. (There are links at the bottom of the page)
- Halycon [sic] days: a memoir of tea estate life by Duncan Allan (archived))
- "Cultivating an Industry: A Survey of the lives of British Tea Planters in Assam 1860-1936"] by A.H. Spielman 13 May 2009 Word download, which, depending on your browser, you may need to locate in your downloads folder. minds.wisconsin.edu
- Business records relating to tea companies in the Guildhall Library, London. It seems likely these companies are ones registered in the U.K.
- "It's time for tea" by Anurag & Priya Ganapathy. Supplement, Deccan Sunday Herald (possibly Sunday 22 June 2014). An overview.
- Early tea cultivation in India and Sri Lanka Cambridge University Library’s Special Collections. Includes images.
- The Story of India Tea 1917 British Pathe film clip
- The Elephant Man is about the rescue of refugees fleeing Burma in 1942 by Gyles Mackrell, an Assam tea planter. He mounted an operation to save refugees who were trapped by flooded rivers at the border with India using the only means available to get them across - elephants. Includes YouTube film clip from the Centre of South Asian Studies, Cambridge. More about Gyles Mackrell’s story in this link theguardian.com (archive.org link)
- "Retreat from Burma 1942: The Struggles through the Northern Passes" by Harry Fecitt “Harry’s Sideshows” kaiserscross.com. The involvement of the tea planters.
- Assam Company Ltd Background to the Assam Tea Company and its Tea Plantations
- "Back then, at the burra bungalows of tea estates" by Moumita Chaudhuri 30 Dec. 2018 The Telegraph India.
- Photographs: Tea garden bungalows of colonial India pinterest.com
- UPASI (The United Planters' Association of Southern India) is an apex body of planters of tea, coffee, rubber, pepper and cardamom in the Southern States of India viz. Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka in existence since 1893, located at Coonoor, Nilgiris. Article A tea industry anniversary by S. Muthiah, Madras Miscellany March 24, 2013 The Hindu. The first tea auction at Coonoor was in 1863.
- When planters turned to their Directory of South India by K.V.S. Krishna Madras Musings Vol. XXI No. 5, June 16-30, 2011
- Article "Rubber soul" by Lesley Gillilan 28 October 2011 The Guardian mentions the rubber plantations in the foothills of the Western Ghats. (archive.org link)
- The Path to the Hills: History of the Plantations on Western Ghats. Tea Coffee and Rubber. html version, original pdf www.stayhomz.com
- "Total Tea Day:A Taste Of History. The museum at the Nullathani estate in Munnar November 9, 2012 thehindu.com
- Planting History [Central Travancore] poabsestates.com
- History of Ceylon Tea
- Scroll down to comments section Jungle Work: A Civil Engineer in Burma BBC ww2peopleswar
- marelibri.com, page no longer accessible