India's terrain defines its tea-growing regions by the subcontinent's significant differences in climate and geography. The three main Indian tea regions are Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri. Northeastern India is home to both Assam, located in the lush, dense jungles at the foot of the eastern Himalayas, and Darjeeling, which bumps up against Tibetan Himalayas and stretches between high mountain ridges and deep mountain valleys. Nilgiri, by contrast, is situated in the mountains of the southernmost tea-growing region in India. The Nilgiri (Blue Hill) Mountains feature high altitude ridges that boast lush forests and jungles where tea plants thrive. The tea grown and produced in India varies as significantly as its population and its geography. Each tea-producing region of India provides a different yet perfect climate for tea growing, leaving us so many ways to explore the subcontinent through its culture of tea.
Tea bushes were supposed to be indigenous to China, but it was reported by Major Robert Bruce in 1823 that indigenous tea bushes grew wild on the hill slopes of upper Assam. In 1840, tea seeds were imported from China and commercial tea plantations were set up in the Brahmaputra valley. To begin with, tea plantations were confined to Upper Assam only but later on, new areas such as lower Assam and Darjeeling were also opened up to tea plantations and by 1859, there were 30 tea plantations in Assam alone. Later on, tea plantations were also set up in Nilgiri Hills of South India, Tarai along the foothills of the Himalayas and in some places in Himachal Pradesh.