The history of Darjeeling Tea invariably starts with the arrival of Dr.Campbell, in 1839, who may undoubtedly be credited to be called as the founding father of Darjeeling Tea. This civil surgeon & the first superintendent of Darjeeling, was transferred from Kathmandu, Nepal to Darjeeling, which was then a sparsely populated hamlet inhabited mainly by Lepcha tribes.
The Darjeeling tea lovers ought to recall while savouring a warm cup of Darjeeling that all this Muscatel,aromas, flavours and spiciness this world famous Darjeeling presently has, wouldn’t have been possible without the curiosity and experimental step taken in the year 1841, by Dr. A. Campbell. He planted seeds of the tea plant ( Camellia sinensis ) in his Beechwood garden, which he had brought from the Kumaon hills of North India.
In 1847, the British Government decided to put tea nurseries after the success of the experiment (must be referred to as the turning point for Darjeeling tea industry) carried out by Dr A. Campbell.
In 1852, the first commercially producing tea gardens were Tukvar tea garden, Steinthal tea garden and Aloobari tea garden.
During 1860-64, the Darjeeling Company was established with 4 gardens.
Between 1859 and 1864, the British government is said to have started the following tea gardens:
Harsing Tea Estate,
Dooteriah Tea Estate,
Takdah Tea Estate,
Phoobsering Tea Estate,
Pandam Tea Estate,
Makaibari Tea Estate, and
Singell Tea Estate.
In 1866 there were 39 tea gardens which then produce 20 quintals of Darjeeling tea.
By the end of 1874 there were 113 commercial tea gardens in Darjeeling district.
By 1905, the number of tea gardens in Darjeeling rose to 117.
Today, Darjeeling Tea is grown in an area covering approximately 17,542 hectares in 87 tea gardens, spanning the seven valleys of the Darjeeling hills facing the Himalayas, with three major flushes being harvested in a year. (Viz.: First flush in Spring, Second Flush in Summer and Autumn Flush as the name suggests in the Autumn season.) Total annual production stands at 8500 tonnes as per the statistics got for the year 2012.
GI Status (Geographical Indication) was accorded by the European Commission to Darjeeling Tea in the year 2011, the first such commodity from India to get the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) tag. The notification came into effect from November 10th, 2011.