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Geographic Distribution of Tea

The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, originated in a fan-shaped range of dense tropical forest in what is now known as Assam (northern India), Myanmar (Burma), Yunnan (southwestern China), Laos, and Vietnam. From there it spread not only throughout Asia but then throughout the world. The following is a list of many places that tea is grown today, and when it was first planted.

Darjeeling: 1841 experimental. 1857 beginning of the tea industry

Assam: Robert Bruce was shown tea growing wild in 1823 (Assam was part of Burma at that time) by the local Sungpho tribe. China seeds were commercially planted in 1836.

Nilgiri Hills (southern India): 1832 experimental planting. 1859 field scale attempts at planting were made.

Japan: Introduced by Chinese monks in the early 8th century then forgotten for the next four centuries. The Buddhist monk Eisai reintroduced tea from China in the 12th century.

Sri Lanka: 1841 experimental. 1880s serious attempts at planting began.

Indonesia: Tea seeds were imported from Japan in 1826. 1878 commercial planting began.

Bangladesh: 1840 in Chittagong. In 1857 plantings began.

Taiwan: Tea seed was brought from China around 1800. The first export was in 1865.

Nepal: 1863 first garden planted

Vietnam: Tea has been used in Vietnam for centuries as evidenced by some old plants still existing. The commercial industry began in 1918.

Turkey: Tea was first planted in 1888 but got off to a bad start. In 1939 cultivation began in a region near the Black Sea.

One-Minute Tea Tip, 2002

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