With 523,000 hectares under cultivation – three times the size of London, India exports more than 12% of the world's tea. By the 1840s, India was producing regular shipments for sale at auctions in London and gradually the planting of estates grew throughout the country, primarily Assam.
Assam is the world's largest single tea-growing region and one of only two regions in the world with its own native tea plant, the other being Southern China. The tea plant (Camellia sinensis var. assamica) is grown in the lowlands of Assam. In an area of the floodplain rich in nutrients, this part of India experiences exceptionally high rainfall, as much as 30cm per day during the monsoon period. Coupled with daytime temperatures reaching 40°C, Assam has greenhouse-like conditions of extreme humidity and heat. All this contributes to the unique malty, brisk, strong taste and deep colour for which Assam tea is renowned.