The Kangra Tea in Himachal Pradesh
Nested in the North-West of India, the Kangra district is located in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The Dauladhar mountains, the foothills of the Himalayas, offer its constant majestuous background to a luxuriant landscape: we are here at an altitude of 4,000 ft and up.
The history of tea in the Kangra valley begins in the mid-1800s, when British botanists try and plant some of the Chinese tea tree that Robert Fortune brought back from his travels.
Commercial tea cultivation started in 1852 when the first plantation estate was established in Holta, close to Palampur. By 1892, more than 9,000 acres of land were brought under tea farming and cultivation. Kangra tea is then a delicate and highly prized tea, winning international competitions.
Everything changes in 1905. On April 4th, an intense earthquake (7.8 on the Richter scale) kills hundreds of people and destroys entire towns. The tea industry is devastated as the British tea garden and factory owners leave the area. Fifty years of commercial success were all but annihilated. In fact, the 1905 earthquake alone explains why we, modern Westerners, have probably never heard about the Kangra tea at all.
The Dharmsala Tea Company
The Dharmsala Tea Company is a 6-generation family business: They bought the estates in the 1880s, and opened their own factory in the late 1880s as well. In 1883, the Gazetteer of the Kangra District noted that tea produced in the region was “probably superior to that produced in any other part of India”. In 1886 and 1895, their Kangra tea won gold and silver medals for their superior quality, in London and Amsterdam respectively.
They were one of the early Indian owners and managers of tea gardens in the region, before the earthquake. Kangra was then part of the state of Punjab, and the founders were from neighbouring provinces within the state of Punjab.
At this time it was not very common for a tea estate and factory to be owned by Indians. Most were owned and managed by British managers. However, the devastation wreaked by the 1905 earthquake led many of the British owners to leave the region and sell their tea estates to local Indian owners.
In recent years, the Company has won various awards in the World Tea Championships, the Kolkata Auctions, and on other platforms, primarily for their black tea, green tea and wellness blends.
Discover here our first selection of the unique teas produced by the Dharmsala Tea Company.