Tea Tourism in Northeast India
What Exactly is Tea Tourism?
What activities are included in a tea tour?
Stay at Heritage Bungalows
Most of the tea gardens, especially in Assam, came up during the British era. Tea planters built their own mansions in the middle of lush green tea gardens. So, many of these tea estates have turned their bungalows into heritage resorts for tourists. So, if you want to experience that colonial charm and luxury, a stay at a tea garden in Assam can provide you that. The most famous properties of this kind can be found in the upper Assam districts of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Jorhat, Sonitpur etc. For example, I recently stayed at Sapoi Tea Estate near Dhekiajuli, which was established back in 1914 and has been run by the same family for several generations.
In any tea estate, you can go for a tea tasting session. This is something like wine tasting, where an expert will introduce you to different types of tea and tell you a few things about them. Then you will taste a bit of then and learn to appreciate them. For instance, at Sapoi, we not only tasted some brews prepared exclusively at that estate as well as some other premium brews from other parts of Assam.
Tea Garden & Factory Tours
The other essential activity in a tea garden is the tour of the garden and the factory. You can take leisurely walks or a jeep ride through the garden, take photographs and learn about the process. Similarly, the factories give you additional insight into the trade.
Culture of Tea Garden Workers
Especially in Assam, the tea garden workers have a unique history. They were originally from places like Odisha and Jharkhand, who were brought here by the British to work in the gardens. They are a sizeable population and they have their own song, dance, and culture that you can explore if you get time.
The good things are that Northeast India is full of many attractions and most of these tea garden resorts of many other nearby attractions that you can visit. For example, various tea gardens in Assam are located very near to major National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries such as Kaziranga, Orang, Nameri, Dibru Saikhowa, Hoolongpar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary etc. Historical places like SIvasagar or the river island of Majuli is also worth visiting.
Tea Growing Regions in North East India
Tea Tourism in Assam
Tea Tourism in Sikkim
Considering its proximity to Darjeeling, Sikkim has a similar landscape and climate suitable for tea although it basically has one major tea estate which is famous and is a major tourist attraction too. It is called Temi Tea Estate and it is a short drive from the town of Namchi in South Sikkim. It is a beautiful estate that looks better due to the hilly terrain. It also has a property where you can stay but you can also simply make a day visit. You can also but packaged organic tea from the shops here.
Tea Tourism in Arunachal
Although not too prevalent, Arunachal does boast of a few tea gardens and some of them have been making waves lately with their own trademark varieties. One of them also came up with something that broke all the records at the auction. Most of these tea estates are found along Siang and Lohit Valleys, near Pasighat and Wakro. Some of them have tourist lodges but overall the tourist infrastructure is not as extensive as in Assam.
Tea Tourism in Manipur
Tea Tourism in Nagaland
Tea Tourism in Meghalaya
There are a few tea estates in Meghalaya, mostly in East Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi districts, i.e. not far from Shillong. The most touristy one is called Mawlyngot, which is around 45 KMs from Shillong. You can find homestays in the village. The good thing is that this is a very touristy region anyway. SO, you can combine it with other visits to Shillong and Laitlum easily.