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Tea industry needs to flourish to develop Assam in tea tourism sector

By The Assam Tribune
Tea industry needs to flourish to develop Assam in tea tourism sector
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Guwahati, Sep 27: They say you haven't woken up if you have not sipped Assam tea which has a unique aroma that separates itself from the rest of the tea available around the world.

According to the Tea Board India -- Assam Tea has a rich, deep-amber colour and is famous for its rich, full-bodied cup. It is known for its brisk, strong and malty character, making it a perfect tea to wake up to. The distinctive orthodox Assam teas are valued for their rich taste, bright liquors and are considered to be one of the choicest teas in the world.

"What makes Assam tea distinctive from the Darjeeling or the Nilgiris is the briskness of the tea and its colour which is not found anywhere else," said Dr Pritam Choudhury, Scientist at Tocklai Research Institute.

The taste of the strong tea, grown on the rolling plains by the Brahmaputra river is crafted by the region's soil, climate and rainfall which equally contribute to the uniqueness of the tea. "Assam soil is acidic for which the briskness is available in the tea and the climate here is tropical and that's why it is unique," added Choudhury.

Assam produces both Orthodox and CTC varieties of tea. While orthodox refers to loose-leaf tea that is produced using traditional (or orthodox) methods of tea production, which involve plucking, withering, rolling, oxidation/fermentation and drying, CTC involves making large quantities of black tea with the help of machinery or crush-tear-curl method. The Assam orthodox variety has already been conferred with a GI tag.

Of late, tea as a tourism potential has gained momentum and if capitalised well, it can be promoted in lines of the famous French vineyard, which apart from boosting tourism in the State, will also provide employment opportunities to the locals.

"Very few people are aware of the varieties of tea in Assam, this consolidates the way tea is being prepared. Tea culture needs to be developed, although it is still at a nascent stage, tea has enough potential in the tourism sector," informed Choudhury.

The relics of the colonial era have been well preserved in the tea estates of Assam. The lush green tea gardens, golf courses, century-old trees and bungalows of the tea estates speak for themselves. A stay in the tea garden, playing golf and a first-hand experience of plucking the two leaves and a bud and indulging in tea tasting sessions undoubtedly renders an unforgettable experience.

While Assam produces more than 50% of total tea in the country, the State famous for tea in the recent past has been a sought-after destination when it comes to tourism. Moreover, the State government has also stepped up efforts to promote tea tourism in the State.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, in February this year expressed his intention for the development of the tea industry. He also proposed a move to support 40 tea gardens to develop tourist resorts and promote tea tourism in State.

The State budget has this year earmarked Rs 50 crore as capital infrastructure support for building guest houses and tourist facilities inside selected tea gardens. Apart from generating revenue for the State exchequer, this step will also help in augmenting income for the tea gardens.

Offbeat activities like plucking tea leaves, trekking, tea tasting, and understanding different varieties of tea, the idea is not just an escapism from the concrete world into the serene surroundings, but also of learning and experiencing heritage.

However, there are several factors that need to be looked upon before the tourism segment of the industry. "To be honest, tea tourism has a lot of potentials, but there are several challenges that need to be considered. Only a flourishing tea industry can cater to the tourism sector," said Rituraj Sharma, Information Officer, Tocklai Tea Research Institute, Jorhat.

The Tocklai Tea Research Institute is the oldest & largest tea R&D organisation. It is largely instrumental in making tea industry commercially viable in India.

The tea industry is facing stiff competition from new tea-producing countries, steadily declining price of tea, high cost of production, labour issues, deficit rainfall due to climate change etc.

"Tea tourism is ultimately related to the health of the tea industry, the valuation of tea needs to be improved, and when the tea industry flourishes only then you can think about tea tourism. Although on a smaller scale it is still happening but to be counted upon as a major tourism segment it's a long way to go," Sharma informed.

Sharma further suggested that it is necessary to identify all the tourism hotspots and develop it so that it can cater to the concerned sector.

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Tea industry needs to flourish to develop Assam in tea tourism sector

Guwahati, Sep 27: They say you haven't woken up if you have not sipped Assam tea which has a unique aroma that separates itself from the rest of the tea available around the world.

According to the Tea Board India -- Assam Tea has a rich, deep-amber colour and is famous for its rich, full-bodied cup. It is known for its brisk, strong and malty character, making it a perfect tea to wake up to. The distinctive orthodox Assam teas are valued for their rich taste, bright liquors and are considered to be one of the choicest teas in the world.

"What makes Assam tea distinctive from the Darjeeling or the Nilgiris is the briskness of the tea and its colour which is not found anywhere else," said Dr Pritam Choudhury, Scientist at Tocklai Research Institute.

The taste of the strong tea, grown on the rolling plains by the Brahmaputra river is crafted by the region's soil, climate and rainfall which equally contribute to the uniqueness of the tea. "Assam soil is acidic for which the briskness is available in the tea and the climate here is tropical and that's why it is unique," added Choudhury.

Assam produces both Orthodox and CTC varieties of tea. While orthodox refers to loose-leaf tea that is produced using traditional (or orthodox) methods of tea production, which involve plucking, withering, rolling, oxidation/fermentation and drying, CTC involves making large quantities of black tea with the help of machinery or crush-tear-curl method. The Assam orthodox variety has already been conferred with a GI tag.

Of late, tea as a tourism potential has gained momentum and if capitalised well, it can be promoted in lines of the famous French vineyard, which apart from boosting tourism in the State, will also provide employment opportunities to the locals.

"Very few people are aware of the varieties of tea in Assam, this consolidates the way tea is being prepared. Tea culture needs to be developed, although it is still at a nascent stage, tea has enough potential in the tourism sector," informed Choudhury.

The relics of the colonial era have been well preserved in the tea estates of Assam. The lush green tea gardens, golf courses, century-old trees and bungalows of the tea estates speak for themselves. A stay in the tea garden, playing golf and a first-hand experience of plucking the two leaves and a bud and indulging in tea tasting sessions undoubtedly renders an unforgettable experience.

While Assam produces more than 50% of total tea in the country, the State famous for tea in the recent past has been a sought-after destination when it comes to tourism. Moreover, the State government has also stepped up efforts to promote tea tourism in the State.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, in February this year expressed his intention for the development of the tea industry. He also proposed a move to support 40 tea gardens to develop tourist resorts and promote tea tourism in State.

The State budget has this year earmarked Rs 50 crore as capital infrastructure support for building guest houses and tourist facilities inside selected tea gardens. Apart from generating revenue for the State exchequer, this step will also help in augmenting income for the tea gardens.

Offbeat activities like plucking tea leaves, trekking, tea tasting, and understanding different varieties of tea, the idea is not just an escapism from the concrete world into the serene surroundings, but also of learning and experiencing heritage.

However, there are several factors that need to be looked upon before the tourism segment of the industry. "To be honest, tea tourism has a lot of potentials, but there are several challenges that need to be considered. Only a flourishing tea industry can cater to the tourism sector," said Rituraj Sharma, Information Officer, Tocklai Tea Research Institute, Jorhat.

The Tocklai Tea Research Institute is the oldest & largest tea R&D organisation. It is largely instrumental in making tea industry commercially viable in India.

The tea industry is facing stiff competition from new tea-producing countries, steadily declining price of tea, high cost of production, labour issues, deficit rainfall due to climate change etc.

"Tea tourism is ultimately related to the health of the tea industry, the valuation of tea needs to be improved, and when the tea industry flourishes only then you can think about tea tourism. Although on a smaller scale it is still happening but to be counted upon as a major tourism segment it's a long way to go," Sharma informed.

Sharma further suggested that it is necessary to identify all the tourism hotspots and develop it so that it can cater to the concerned sector.

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