150 years ago, Dr. Campbell, the first Superintendent of the Darjeeling district experimented with tea seeds in his garden at Beechwood. In 1847, the government put out tea nurseries in this area, proving his experiment to be successful.
Here’s where the story of Darjeeling Tea began.
According to records, the first commercial tea gardens planted out by the British tea interests were the Tukvar, Steinthal and Aloobari tea estates, in 1852. All these plantations used seeds that were raised in the government nurseries. Darjeeling was then only a sparsely populated hamlet, which was being used as a hill resort by the army and some affluent people. Tea, being a labour-intensive enterprise, required sufficient numbers of workers to plant, tend, pluck and finally manufacture the produce. For this, employment was offered to people from across the border of Nepal.
In 1866, Darjeeling had 39 gardens producing a total crop of 21,000 kilograms of tea.
In 1870, the number of gardens increased to 56 to produce about 71,000 kgs of tea harvested from 4,400 hectares.
During 1860-64, the Darjeeling Company was established with 4 gardens while the Darjeeling Consolidated Tea Co. dates back to 1896.
By 1874, tea in Darjeeling was found to be a profitable venture. Where 113 gardens spanning approximately 6,000 hectares, were thriving.