What Is Kangra Tea? The Story Of The Himachali Beverage
Image Credit: Source: Unsplash

When one thinks about Indian tea, Assam, Darjeeling, or Nilgiri instantly come to mind. But did you know, Himachal's Kangra tea has a 150-year-old heritage too?

The majority of Kangra teas have a green, vegetal aroma, as well as a mild pungency that is agreeable. Kangra tea is noted for its high quality, distinct scent, and fruity undertones. In terms of flavour, it's a little milder than Darjeeling tea. The tea's distinct features are related to the region's geographical peculiarities. According to the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, it was given the Geographical Indication tag in 2005 by the Office of the Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, Chennai.

Origins of Kangra Tea

Kangra's organic tea estates, located in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, have only recently gained attention. Kangra produces some of the most excellent black and green teas, thanks to its picturesque estates and rich loamy soil, as well as a cold environment and ample rainfall.

Many tea enthusiasts may compare Kangra tea to Darjeeling tea, but the truth is that it is made from Hybrid China tea plants and has its own distinct flavour.

The tea region in the Kangra valley is the smallest in India. The Dauladhar mountain range, which towers over the valley at around 5,500 metres, serves as a backdrop.

The following two criteria make Kangra a good place to grow tea:

1. During the cropping season, tea plants require a precise temperature range. The temperature in Kangra maintains in the appropriate range of 13-35 C between March and October, the main cropping season.

2. With an annual precipitation rate of 250-230 cm, Kangra valley receives well-distributed rainfall.

Tea production began here in the mid-nineteenth century, in 1852, 12 years after Darjeeling's gardens were planted. When Dr Jameson, then the Superintendent of the Botanical Tea Gardens, visited Kangra in 1849, he discovered that it was well suited for tea growth. He believed that the Dauladhar mountain ranges, particularly the lower slopes, met all of the topographical requirements. Tea planting began commercially in 1852, with the first plantation estate being developed in Hotla, near Palampur. This estate stood at a height of approximately 1260 metres above sea level. The tea plants that were grown on the estate were all Chinese in origin. By 1892, almost 9,000 acres of land had been converted to tea production and horticulture.

The tea made here was highly regarded. The Kangra District Gazetteer observed in 1883 that tea produced in the area was "possibly superior to that produced in any other portion of India." Kangra tea won gold and silver medals for high quality in London and Amsterdam in 1886 and 1895, respectively.