Tea Plantation

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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:

Plucking tea

Fibis Resources

  • 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
  • Tea Images Images relating to tea planters and tea production comprising some of the original material mentioned below - examples of which are on this page.

Fibis Lecture recordings

Fibis lecture recordings are available to Fibis members only when logged in to the website. They can be found in the Members Area - under the heading Open Lectures

  • "Life with Tea and India: Diaries of Family Life in the Cachar Area" Talk by Wendy Pratt and Peter Bleakley (2011). Members can also access the accompanying visual presentation which displays impressive original material including photographs and equipment designs.
  • "Thomas Meekin's Tea Times" A story of Life on the Plantation" Talk by Andrew McMeekin 2017.


Packing and weighing tea
  • 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.

Details of the location of other Thackers are given in "Thackers - and other - Directories" by Ian Poyntz. homepages.rootsweb.com

  • 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


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

Volunteer Regiments involving tea planters include

Related articles

Historical books

  • 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. Consists of 11 Plates/Maps. UIN: BLL01004862801
    Map of Darjeeling & Terai; Plate 1 of this series of maps 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

  • 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.
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. Archive.org Books to Borrow/Lending Library edition, catalogued 1956. Catalogue details state "Originally published in London in 1955 under title: The children of Kanchenjunga". Elsewhere, the author was stated to be a Gurkha officer who ran a tea plantation in Darjeeling in 1953.

Recommended Reading

A Brief History of Tea by Roy Moxham (2009). For Review see Other occupations reading list.

External links


  1. Scroll down to comments section Jungle Work: A Civil Engineer in Burma BBC ww2peopleswar
  2. marelibri.com, page no longer accessible