A travel through the state of Assam unravels new experiences and surprises to a person with its diverse features. The lush terrain is in fact one of the major features that enhances the environmental bounty of Assam. The fertile land and favorable climate essentially promotes the flora of this region. Among the numerous indigenous varieties of vegetation, Assam is famous for its high quality tea production world wide and the Assamese tea is the signature among other plantations. The Assam orthodox tea is the top quality tea that is exported to various pat of the World that contributes major share in the economy of India.
Tea was unknown to people of India till its introduction by the British During the end of 18th century and beginning of 19th century. Tea was introduced by the British to put and end to the Chinese monopoly in the tea production. Adopting Chinese techniques in planting and cultivation of tea in 1837, the British East India Company established the tea garden in large scale in Chabua in upper Assam, though in early 1820’s and 1826 through the treaty of Yandaboo between Ahom rulers and British undertook the land for tea cultivation. By 1850’s the tea cultivation had a rapid growth due to high consumption rate from native people. Tea was a prestigious symbol in English garden party and other official functions. Any European who agreed for the cultivation and export of the tea was permitted establish plantations. Between 1806- 1858 Maniram Devan became the first Indian tea planter that gave many Indians inspiration to involve in the tea plantation. In the beginning of 19th century tea became an indispensable and popular beverage in India. The growing popularity of tea resulted in the emancipation of Indian Tea association and in the year 1891 the importance of research in tea cultivation and manufacture got immense focus. As a result research centres were introduced in Calcutta in 1902. The suitability of terrain in Assam proposed the opening of Research centre in Assam.
In the year 1911an extensive tea Research centre was launched in banks of River Tocklai, a part of river Brahmaputra in Jorhat in Assam. The research complex was named as Tocklai Experimental station.
The Bengal and Assam government together provided the fund for the Research centre functioning. The centre began function with one laboratory and two bungalows in 1911. Later during middle of the 19th century the centre was subjected to various changes including expansion of the research area and tea cultivation and manufacturing strategies. Veterans like Mr H.R Cooper, Ms A.C Tunstall, Mr P.H Carpenter, Mr H.H Wiles, Mr C.J Harrison, Mr S.F Benton and Mr Harler extended their contributions for the development of research centre holding various designations of chemist, agriculturalist, scientific officers and Advisory Board members with the prime focus on the production, manufacture and export of high quality tea. The World War I and II was the dark time in the research centre that disrupted the proper functioning of the centre. In the year 1946 Mr N.G Gokhale was appointed as the first Indian officer in the research centre and in the same year “ Tea Encyclopedia” was published that is still regarded as the proper guidance in the Tea plantation and manufacture industry.
The clonal tea vegetation was introduced as a result of relentless research in the Research centre in the year 1949 under the tag of three clonal tea clones TV1, TV2 and TV3. In the year 1957 “Rotorvane” effective tea machinery was introduced in Tocklai centre by Mr Mc Tear. In the year 1964, the Tea Research Association undertook as a cooperative Research body. Part fund was provided by Council of Industrial and scientific Research. The services of Tocklai centre became available to the members of TRA since 1964.
Currently Tocklai Tea experimental and Research centre is the oldest and largest Tea Research centre in India, promoted by Commerce Ministry and Tea Board that carries out all possible update techniques in tea cultivation and manufacturing for the production of high quality tea in the world.