Highest tea estate in the world !! - Kolukkumalai,

Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, Tamil Nadu.  kurangani.in
Kolukkumalai Tea Estat, Tamil Nadu: http://www.cleartrip.com/
 If you are lazy, just out of bed in the cold morning, yet to get rid of bouts of dozing, nothing will charm you and stimulate your lousy nerves except a hot brew - tea. For almost in all countries, tea is a favorite brew. it is cheap and quite stimulating.

 In the last several decades,  aromatic beverage  tea, next to water,  is the most widely consumed drink in the world. it is prepared from cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub native to Asia by  pouring hot or boiling water over them.
It was in  the early 1820s, the British East India Company took keen interest in tea production in India particularly in Assam where they were exposed to  a tea variety traditionally brewed by the native Singpho people(?) In 1826, the Yandaboo Treaty  with the Ahom kings  enabled the English company to develop the region and  in 1837 the first English tea garden  at Chabua in Upper Assam came up.  One Maniram Dewan (1806-1858) was the first Indian tea planter, and he was the one who established the first commercial plantations of the Assamese variety of tea. However commercial production of tea began in 1840 by the Assam Tea Company  using local indentured labor force. As the popularity of tea grew in the 1850s the  tea industry rapidly expanded, controlling vast tracts of land for tea plantations. Naturally by  the turn of the century, Assam  took the credit of becoming the leading tea producing region in the world. today India is the largest tea producer in the world, more than 715,000 tons. Assam and Darjeeling tea are quite famous. Initially tea was widely  only consumed by Anglicized Indians in the early 1900s and by 1950  it became a popular brew. Thanks to the hectic ad campaign undertaken by Tea Board. Today 70% of India's tea production is consumed by the Indian population.

As for the Nilgiri and other hills in South India,  One Dr. Christie introduced tea plants in the Nilgiris in 1832 on experimental basis and  later other parts of Nilgiri were covered. Initially seeds from China were used in these hills whose optimum soil conditions, elevation, climate were conducive to successful growth. It is believed earliest commercial tea plantation in Kerala  was  in the area of Peermade in 1875.  A major landmark in the tea industry was made with the advent of  James Finlay and Co. in 1878  that developed  Kanan Devan Hills with tea as an exclusive crop. Soon, Tea cultivation  spread to Wayanad  by 1889  and then to the the Anamallais in Coimbatore district in 1897.

The tea and coffee plantations and industries operating in the Nilgiri and other areas owe a lot to John Sullivan, 31, then Collector of Coimbatore district,  in early 1800s who  discovered the Nilgiri hills. In January 1819 he convinced Gov. Sir Thomas Munro about the usefulness of developing the Nilgiri  mountains, considering its higher elevation and cool and pleasant weather. Coffee and tea planters moved in  only after his first arrival on the hills in 1820.

You will be surprised to know that Kolukkumalai in the western ghats of Tamil Nadu is known to have one of the oldest tea plantations in south India and it is the highest tea growing place in the world.

Kolukkumalai (Tamil: Kozhkkumali)  a small village/hamlet in Bodinayakanur Taluk in the Theni District of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu has the unique distinction of being home to the highest tea plantations in the world.  The amazing thing about the tea produced here is it has soothing flavor and freshness because of the high altitude. This brew, it is believed, will energize you and freshen up your spirits; the difference is the flavor will stay with you for a long time.
Kolukkumalai, about 7,130 feet (2,170 m) above sea level and just some 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Munnar, can be accessed with a 4-wheel drive jeep as the 17 km stretch hill road is rugged, wet and slippery. From Munnar to the hill top it is just one and half hour ride with mesmerizing scenery on either side, misty clouds playing hide and seek with you. The approach road is via Suryanelli in Idukki district of Kerala.
Picturesqe Kulukkumalai. www.kolukkumalai.in
The tea factory here is also a pretty old one, established by a Scottish man during the colonial period. Here, for tea making they follow old methods and the machines are pretty old. They do not use the modern tea processing machinery as the terrain is a tough and dangerous one. it is difficult to get the new machinery, risking slippery mountain road. They manage with the vintage machinery, trying to set it right when it is broken down. So far, so good.