Located in the remote foothills of the northwestern Himalayas, Kumaon is a sort of forgotten region when it comes to tea production.
The first records of tea cultivation in Kumaon date back to the 1830s. It was one of the first places that the British East India Company experimented with growing imported Camellia Sinensis seeds from China.
Although the tea plant thrived on the mountainside slopes, the region’s isolation made it difficult to get the tea to the ports, and the area was essentially abandoned in favour of Assam and Darjeeling in the north east.
It wasn't until the 1990s that the government began looking for ways to create more economic opportunities for rural communities and turned to tea. And so, abandoned land with once-rich soil was leased from locals for cultivation, old tea bushes were rehabilitated and new organic ones were planted.
Meet the Makers
Today tea production is centered around the ancient village of Champawat where more than 450 farmers produce tea on small-scale farms amounting to nearly 150 hectares. About 90% of those working on tea cultivation are women.
Tea is grown on a series of high-altitude mountain ridges that rise from gentle rolling foothills to elevations of 1900m. The mountain environment and rich biodiversity make it an ideal place for growing tea.