Soil best adapted for the tea-plant.—The soil in which the tea-plant is now thriving in the Himalayas and in the valley of Deyrah Dhoon, varies exceedingly. At Bhurtpoor and Russiah it is of a light silico-aluminous nature, and abounding with small pieces of clay slate, which is the subjacent rock, and trap (green-stone), which occurs in large dykes, cutting through and altering the strata of clay slate; mixed with the stony soil, there is a small quantity of vegetable matter. The clay slate is metamorphic, being almost entirely composed of mica. In some places it is mixed with quartz, forming mica slate. From the decomposition of these rocks, mixed with a small quantity of vegetable matter, the soil is formed. At Kuppeena and Lutchmisser, the soil is also very stony, formed from the decomposition of clay slate, which, in many places, as at Russiah and Bhurtpoor, passes into mica slate, or alternates with it, and a little vegetable matter. The same remark applies to the plantations of Guddowli, Kouth, and Rumaserai. At Huwalbaugh part of the soil consists of a stiff clay, of a reddish-yellow colour, owing to peroxide of iron. Here, too, the tea-plants, provided that the ground around them is occasionally opened up, thrive well. In Mr. Lushington's garden at Lobha, in Kumaon, and in Assistant Commissioner Captain H. Ramsay's garden at Pooree, in Gurwahl, plants are thriving well in a rich, black, vegetable mould. The soil in the Deyrah Dhoon varies exceedingly from clayey and stiff soil to sand and gravelly soil, or light and free. The soil at Kaolagir is a compound of the two, neither clayey, nor free, nor light soil, but composed partly of clay and sand, mixed with vegetable mould, and in some places mixed with much gravel, consisting of limestone, marl, sandstone, clay slate, and quartz rock, or of such rocks as enter into the composition of the surrounding ranges of mountains, viz., the Sewalick range to the south, and the Himalayas, properly so called, to the north, From the above statement, we find that the tea-plant thrives well both in stiff and free soils, and in many modifications of these. But the soil which seems best adapted to its growth may be styled free soil, as at Russiah, or a mixture of both, as at Kaolagir, in the Deyrah Dhoon.
In limestone districts, where the tea has been tried, if the super-imposed soil has been thin and untransported, and this proved from the decomposition of the subjacent rock, the plant has generally failed; and this has been particularly the case where the limestone, by plutonic action, has become metamorphic. These districts, therefore, in forming plantations, are to be avoided.
From the writings of various authors, it appears that the districts where the tea-plant thrives best in China, have a geological structure very similar to that met with in many parts of the Himalayas, being composed of primitive and transition rocks.
Altitude above the sea best suited to the tea plant.—To state what altitude is best adapted to the growth of the tea-plant, and for the production of the best kinds of tea, will require much more observation. At present the tea-plant thrives equally well at Kaolagir, in the Deyrah Dhoon; at Russiah, in the Chikata district; at Huwalbaugh; at Kuppeena and Lutchmisser; and at Rumaserai, or at heights ranging from 2,200 feet above the level of the sea to 6,000 feet.
Moreover, the tea manufactured from leaves procured from Kaolagir, has been considered by the London brokers equal to that made from leaves procured from Lutchmisser and Kuppeena.
On the method of preparing ground prior to forming a plantation.—In forming a plantation, the first object of attention, both in the hills and in the Deyrah Dhoon, is a fence. In the former, to prevent the depredations of wild animals, such as wild hog, deer, &c., which abound in the hills, and though they do not eat tea leaves, yet hogs, in search of tubers, in the space of a single night will do much damage by uprooting young shrubs—in the latter, to prevent the straying of cattle. The first thing to be done, therefore, is to dig a trench three feet broad and two deep, and to plant a hedge, if in the hills, of black thorn (Cratoegus); if in the plains, the different species of aloe are best adapted for the purpose. The fence being formed, all trees and shrubs are then to be uprooted; this is very heavy work, both in the hills and plains, from the vast number of shrubs, allowed by natives (from indolence to remove them) to grow everywhere throughout their fields. Roads are then to be marked off.
After this has been accomplished, the land is to be drained, if necessary, by open drains—under drainage, for want of means and the expense, being impracticable—and then ploughed three or four times over. The beds for young tea-plants are then to be formed; these ought to be three feet in breadth, alternating with a pathway of two feet in breadth. By arranging beds in this manner much time and labour is saved in transplanting; in irrigation the water is economised, and in plucking tea leaves a road is given to the gatherer. In transplanting, each plant is allowed 41/2 feet; this is at once gained, the beds and pathways being formed by placing in one direction the plant in the centre of the bed.
Trenching.—On the tea beds being marked off, they are to be trenched to a depth of from two to three feet, in order to destroy all the roots of weeds, which are to be carefully removed. The trenching is to be performed by the fowrah, or Indian spade.
In the hills, in many places the fowrah cannot be used, owing to the number of stones. The work is then to be done by the koatlah, a flat-pointed piece of iron, of about eight inches in length, which is inserted into a wooden handle. It is in form like the pick, and is much used in hill cultivation for weeding and opening up the ground. It is, however, not much to be commended for trenching purposes, as natives, in using it, never penetrate the ground beyond a few inches. For weeding, however, it is particularly useful, and to such soil is much better adapted than most other implements.
Formation of roads and paths.—In addition to the pathways of two feet in breadth, recommended to be formed between each bed, there ought, for general use, to be a four feet road carried round the plantation, and one of 10 feet through the centre. This applies to a limited plantation, that is, of from 200 to 400 acres. If, on the other hand, it was on a more extensive scale, several hackery roads of 10 feet in breadth would be necessary, in order to cart away weeds, &c., or carry manure to seedling beds.
On seeds when ripe, and method to be adopted to ascertain it.—In all September and October the tea seeds ripen, but in the more elevated plantations, as at Rumaserai, many do not ripen until November. The seeds are contained in a capsule, and vary in number from one to seven; to ascertain that they are ripe, open the capsule, although green, and if their color is a nut-brown, they are sure to be so. If they are not ripe, they are of a reddish-brown above, mixed with white. If the seeds are allowed to remain a short time on the bushes, after they are ripe, the capsules burst, and they fall out; it is necessary, therefore, to remove them before this takes place.
On the method of sowing seeds, and season, and on the treatment of the young tea plants after they have germinated.—The ground having been first well trenched and manured, that is, from sixty to seventy maunds of manure given to the acre, the seeds are, when ripe, to be removed from the capsules, and immediately sown to the depth of one inch, and very close, in drills 8 to 10 inches apart from each other. The sooner that they are sown after being removed from the capsules the better, as their germinating properties are apt to be destroyed if they are kept for any length of time. Some germinate in the space of a few weeks, others lie dormant until February and March, and others do not germinate until the rains.
The method of sowing seeds in China is thus described, being similar to the native plan of sowing mangoes in India. "Several seeds are dropped into holes four or five inches deep and three or four feet apart, shortly after they ripen, or in November and December; the plants rise up in a cluster when the rains come on. They are seldom transplanted, but sometimes four to six are put quite close to form a fine bush." By this method nothing is gained, and the expenditure of seeds great.
If the plants germinate in November, which, as already stated, many do, they ought to be covered with a chupper made of bamboo and grass.
In the hills, everywhere at an elevation of 6,000 and 7,000 feet, the ringal, a small kind of bamboo, of which there are several species, is found in great abundance, and well adapted for the purpose, and in the Deyrah Dhoon the bamboo occurs in vast quantity; the market of the Upper Provinces being chiefly supplied from that valley and other forests at the base of the Himalayas. Bamboos are also met with to the height of six and seven thousand feet on the Himalayas in the neighbourhood of Almorah. During the day, in the cold weather, the chuppers ought to be removed, and again replaced at night; as the weather becomes hot, it is necessary to protect the young plants from the heat of the sun, that is, in April and May, and until the rains commence; the chuppers at this time ought to be put on about eight a.m., and removed again about four p.m.
Method of rearing plantations by layers, and by cuttings.—The best season for laying down is when the sap is dormant, or in cold weather; or when in full action, as in the rains. "Laying," as expressed by Dr. Lindley, "is nothing but striking from cuttings, which are still allowed to maintain their connection with the mother plant by means of a portion of their stem." There are various methods of making layers, but the most simple and efficient is to bend down a branch, and sink it into the earth after having made a slit or notch in the centre of the embedded portion. By so doing, the descent of the sap is retarded, and thus the formation of radicles or young roots is promoted; about five or six inches or more, of the branch, is to be allowed to remain above ground, and in a position as perpendicular to the point where the plant is notched as possible. In three or four mouths these layers are ready to be removed and transplanted; the removal of the layers is to be gradual, that is, they ought first to be cut half through, then a little more, and finally altogether separated.
The best season for propagating by cuttings is the cold weather, that is, from November to February; they may also be propagated, though not with the same success, during the rains; it is necessary to protect them against frost in the cold weather, and from the rays of the sun in the hot. Cuttings put in during the cold weather are ready to transplant in the rains, and if put in during the rains, they are generally fit for removal in February.
On the method of transplanting and season.—In transplanting young tea-plants care should be taken to lift them with a good large ball of earth attached to their roots, as they throw out a long central or tap root, which, if cut through, invariably destroys the plant. On being placed in the ground, the earth around them is to be well pressed down and watered; the watering is to be continued every third or fourth day, until the plants have taken hold of the ground. During the rains, grass springs up with great rapidity, so as to render it impossible for one man to keep three acres (the quantity assigned by us) clean. This, however, is not necessary, if care be taken to make a golah round each plant, and keep it clear of weeds; these golahs ought always, in hill plantations where the ground is irregular, to be connected by small khauls or channels, in order to make irrigation easy; by so doing too, water, if the supply be scanty, which often happens in the hills in the hot weather, will be economised.
- b b a a a a Tea plant. Thus X X X b Bed c c c Watercourse b b -
We have already stated that 41/2 square feet ought to be assigned to each plant. In China, according to Professor Royle, three to four feet are given; this, however, is too small a space to allow the plant to grow freely. After the tea plants are transplanted, it is not necessary to protect them.
The best seasons for transplanting are towards the end of February, or as soon as the frost has ceased, and throughout March, and during the rains, and until the end or middle of November, depending on the season.
In transplanting, four parties ought to be employed; viz., one person to dig holes, a second to remove plants, a third to carry them to the ground where they are required, and a fourth to plant. By this means, not only time is saved, but the plants have a much better chance, when thus treated, of doing well. When the seedling beds are extensive, so many of the plants ought not to be removed, that is, a plant left every 41/2 feet, and these beds added to the plantation.
On pruning, best season and mode.—The plants do not require to be pruned until the fifth year, as the plucking of leaves generally tends to make the plants assume the basket shape, the form most to be desired to procure the greatest quantity of leaves; if, however, the plants show a tendency to run into weed, from central branches being thrown out, this ought to be checked by removing the central stem. In the fourth year a quantity of the old and hard wood ought to be removed, to induce the plants to throw out more branches. The best season for pruning is from November to March.
On irrigation.—To keep the tea-plants healthy, irrigation for two or three years is absolutely necessary, and no land ought to be selected for a tea plantation which cannot be irrigated.
On the other hand, land liable to be flooded during the rains, and upon which water lies for any length of time, is equally detrimental to the growth of the plant. This applies to a small portion of the Kooasur plantation, which receives the drainage of the adjoining hills, and the soil being retentive, keeps the water. Deep trenches have been dug in order to drain it off—these, however, owing to the lowness of the surrounding country, act badly. Three successive seasons plants have been put into the ground, and as often have been destroyed on the setting in of the rains, showing the necessity of avoiding such kind of land for tea plantation.
To facilitate irrigation, &c., as already stated, in the Deyrah Dhoon, I have limited the tea beds to three feet in breadth. This is particularly requisite in land so constituted as that of the Deyrah Dhoon, it being so porous, as mentioned by Major Cautley in his "Notes and Memoranda of Watercourses." This is caused by the superincumbent soil not being more than from one to three feet thick, in some places more, but varying exceedingly. Beneath this there is a bed of shingle of vast thickness, through which the water percolates; it is this that renders the sinking of wells so difficult in the Deyrah Dhoon, and which has tended so much to retard individuals from becoming permanent residents; at present there are many tracts of several thousand acres in that valley unoccupied from want of drinking water, as for instance, at Innesphaeel.
Where the ground is very uneven, as is the case generally in the hills, the khaul system, already recommended, ought to be adopted.
On the tea-plant; season of flowering, its characters and species, and on the advantages to be derived from importing seeds from China.—From the importance of tea, as an article of commerce, the plant has attracted much attention; and from few qualified Europeans having travelled in the tea districts of China, there is much difference of opinion as to the number of species belonging to the genus Thea.
In the government plantations in Kumaon and Gurwahl, the plants begin to flower about the end of August and beginning of September, or, as the seeds of the former year begin to ripen. They do not all come into flower at once, but some are in full blossom in September, others in October, November, December and January. Some throw out a second set of blossoms in March, April, and May, and during the rains; so that from the same plant unripe or ripe seeds and flowers may be collected at one and the same time.
To the genus Thea, which belongs to the order Ternstraemiaceae, the following characters have been ascribed: calyx persistent, without bracts, five-leaved, leaflets imbricated and generally of the same size. Petals of the corolla vary in number from five to nine, imbricated, the inner ones much the largest. Stamens numerous, in several rows adhering to the bottom of the petals. Filaments filiform. Anthers incumbent, two-celled, oblong, with a thickish connectivum. Cells opening longitudinally. Ovary free, three-celled; ovules four in each cell, inserted internally into the central angle, the upper ones ascending, the lower pendulous. Style trifid, stigmas three, acute. Capsule spheroidal, 1-7-lobed with loculicidal dehiscence, or with dessepiments formed from the turned-in edges of the valves. Seeds solitary, or two in cells, shell-like testa, marked with the ventral umbilicus. Cotyledons thick, fleshy, oily, no albumen. Radicle very short, very near the umbilicus centripetal. In the plantations there are two species, and two well marked varieties.
The first is characterised by the leaves being of a pale-green colour, thin, almost membraneous, broad lanceolate, sinatures or edge irregular and reversed, length from three to six inches. The color of the stem of newly-formed shoots is of a pale-reddish colour, and green towards the end. This species is also marked by its strong growth, its erect stem, and the shoots being generally upright and stiff. The flowers are small, and its seeds but sparing.
In its characters this plant, received from Assam, agrees in part with those assigned by Dr. Lettsom and Sir W. Hooker to the Thea viridis, but differs in its branches being stiff and erect. The flowers small, or rather much about the same size as the species about to be described, and not confined to the upper axils of the plant, and solitary, as stated by them. By the Chinese manufacturers it is considered an inferior plant for making tea, it is not therefore grown to any extent.
The second species is characterised by its leaves being much smaller, and not so broadly lanceolate; slightly waved, of a dark-green color, thick and coriaceous, sinature or edge irregular, length from one to three inches and a half. In its growth it is much smaller than the former, and throws out numerous spreading branches, and seldom presents its marked leading stem. This species, therefore, in the above characters, agrees much with those that have been assigned to Thea Bohea by authors. The characters have been mixed up in an extraordinary manner. Thus it has been stated, that the Thea viridis has large, strong growing, and spreading branches, and that Thea Bohea is a smaller plant, with branches stiff and straight, and stem erect. No doubt the Thea viridis is a much larger and stronger growing plant than the Thea Bohea, or rather the plant now existing in the different plantations is so; but in the former the branches are stiff and erect, and in the latter inclined and branches. The marked distinguishing characters between the two species are the coriaceous dark-green leaves in the Thea Bohea, and the large pale-green monhanaeous leaves of the Thea viridis. The manner, too, of growth is very striking, and on entering the plantation the distinction is at once marked to the most unobservant eye. This species of Thea Bohea forms nearly the whole of the plantations, and was brought from China by Dr. Gordon.
In the plantations there is a third plant, which, however, can only be considered a marked variety of Thea Bohea. Its leaves are thick, coriaceous, and of dark-green color, but invariably very small, and not exceeding two inches in length, and thinly lanceolate; the serratures, too, on the edge, which are straight, are not so deep. In other characters it is identical. This marked variety was received from Calcutta at the plantation in a separate despatch from the others.
But in addition to these there are, no doubt, many more varieties, and though it may be a fact that, in certain districts, green tea is manufactured from a species differing from that from which black tea is manufactured, yet, in other districts, green and black teas are manufactured from one and the same plant. The Chinese manufacturers now in Kumaon state that the plant is one and the same, and that it can be proved by converting black tea into green. In manufacturing teas now in the manufactory, if a large quantity of leaves are brought in from the plantations, one half are converted into green, and one half into black tea. This only shows that much of the green and black teas of commerce are manufactured from one and the same plant. The Assam plant is, from the characters given, quite a distinct plant, and agrees, as already stated, most nearly with the species described as Thea viridis. It would, therefore, be most desirable to procure seeds of this so-called species, and also of other varieties, of which, no doubt, there is a great variety. From the northern districts of China in particular, seeds ought to be imported, not, however, in large quantities, but in quantities of two or three seers, so that they might, on arrival at Calcutta, be sent up the country as quickly as possible, for, if the seeds are kept long out of the ground, not one will germinate; such was the fate of all the seeds contained in ten boxes imported by government in 1845, not one having germinated, which was much to be regretted. Had they been sent in small parcels, well packed in wax cloth, to prevent them from being injured by moisture, and placed in an airy part of the vessel in transmission from China to Calcutta, and, on arrival there, sent by dawk banghay direct to the plantation, they would, I am confident, have reached in good condition. It is well worthy of a trial and seeds ought, if possible, to be obtained from every district celebrated for its teas. It is in this manner, by obtaining seeds of the finest varieties of plants, that the finest teas will be procured. I do not mean to infer that the tea plants now under cultivation are not the produce of fine varieties, for that has been proved by the undoubted testimony of the London brokers, but only that there are, no doubt, many others well worthy of introduction. In confirmation of what I have stated, I may quote the words of my late friend Dr. Griffith, who, in his report on the tea plant of Assam, says—"I now come to the consideration of the steps which, in my opinion, must be followed if any degree of success in the cultivation of tea is to be expected; of these the most important is the importation of Chinese seeds of unexceptionable quality, and of small numbers of their sorts." Dr. Royle, too, who was the first person to point out that the Himalayas were well adapted to tea cultivation, and to whom the credit of recommending to government the introduction of the plant into Northern India is due, strongly urges the necessity of importing seeds from different localities in China celebrated for their teas.
Method and season for plucking and gathering leaves.—The season for picking leaves commences in April and continues until October. The number of gatherings varies, depending on the moisture or dryness of the season. If the season be good, as many as seven gatherings may be obtained. If, however, the rains are partial, only four or five. These, however, may be reduced to their general periods for gathering—that is, from April to June, from July to 15th August, and from September to the end of October. But few leaves are collected after the 15th of the latter month. As soon as the new and young leaves have appeared in April, the plucking takes place, this being done by the Chinese, assisted by the Mallees. The following is the method adopted:—A certain division of the plantation is marked off, and to each man a small basket is given, with instructions to proceed to a certain point, so that no plant may be passed over. On the small basket being filled, the leaves are emptied into another large one, which is put in some shady place, and in which, when filled, they are conveyed to the manufactory. The leaves are generally plucked with the thumb and forefinger. Sometimes the terminal part of a branch, having four or five young leaves attached, is plucked off. All old leaves are rejected, as they will not curl, and therefore are of no use.
As the season advances, and manufactory and plantation works become necessary, the Mallees are assisted in gathering leaves by Coolies. The process is simple, and thus every man, woman, and child of villages could be profitably employed, on the plantations being greatly extended. Certain kinds of leaves are not selected in the plantation, in order to make certain kinds of tea, but all new and fresh leaves are indiscriminately collected together, and the different kinds separated on the leaves being fired.
Method of manufacturing black tea.—The young and fresh leaves on being picked (they only being used, the old ones being too hard, and therefore unfit to curl), are carried to the manufactory, and spread out in a large airy room to cool, and are there kept during the night, being occasionally turned with the hand if brought in in the afternoon; or, if brought in during the morning, they are allowed to lie until noon. Early in the morning the manufacturers visit the airing room, and pack up the leaves in baskets and remove them to the manufacturing room. Each manufacturer takes a basketful, and commences to beat them between the palms of his hands with a lateral motion, in order to soften and make them more pliable for working, and thus prevent them, when rolled, from breaking. This beating process continues for about an hour, and it may either consist of one or two processes; the Chinese sometimes finish the beating process at once; at others, they allow the leaves, after being beat for half an hour, to remain a time and then resume it. They now go to breakfast, and in one hour and a half the leaves are ready for the pan. The pans being heated by wood placed in the oven, so as to feel hot to the hands, are filled to about two-thirds, or about three seers of leaves are thrown in at a time—the quantity which a manufacturer is capable of lifting with both hands. With the hands the leaves are kept moving with a rotatory motion in the pan, and when they become very hot, the motion is kept up with a pair of forked sticks. This process is continued for three or four minutes, depending on the heat of the pan, or until the leaves feel hot and soft. They are then, with one sweep of a bamboo brush, swept into a basket, and thrown on to the rolling-table, which is covered with a coarse mat made of bamboo. Each manufacturer then takes as much as he can hold in both hands, and forms a ball and commences to roll it with all his might with a semicircular motion, which causes a greenish yellow juice to exude. This process is continued for three or four minutes, the balls being occasionally undone and made up again. The balls are then handed to another party at the extremity of the table, to undo them and spread the leaves out thinly on flat baskets and expose them to the sun, if there is any; if not they are kept in the manufactory. After all the leaves have gone through this process, the first baskets are brought back, and the leaves again transferred to the pan, worked up in a similar manner for the same length of time, re-transferred to the table, and again rolled. This being done, the leaves are again spread out on large flat baskets to cool. On being cooled the leaves are collected together and thinly spread out on flat wicker-worked sieve-baskets, which are placed in others of a deep and of a double-coned shape. The choolahs being lighted for some time, and the charcoal burning clear, they are now ready to receive the coned baskets. The basket is placed over the choolah and kept there for about five minutes. The leaves are then removed, re-transferred to the flat baskets, and re-rolled for a few minutes. This being done, the leaves are again brought together, placed in the conical basket and kept over the charcoal fire for about two minutes. The contents of the conical baskets are then all collected together in a heap, and as much is placed in a conical basket as it will hold, and it is again placed over the charcoal choolah until the tea is perfectly dry. During this time the baskets are frequently removed and the tea turned, in order to allow the leaves to be completely and uniformly dried, and the basket too is generally struck, on removal, a violent side blow with the hand, to remove from the sieve any small particles that might otherwise fall into the fire. Before removing the basket from the choolah, a flat basket is always placed on the floor to receive it, and all the particles which pass through, on the coned basket being struck, are again replaced. On the conical basket being filled, before placing it over the choolah, a funnel is made in the centre of the tea with the hand, to allow the heated air to pass through. Sometimes a funnel made of bamboo is made for this purpose. After the tea feels perfectly dry, it is packed in boxes, and sent to the godown.
Next day the different kinds of tea are picked, and on being separated they are again placed in the conical baskets and heated. During this process the baskets are frequently removed from the choolah in order to turn the tea, so that the heating may be general and uniform. In doing this a flat basket is always placed on the floor, as on the former day (and a flat basket, too, is placed on the top to confine the heat), to receive the conical one, which receive one or two blows to open the pores of the sieve. What passes through is replaced amongst the tea. When it is perfectly dry it is ready for finally packing.
The kinds of black tea at present manufactured are—Souchong, Pouchong, Flowery Pekoe, and Bohea. The Flowery Pekoe is manufactured in September.
Method of manufacturing Green Tea.—On the young and fresh leaves being plucked they are spread out on the ground of the airing room and allowed to cool. After remaining for about two hours, or (if brought in late in the afternoon) during the night, they are removed to the green tea room. The pans being properly heated, the leaves, as in the case with the black tea, are thrown into the pans and kept either with the hand or two forked sticks in constant motion for three or four minutes, and are then removed to the rolling table, and then rolled in the same manner in balls as the black tea. They are then scattered most sparingly on large flat baskets and exposed to the heat of the sun. If there is no sun the baskets are arranged in frames, which are placed over the choolah, heated with charcoal. During the drying the leaves are frequently made into balls and rolled in the flat baskets, in order to extract the juice. The drying process continues for about two hours, and on the leaves becoming dry, those contained in two baskets are thrown together, and then four basketsful into one, and so on until they are all collected together. In this state the leaves still feel soft, damp, and pliant to the hand, and are now brought back to the tea manufacturing-room. Opposite to each of the inclined pans, which have been properly heated so as to feel warm to the hand by wood supplied to the ovens underneath, one of the Chinese stations himself, and puts as many leaves into it as it will hold. He then moves them in a heap gently, from before backward, making these perform a circle, and presses them strongly to the sides of the pan. As the leaves become hot he uses a flat piece of wood, in order that he may more effectually compress them. This process continues for about two hours, the leaves being compressed into at least half of their bulk, and become so dry that when pressed against the back part of the pan in mass, they again fall back in pieces. The tea, as by this time it has assumed this appearance, is now placed in a bag made of American drill or jean (the size depending on the quantity of tea), which is damped, and one end twisted with much force over a stick, and thus it is much reduced in size. After being thus powerfully compressed and beaten so as to reduce the mass as much as possible, the bag is exposed to the sun until it feels perfectly dry. If there is no sun it is placed in the heated pan, and there retained until it is so. This finishes the first day's process.
On the second day it is placed in small quantities in the heated inclined pans, and moved up and down against the sides and bottom with the palm of the hand, which is made to perform a semi circle. This is continued for about six hours, and by so doing the colour of the tea is gradually brought out.
The third day it is passed through sieve baskets of different dimensions, then exposed to the winnowing machine, which separates the different kinds of green teas. The winnowing machine is divided into a series of divisions, which receive the different kinds according to their size and weight. 1st. Coarsest Souchoo. This tea, owing to its coarseness, is not marketable. 2nd. Chounchoo. This is a large, round-grained tea. 3rd. Machoo. This is also a round-grained tea, but finer than the former. 4th. Hyson. 5th. Gunpowder Hyson. 6th. Chumat. This kind of tea consists of broken particles of other kinds of tea.
On being separated, the different kinds are placed in baskets and picked by the hand, all the old or badly curled and also light-coloured leaves being removed, and others of different varieties, which by chance may have become mixed. To make the bad or light-colored leaves marketable, they undergo an artificial process of coloring, but this I have prohibited in compliance with the orders of the Court of Directors, and therefore do not consider this tea at present fit for the market. On the different teas being properly picked, they are again placed in the heated inclined pans, and undergo separately the process of being moved violently up and down and along the bottom of the pan for three hours in the manner already described. The color is now fully developed. If the tea feels damp, it is kept longer than three hours in the pan. The tea is now ready to be packed.
Packing.—As soon as the tea is prepared, boxes lined with sheet lead ought to be ready to receive it. On being packed it is to be firmly pressed down, and the lead is then to be soldered. Before the sheet lead box is placed in the wooden one it is covered with paper, which is pasted on to prevent any air acting on the tea through any holes which might exist in the lead. The box is then nailed, removed to the godown, papered, stamped, and numbered. It is then ready for sale.
From what I have just stated, it will be perceived that box makers and sheet lead makers are essential to form a complete tea establishment. With reference to the box making it is unnecessary for me to make any remark, further than that care is to be taken in selecting wood for making boxes, as it ought to be free of all smell. All coniferous (pine) woods are therefore unfit for the purpose. In the hills the best woods are toon and walnut, and at Deyrah the saul (Shorea Robusta).
Manufacture of sheet lead.—Sheet lead making is a much more complicated process, and therefore requires more consideration. To make sheet lead, the manufacturer mixes 11/2 to 3 seers of block tin with a pucka maund of lead, and melts them together in a cast metal pan. On being melted, the flat stone slabs, under which it is his intention to run the lead, are first covered with ten or twelve sheets of smooth paper (the hill paper being well adapted to the purpose), which are pasted to the sides, and chalked over. He then places the under stone in a skeleton frame of wood, to keep it firm, and above it the other stone. On the upper stone the manufacturer sits, and gently raises it with his left hand, assisted by throwing the weight of his body backwards. With his right hand he fills an iron ladle with the molten matter, throws it under the raised slab, which he immediately compresses and brings forward (it having been placed back, and thus overlapping the under slab by about half an inch) with his own weight. On doing so, the superabundant lead issues in front and at both sides; what remains attached to the slabs is removed by the iron ladle. The upper slab is now lifted, and the sheet of lead examined. If it is devoid of holes it is retained; if, on the other hand, there are several, which is generally the case with the first two or three sheets run, or until the slabs get warm, it is again thrown back to the melting pan. After having run off a series of sheets the slabs are to be examined, and, if the paper is in the least burnt, the first sheet is to be removed, and the one underneath taking its place, and thus securing an uniform smooth surface, is then to be chalked. According to the size of the stone slabs used, so is the size of the sheet lead. Those now in use are 16 inches square by 2 inches in thickness, and are a composition, being principally formed of lime.
To make sheet lead boxes, a model one of wood (a little smaller than the box for which the lead is intended) is formed, which has a hole in the bottom, and a transverse bar of wood to assist in lifting it up, instead of a lid. The lead is then shaped on this model and soldered. This being done, the model is removed by the transverse bar, and by pressing, if necessary, through the hole. The lead box is then papered over, in case there should be any small holes in it, to prevent the action of air on the tea, and, when dry, transferred to the wooden box for which it was intended.
The manufactory.—The rooms of the manufactory ought to be large and airy, and to consist of—1st, a black tea manufactory; 2nd, a green tea manufactory; 3rd, winnowing room; and 4th, airing room. At Almorah the black tea manufacturing room is 53 feet long by 20 broad, and the other three, 20 by 24. The walls are 18 feet in height.
Implements required in manufacturing.—In the body of this report I have noticed all the different kinds of implements required, I may however, again briefly notice them, and give a short account of each. Cast-iron Pans—In the manufactory there are two kinds in use, one received from China, the other from England. Both are considered equally good by the tea manufacturers, though in firing green tea they prefer the Chinese ones, as they are thinner, and are thus by them better able to regulate the heat. The Chinese pans are two feet two inches in diameter, and 10 inches in depth, by about one-eighth of an inch in thickness.
The English pans are two feet two inches in diameter, and eight inches in depth, and rather thicker than the Chinese.
The oven for making black tea is made of kucha brick. In height it is two feet nine inches, in length, three feet, and in breadth three feet one inch. Door one foot five inches in height, and 11 inches in breadth. The base of the oven is 10 inches elevated above the floor of the manufacturing room.
The oven with double pans for manufacturing green tea, is also built of kucha bricks. It is three feet in height and three feet in breadth; base of oven one foot in height. Door one foot six inches in height, and 10 inches in breadth. The pans are placed horizontally.
A brush made of split bamboo, used in sweeping the tea leaves out of the pans.
A basket for receiving tea from the pan when ready to be rolled. It is 2 feet long, and 11/2 feet broad, and gradually increases in depth from before backwards to 6 inches. It is made of bamboo.
The mat made of bamboo for placing on the table when the tea leaves are about to be rolled. It is 8 feet long and 4 feet broad.
A flat basket made of bamboo for spreading out the tea leaves when they have been rolled on the mat. These flat baskets are of various sizes, varying from 3 to 5 feet in diameter.
A flat sieve basket of 2 feet in diameter, made of bamboo, upon which the rolled tea leaves are placed, and which is deposited in the centre of the double-coned basket.
Double-coned baskets. The height of these baskets varies from 2 feet 2 inches to 2 feet 6 inches, external diameter 2 feet 8 inches. In the centre there are some pegs of bamboo to support the flat sieve basket on which the tea rests.
Forked sticks for turning leaves.
Choolahs. These are formed of kucha bricks, and are 10 inches high, 101/2 inches deep, and generally about 2 feet in diameter.
Funnel made of bamboo to allow the heated air from the choolahs to pass through the tea; it is seldom used; the Chinese tea manufacturers preferring one made in the tea basket by the hand.
Oven for firing green tea made of kucha bricks. The pans are inclined at an angle of 50. In front the oven is 3 feet 2 inches in height, behind 4 feet 8 inches, length 51/2 feet, breadth 3 feet. Door 10 inches from the base, 1 foot 2 inches high, and 7 inches wide.
Frames for placing baskets. The first being inclined.
Baskets for collecting leaves.
Shovel, &c., used in regulating the fire.
Winnowing machine. This is a common winnowing machine, with a box 2 feet 10 inches in length, 1 foot 2 inches in breadth, and 1 foot 3 inches in depth, attached to the bottom of the hopper, and closely fitted into the middle of the circular apartment which contains the fanners. This box is entirely closed above (unless at the small opening receiving the hopper) and at the sides. At the base there are two inclined boards which project from the side of the machine 6 inches, and are partly separated from each other by angular pieces of wood. The end towards the fanners is open, the other is partly closed by a semicircular box which is moveable.
I shall now give the dimensions of the different parts of this machine, which may be useful to parties wishing to make up similar ones to those employed in the manufactories.
External frame 7 feet 2 inches in length, 18 inches in breadth, and 5 feet 8 inches in height. Hopper 2 feet 10 inches above, and 1 foot 8 inches in depth. Frame of box for fanners 3 feet 9 inches in diameter. Hopper frame 2 feet 7 inches. Semicircular box, in length 2 feet 5 inches and 7 inches in depth. Inclined plane at base, first 15 inches, second 13 inches.
I may briefly state how this machine acts. With the right hand the fanners are propelled by the crank, and with the left hand the bottom of the hopper is opened by removing the wood. The flat piece of wood (the regulator) is held in the hand to regulate the quantity of tea that passes down. An assistant then throws a quantity of tea into the hopper which escapes through the apartment, and there meets the air. The first kind of tea falls down the inclined plane into one box which has been placed to receive them, the second are propelled further on, and fall into another box, and the lighter particles are propelled on to the semicircular end, and fall into a third box.
Note on the culture of the tea plant at Darjeeling, in 1847, by Dr. A. Campbell, Superintendant.—About six years ago I received a few tea seeds from Dr. Wallich; they were of China stock, grown in Kumaon. I planted them in my garden in November, 1841, and had about a dozen seedlings in the month of May following, which were allowed to grow where they had come up, and rather close together. The plants were healthy from the commencement, and up to May, 1844, had grown very well; at this period the ground passed into other hands (Mr. Samuel Smith's), and I lost sight of them until last August, when Mr. Macfarlane, from Assam, who was acquainted with the tea plant in that province, arrived here. Being desirous of ascertaining how far the climate and soil of Darjeeling were suitable to the tea, I took him to examine the plants, and begged of him to record his opinion on their growth and qualities, with reference to their age, and his experience of the plant in Assam. The result was quite satisfactory. Encouraged by this result, I determined to give an extended trial to the plant, and through the kindness of Major Jenkins and Captain Brodie, of Assam, I procured a supply of fresh seed in October and November last, which was planted in November and the early part of December.
The seed was of excellent quality. It commenced germinating in March, a few plants appeared above ground in the early part of May, and now I have upwards of 7,000 fine healthy seedlings in the plantation.
For the information of those who may desire to try the tea culture in this soil and climate, I have to state the mode of planting pursued by me, and other particulars. The ground is a gentle sloping bank, facing the north and west; the soil is a reddish clay mixed with vegetable mould. After taking up a crop of potatoes, and carefully preparing the ground, I put in the seeds in rows six feet apart and six feet distance in the rows. The seeds were placed about three inches under the surface, five in number, at each place about four inches apart—thus : . : On an average, two out of five have come up. The seedlings commenced appearing above ground early in May, and continued to show until the end of July. The earliest were, therefore, six months in the ground; the latest about eight months.
The seed was of China stock, grown in Assam, and of the Assam plant mixed. I am anxious to have the China stock only, and purpose separating the plants of the Assam stock as soon as I can distinguish them, which Captain Brodie informs me can be readily done as they grow up; the China plants begin of a darker color, and smaller than the Assam ones.
I hope to have a supply of the seed of China stock from Kumaon next November, and with it to cause the extension of the experiment at this place.
I think that it is reasonable to expect quite as good tea to be produced here as in Kumaon. I have not tasted the Kumaon tea, but, from the opinion expressed on it in England, I am satisfied that it is a very drinkable beverage, and that with similar success here, the tea will be a valuable addition to our products. I have recently tried two kinds of the Assam tea presented by Mr. Stokes to a friend. They are excellent teas, and I shall be well content to have an equally good article manufactured here.
Mr. A. Macfarlane's report on the tea plants in Mr. Smith's ground is annexed:—
"According to your request I have the pleasure of transmitting you my opinion of the tea plants in your garden in this place. The two larger plants have made very good progress, considering their closeness to each other, which prevents them from throwing their branches freely in every direction, but as they have attained so great a size I would not recommend their being transplanted, because let it be done ever so carefully, the roots must receive more or less injury, and should the injury be great the death of the tree is certain.
The smaller ones on the contrary are much stunted; this is caused by their confined situation, being completely choked up by the rose trees, which prevents their receiving a proper supply of light and air, so necessary to vegetation. They are also planted too closely, and, as the plants are still small, by availing yourself of the most favourable season, and using great care in the operation, they might he transplanted with safety, and should then be placed at a distance of not less than six feet apart. The difficulty of transplanting is occasioned by the depth to which the root penetrates, as it generally grows downwards, and in a large tree is principally in the subsoil. The larger plants should be pruned of their lower branches to allow a free current of air. This operation is generally performed in November, but any time during the cold season or before the rains, while the plant is at rest, would answer: as I have no knowledge of this climate, I would leave it to more experienced persons to judge of the proper season. To conclude, the plants are in a very healthy condition, and had they been in the hands of a cultivator, would now have been giving a very fair supply of produce.
The small sample I tried was of a very good flavor, but on account of the defective manner of manufacture, for want of proper materials, no proper judgment can be formed." (Simmonds's Col. Mag., vol. xvi. p. 44.)
Report upon the Tea Plantations of Deyra, Kumaon and Gurhwal, by Robert Fortune, Esq., addressed to John Thornton, Esq., Secretary to the Government, North Western Provinces, dated Calcutta, September 6th, 1851:—
KAOLAGIR TEA PLANTATION.
1. Situation and extent.—The Deyra Doon, or Valley of Deyra, is situated in latitude 3 deg. 18 min. north, and in longitude 78 deg. east. It is about 60 miles in length from east to west, and 16 miles broad at its widest part. It is bounded on the south by the Sewalick range of hills, and on the north by the Himalayas proper, which are here nearly 8,000 feet above the level of the sea. On the west it is open to the river Jumna, and on the east to the Ganges, the distance between these rivers being about 60 miles.
In the centre of this flat valley, the Kaolagir tea plantation has been formed. Eight acres were under cultivation in 1847. There are now 300 acres planted, and about 90 more taken in and ready for many thousands of young plants raised lately from seeds in the plantation.
2. Soil and culture.—The soil of this plantation is composed of clay, sand, and vegetable matter, rather stiff, and apt to get "baked" in dry weather, but free enough when it is moist or during the rains. It rests upon a gravelly subsoil, consisting of limestone, sandstone, clay-slate, and quartz rock, or of such rocks as enter into the composition of the surrounding mountain ranges. The surface is comparatively flat, although it falls in certain directions towards the ravines and rivers.
The plants are arranged neatly in rows 6 feet apart, and each plant is about 41/2 feet from its neighbour in the row. A long, rank-growing species of grass, indigenous to the Doon, is most difficult to keep from over-topping the tea-plants, and is the cause of much extra labor. Besides the labor common to all tea countries in China, such as weeding, and occasionally loosening the soil, there is here an extensive system of irrigation carried on. To facilitate this, the plants are planted in trenches, from four to six inches below the level of the ground, and the soil thus dug out is thrown between the rows to form the paths. Hence the whole of the plantation consists of numerous trenches of this depth, and five feet from centre to centre. At right angles with these trenches a small stream is fed from the canal, and, by opening or shutting their ends, irrigation can be carried on at the pleasure of the overseer.
3. Appearance and health of plants.—The plants generally did not appear to me to be in that fresh and vigorous condition which I had been accustomed to see in good Chinese plantations. This, in my opinion, is caused, 1st, by the plantation being formed on flat land; 2nd, by the system of irrigation; 3rd, by too early plucking; and 4th, by hot drying winds, which are not unfrequent in this valley from April to the beginning of June.
GUDDOWLI PLANTATION (NEAR PAORIE).
1. Situation and extent.—This plantation is situated in the Province of Eastern Gurhwal, in latitude 30 deg. 8 min. north, and in longitude 78 deg. 45 min. east. It consists of a large tract of terraced land, extending from the bottom of a valley or ravine to more than 1,000 feet up the sides of the mountain. Its lowest portion is about 4,300 feet, and its highest 5,300 feet above the level of the sea; the surrounding mountains appear to be from 7,000 to 8,000. The plantation has not been measured, but there are, apparently, fully one hundred acres under cultivation.
There are about 500,000 plants already planted, besides a large number of seedlings in beds ready for transplanting. About 3,400 of the former were planted in 1844, and are now in full bearing; the greater portion of the others are much younger, having been planted out only one, two, and three years.
2. Soil and culture.—The soil consists of a mixture of loam, sand, and vegetable matter, is of a yellow colour, and is most suitable for the cultivation of the tea-plant. It resembles greatly the soil of the test tea districts in China. A considerable quantity of stones are mixed with it, chiefly small pieces of clay-slate, of which the mountains here are composed. Large tracts of equally good land, at present covered with jungle, are available in this district without interfering in any way with the rights of the settlers.
I have stated that this plantation is formed on the hill side. It consists of a succession of terraces, from the bottom to the top, on which the tea bushes are planted. In its general features it is very like a Chinese tea plantation, although one rarely sees tea lands terraced in China. This, however, may be necessary in the Himalayas, where the rains fall so heavily. Here, too, the system of irrigation is carried on, although to a small extent only, owing to the scarcity of water during the dry season.
3. Appearance and health of plants.—This plantation is a most promising one, and I have no doubt will be very valuable in a few years. The plants are growing admirably, and evidently like their situation. Some of them are suffering slightly from the effects of hard-plucking, like those at Kaolagir; but this can easily be avoided in their future management. Altogether, it is in a most satisfactory condition, and shows how safe it is in matters of this kind to follow the example of the Chinese cultivator, who never makes his tea plantations on low rice land, and never irrigates.
HAWULBAUGH PLANTATION (NEAR ALMORAH).
1st. Situation and extent.—This tea farm is situated on the banks of the river Kosilla, about six miles north-west from Almorah, the capital of Kumaon. It is about 4,500 feet above the level of the sea. The land is of an undulating character, consisting of gentle slopes and terraces, and reminded me of some of the best tea districts in China. Indeed, the hills themselves, in this part of the Himalayas, are very much like those of China, being barren near their summit and fertile on their lower sides.
Thirty-four acres of land are under tea cultivation here, including the adjoining farm of Chullar. Some of the plants appear to have been planted in 1844; but, as at Paorie, the greater number are only from one to three years old.
2nd. Soil and culture.—The soil is what is usually called a sandy loam; it is moderately rich, being well mixed with vegetable matter. It is well suited for tea cultivation. The greater part of the farm is terraced as at Guddowli, but some few patches are left in natural slopes in accordance with the Chinese method. Irrigation is practised to a limited extent.
3rd. Appearance and health of the plants.—All the young plants here are in robust health and are growing well, particularly where they are growing on land where water cannot flood or injure them. As examples of this, I may point out a long belt between Dr. Jameson's house and the flower garden, and also a piece of ground a little below the house in which the Chinese manufacturers live. Some few of the older bushes appear rather stunted; but this is evidently the result of water remaining stagnant about the roots, and partly also of over plucking; both defects, however, admit of being easily cured.
LUTCHMISSER AND KUPPEENA PLANTATIONS.
1st. Situation and extent.—These plantations are on the hill side near Almorah, and about 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. The situation is somewhat steep, but well adapted to the growth of tea. The former contains three acres, and the latter four acres under cultivation.
2nd. Soil and culture.—-The soil is light and sandy, and much mixed with particles of clay-slate, which have crumbled down from the adjoining rocks. I believe these plantations are rarely irrigated, and the land is steep enough to prevent any stagnant water from remaining about the roots of the plants.
3rd. Appearance and health of plants.—Most of the bushes here are fully grown, and in full bearing, and generally in good health. On the whole, I consider these plantations in excellent order.
The lake of Bheemtal is situate in latitude 29 deg. 20 min. north, and in longitude 79 deg. 30 min. east. It is 4,000 feet above the level of the sea, and some of the surrounding mountains are said to be 8,000 feet. These form the southern chain of the Himalayas, and bound the vast plain of India, of which a glimpse can be had through the mountain passes. Amongst these hills there are several tals or lakes, some flat meadow-looking land, and gentle undulating slopes, while higher up we have steep and rugged mountains. It is amongst these hills, that the Bheemtal tea plantations have been formed. They may be classed under three heads, viz.—
1st. Anoo and Kooasur plantations.—These adjoin each other, are both formed on low flat land, and together cover about forty acres. The plants do not seem healthy or vigorous; many of them have died out, and few are in that state which tea plants ought to be in. Such situations never ought to be chosen for tea cultivation. The same objection applies to these as to those at Deyra, but in a greater degree. No doubt, with sufficient drainage, and great care in cultivation, and the tea plant might be made to exist in such a situation; but I am convinced it would never grow with that luxuriance which is necessary in order to render it a profitable crop. Besides, such lands are valuable for other purposes. They are excellent rice lands, and as such of considerable value to the natives.
2nd. Bhurtpoor plantation.—This plantation covers about four and a half acres of terraced land on the hill side, a little to the eastward of those last noticed. The soil is composed of a light loam, much mixed with small pieces of clay-slate and trap or green-stone, of which the adjacent rocks are composed. It contains a small portion of vegetable matter or humus. Both the situation and soil of this plantation are well adapted to the requirements of the tea shrub, and consequently we find it succeeding here as well as at Guddowli, Hawulbaugh, Almorah, and other places where it is planted on the slopes of the hills.
3rd. Russia plantation.—This plantation extends over seventy-five acres, and is formed on sloping land. The elevation is somewhat less than Bhurtpoor, and although terraced in the same way, the angle is much lower. In some parts of the farm the plants are doing well, but generally they seemed to be suffering from too much water and hard plucking. I have no doubt, however, of the success of this farm, when the system of cultivation is improved. I observed some most vigorous and healthy bushes in the overseer's garden, a spot adjoining the plantation, which could not be irrigated, and was informed they "never received any water, except that which fell from the skies."
In the Bheemtal district, there are large tracts of excellent tea land. In crossing over the hills towards Nainee Tal, with J.H. Batten, Esq., Commissioner of Kumaon, I pointed out many tracts admirably adapted for tea cultivation, and of no great value to the natives; generally, those lands on which the mundoca is cultivated are the most suitable.
I have thus described all the Government plantations in Gurhwal and Kumaon. Dr. Jameson, the superintendent, deserves the highest praise for the energy and perseverance with which he has conducted his operations. I shall now notice the plantations of the zemindars, under the superintendence of the commissioner and assistant-commissioner of Kumaon and Gurhwal.
ZEMINDAREE TEA PLANTATIONS.
1st, at Lohba.—This place is situated in eastern Gurhwal, about 50 miles to the westward of Almorah, and is at an elevation of 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. It is one of the most beautiful spots in this part of the Himalayas. The surrounding mountains are high, and in some parts precipitous, while in others they are found consisting of gentle slopes and undulations. On these undulating slopes, there is a great deal of excellent land suitable for tea cultivation. A few tea bushes have been growing vigorously for some years in the commissioner's garden, and they are now fully ten feet in height. These plants having succeeded so well, naturally induced the authorities of the province to try this cultivation upon a more extensive scale. It appears that in 1844, about 4,000 young plants were obtained from the Government plantations, and planted on a tract of excellent land, which the natives wished to abandon. Instead of allowing the people to throw up their land, they were promised it rent-free upon the condition that they attended to the cultivation of the tea, which had been planted on a small portion of the ground attached to the village.
This arrangement seems to have failed either from want of knowledge, or from design, or perhaps partly from both of these causes. More lately, a larger number of plants have been planted, but I regret to say with nearly the same results.
But results of this discouraging kind are what any one, acquainted with the nature of the tea plant, could have easily foretold, had the treatment, intended to be given it, been explained to him. Upon enquiry, I found the villagers had been managing the tea lands just as they had been doing their rice fields, that is, a regular system of irrigation was practised. As water was plentiful, a great number, indeed nearly all, the plants seem to have perished from this cause. The last planting alluded to had been done late in the spring, and just at the commencement of the dry weather, and to these plants little or no water seems to have been given; so that, in fact, it was going from one extreme to another equally bad, and the result was of course nearly the same.
I have no hesitation in saying that the district in question is well adapted for the cultivation of tea. With judicious management, a most productive farm might be established here in four or five years. Land is plentiful, and of little value either to the natives or to the Government.
2nd, at Kutoor.—This is the name of a large district 30 or 40 miles northward from Almorah, in the centre of which the old town or village of Byznath stands. It is a fine undulating country, consisting of wide valleys, gentle slopes, and little hills, while the whole is intersected by numerous streams, and surrounded by high mountains. The soil of this extensive district is most fertile, and is capable of producing large crops of rice, on the low irrigable lands, and the dry grains and tea on the sides of the hills. From some cause, however, either the thinness of population or the want of a remunerative crop, large tracts of this fertile district have been allowed to go out of cultivation. Everywhere I observed ruinous and jungle-covered terraces, which told of the more extended cultivation of former years.
Amongst some hills near the upper portion of this district, two small tea plantations have been formed under the patronage and superintendence of Captain Ramsey, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Kumaon. Each of them cover three or four acres of land, and had been planted about a year before the time of my visit. In this short space of time the plants had grown into nice strong bushes, and were in the highest state of health. I never saw, even in the most favoured districts in China, any plantations looking better than these. This result, Captain Ramsay informed me, had been attained in the following simple manner:—All the land attached to the two villages with which the tea farms are connected, is exempted from the revenue tax, a sum amounting only to 525 Rs. per annum. In lieu of this, the assamees (cultivators) of both villages assist with manure, and at the transplanting season, as well as ploughing and preparing fresh land. In addition to this, one chowdree and four prisoners are constantly employed upon the plantations. The chief reason of the success of these plantations, next to that of the land being well suited for tea cultivation, may, no doubt, be traced to a good system of management; that is, the young plants have been carefully transplanted at the proper season of the year, when the air was charged with moisture, and they have not been destroyed by excessive irrigation afterwards. The other zemindaree plantation at Lohba might have been now in full bearing had the same system been followed.
From the description thus given, it will be observed that I consider the Kutoor plantations in a most flourishing condition. And I have no doubt they will continue to flourish, and soon convince the zemindars of the value of tea cultivation, providing three things, intimately connected with the success of the crop are strongly impressed upon their minds; viz., the unsuitableness of low wet lands for tea cultivation; the folly of irrigating tea as they would do rice, and the impropriety of commencing the plucking before the plants are strong, and of considerable size. I am happy to add, that amongst these hills there are no foolish prejudices in the minds of the natives against the cultivation of tea. About the time of my visit, a zemindar came and begged two thousand plants, to enable him to commence tea growing on his own account.
It is of great importance, that the authorities of a district, and persons of influence, should show an interest in a subject of this kind. At present the natives do not know its value; but they are as docile as children, and will enter willingly upon tea cultivation, providing the "Sahib" shows that he is interested in it. In a few years the profits received will be a sufficient inducement.
In concluding this part of my Report, I beg to suggest the propriety of obtaining some of the best varieties of the tea plant which have been introduced lately into the government plantations from China. Dr. Jameson could, no doubt, spare a few, but they ought to be given to those zemindars only who have succeeded with the original variety.
Having described in detail the various government plantations, and also those of the zemindars which came under my notice in the Himalayas, I shall now make some general remarks upon the cultivation of tea in India, and offer some suggestions for its improvement.
1. On land and cultivation.—From the observations already made upon the various tea farms which I have visited in the Himalayas, it will be seen that I do not approve of low flat lands being selected for the cultivation of the tea shrub. In China, which at present must be regarded as the model tea country, the plantations are never made in such situations, or they are so rare as not to have come under my notice. In that country they are usually formed on the lower slopes of the hills, that is, in such situations as those at Guddowli, Hawulbaugh, Almorah, Kutoor, &c., in the Himalayas. It is true that in the fine green tea country of Hwuy-chow, in China, near the town of Tunche, many hundred acres of flattish land are under tea cultivation. But this land is close to the hills, which jut out into it in all directions, and it is intersected by a river whose banks are usually from 15 to 20 feet above the level of the stream itself, not unlike those of the Ganges below Benares. In fact, it has all the advantages of hilly land such as the tea plant delights in. In extending the Himalaya plantation this important fact ought to be kept in view.
There is no scarcity of such land in these mountains, more particularly in Eastern Gurhwal and Kumaon. It abounds in the districts of Paorie, Kunour, Lohba, Almorah, Kutoor, and Bheemtal, and I was informed by Mr. Batten, that there are large tracts about Gungoli and various other places equally suitable. Much of this land is out of cultivation, as I have already stated, while the cultivated portions yield on an average only two or three annas per acre of revenue.
Such lands are of less value to the zemindars than low rice land, where they can command a good supply of water for irrigation. But I must not be understood to recommend poor worn out hill lands for tea cultivation,—land on which nothing else will grow. Nothing is further from my meaning. Tea in order to be profitable requires a good sound soil,—a light loam, well mixed with sand and vegetable matter, moderately moist, and yet not stagnant or sour. Such a soil, for example, as on these hill sides produces good crops of mundooa, wheat or millet, is well adapted for tea. It is such lands which I have alluded to as abounding in the Himalayas, and which are, at present, of so little value either to the Government, or to the natives themselves.
The system of Irrigation applied to tea in India is never practised in China. I did not observe it practised in any of the great tea countries which I visited. On asking the Chinese manufacturers whom I brought round, and who had been born and brought up in these districts, whether they had seen such a practice, they all replied, "no, that is the way we grow rice: we never irrigate tea." Indeed, I have no hesitation in saying that, in nine cases out of ten, the effects of irrigation are most injurious. When tea will not grow without irrigation, it is a sure sign that the land employed is not suitable for such a crop. It is no doubt an excellent thing to have a command of water in case of a long drought, when its agency might be useful in saving a crop which would otherwise fail, but irrigation ought to be used only in such emergent cases.
I have already observed that good tea land is naturally moist, although not stagnant; and we must bear in mind that the tea shrub is not a water plant, but is found in a wild state on the sides of hills. In confirmation of these views, it is only necessary to observe further, that all the best Himalayan plantations are those to which irrigation has been most sparingly applied.
In cultivating the tea shrub, much injury is often done to a plantation by plucking leaves from very young plants. In China young plants are never touched until the third or fourth year after they have been planted. If growing under favorable circumstances, they will yield a good crop after that time. All that ought to be done, in the way of plucking or pruning before that time, should be done with a view to form the plants, and make them bushy if they do not grow so naturally. If plucking is commenced too early and continued, the energies of the plants are weakened, and they are long in attaining any size, and consequently there is a great loss of produce in a given number of years. To make this more plain, I will suppose a bush that has been properly treated to be eight years of age. It may then be yielding from two to three pounds of tea per annum, while another of the same age, but not a quarter of the size, from over-plucking, is not giving more than as many ounces.
The same remarks apply also to plants which become unhealthy from any cause; leaves ought never to be taken from such plants; the gatherers should have strict orders to pass them over until they get again into a good state of health.
2nd. On climate.—I have already stated that eastern Gurhwal and Kumaon appear to me to be the most suitable for the cultivation of the tea plant in this part of the Himalayas. My remarks upon climate will therefore refer to this part of the country.
From a table of temperature kept at Hawulbaugh from November 28th, 1850, to July 13th, 1851, obligingly furnished me by Dr. Jameson, I observed that the climate here is extremely mild. During the winter months, the thermometer [Fahr.] at sunrise was never lower than 44 deg., and only on two occasions so low, namely on the 15th and 16th of February, 1851. Once it stood so high as 66 deg. on the morning of February 4th, but this is full ten degrees higher than usual. The minimum in February must, however, be several degrees lower than is shown by this table, for ice and snow were not unfrequent; indeed, opposite the 16th of February in the column of remarks, I find written down a very frosty morning. This discrepancy no doubt arises either from a bad thermometer being used, or from its being placed in a sheltered verandah. We may, therefore, safely mark the minimum as 32 deg. instead of 44 degrees.
The month of June appears to be the hottest in the year. I observe the thermometer on the 5th, 6th and 7th of that month stood at 92 deg. at 3 P.M., and this was the highest degree marked during the year. The lowest, at this hour, during the month was 76 deg., but the general range in the 3 P.M. column of the table is from 80 deg. to 90 degrees.
The wet and dry seasons are not so decided in the hills as they are in the plains. In January, 1861, it rained on five days and ten nights, and the total quantity of rain which fell, as indicated by the rain gauge, during this month, was 5.25 inches; in February, 3.84 fell; in March, 2.11; in April, 2.24; in May, none; and in June 6.13. In June there are generally some days of heavy rain, called by the natives Chota Bursaut, or small rains, after this there is an interval of some days of dry weather before the regular "rainy season" commences. This season comes on in July and continues until September. October and November are said to be beautiful months with a clear atmosphere and cloudless sky. After this fogs are frequent in all the valleys until spring.
In comparing the climate of these provinces with that of China, although we find some important difference, yet upon the whole there is a great similarity. My comparisons apply, of course, to the best tea districts only, for although the tea shrub is found cultivated from Canton in the south to Tan-chowpoo in Shan-tung, yet the provinces of Fokein, Kainsee and the southern parts of Kiangnan, yield nearly all the finest teas of commerce.
The town of Tsong-gan, one of the great black tea towns near the far famed Woo-e-shan, is situated in latitude 27 deg. 47 min, north. Here the thermometer in the hottest months, namely in July and August, rarely rises above 100 deg. and ranges from 92 deg. to 100 deg., as maximum; while in the coldest months, December and January, it sinks to the freezing point and sometimes a few degrees lower. We have thus a close resemblance in temperature between Woo-e-shan and Almorah, The great green tea district being situated two degrees further north, the extremes of temperature are somewhat greater. It will be observed, however, that while the hottest month in the Himalayas is June, in China the highest temperature occurs in July and August: this is owing to the rainy season taking place earlier in China than it does in India.
In China rain falls in heavy and copious showers in the end of April, and these rains continue at intervals in May and June. The first gathering of tea-leaves, those from which the Pekoe is made, is scarcely over before the air becomes charged with moisture, rain falls, and the bushes being thus placed in such favourable circumstances for vegetating are soon covered again with young leaves, from which the main crop of the season is obtained.
No one, acquainted with vegetable physiology, can doubt the advantages of such weather in the cultivation of tea for mercantile purposes. And these advantages, to a certain extent at least, seem to be extended to the Himalayas, although the regular rainy season is later than in China. I have already shown, from Dr Jameson's table, that spring showers are frequent in Kumaon, although rare in the plains of India; still, however, I think it would be prudent to adopt the gathering of leaves to the climate, that is to take a moderate portion from the bushes before the rains, and the main crop after they have commenced.
3rd. On the vegetation of China and the Himalayas. One of the surest guides from which to draw conclusions, on a subject of this nature, is found in the indigenous vegetable productions of the countries. Dr. Royle, who was the first to recommend the cultivation of tea in the Himalayas, drew his conclusions, in the absence of that positive information from China which we possess now, not only from the great similarity in temperature between China and these hills, but also from the resemblance in vegetable productions. This resemblance is certainly very striking. In both countries, except in the low valleys of the Himalayas (and these we are not considering), tropical forms are rarely met with. If we take trees and shrubs, for example, we find such genera as pinus, cypress, berberis, quercus, viburnam, indigofera, and romeda, lonicera, deutzia, rubus, myrica, spirae, ilex, and many others common to both countries.
Amongst herbaceous plants we have gentiana, aquilegia, anemone, rumex, primula, lilium, loutodon, ranunculus, &c. equally distributed in the Himalayas and in China, and even in aquatics the same resemblance may be traced, as in nelumbium, caladium &c. And further than this, we do not find plants belong to the same genera only, but in many instances the identical species are found in both countries. The indigofera, common in the Himalayas, abounds also on the tea hills of China, and so does Berberis nepaulencis, Lonicera diversifolia, Myrica sapida, and many others.
Were it necessary, I might now show that there is a most striking resemblance between the geology of the two countries as well as in their vegetable productions. In both the black and green tea countries which I have alluded to, clay-slate is most abundant. But enough has been advanced to prove how well many parts of the Himalayas are adapted for the cultivation of tea; besides, the flourishing condition of many of the plantations is, after all, the best proof, and puts the matter beyond all doubt.
4th. Concluding Suggestions.—Having shown that tea can be grown in the Himalayas, and that it would produce a valuable and remunerative crop, the next great object appears to be the production of superior tea, by means of fine varieties and improved cultivation. It is well known that a variety of the tea plant existed in the southern parts of China from which inferior teas only were made. That, being more easily procured than the fine northern varieties, from which the great mass of the best teas are made, was the variety originally sent to India. From it all those in the Government plantations have sprung.
It was to remedy this, and to obtain the best varieties from those districts which furnish the trees of commerce, that induced the Honourable Court of Directors to send me to China in 1848. Another object was to obtain some good manufacturers and implements from the same districts. As the result of this mission, nearly twenty thousand plants from the best black and green tea countries of Central China, have been introduced to the Himalayas. Six first-rate manufacturers, two lead men, and a large supply of implements from the celebrated Hwuy-chow districts were also brought round and safely located on the Government plantations in the hills.
A great step has thus been gained towards the objects in view. Much, however, remains still to be done. The new China plants ought to be carefully propagated and distributed over all the plantations; some of them ought also to be given to the zemindars, and more of these fine varieties might be yearly imported from China.
The Chinese manufacturers, who were obtained some years since from Calcutta or Assam, are, in my opinion, far from being first-rate workmen; indeed, I doubt much if any of them learned their trade in China. They ought to be gradually got rid of and their places supplied by better men, for it is a great pity to teach the natives an inferior method of manipulation. The men brought round by me are first-rate green tea makers, they can also make black tea, but they have not been in the habit of making so much black as green. They have none of the Canton illiberality or prejudices about them, and are most willing to teach their art to the natives. I have no doubt some of the latter will soon be made excellent tea manufacturers. And the instruction of the natives is, no doubt, one of the chief objects which ought to be kept in view, for the importation of Chinese manipulators at high wages can only he regarded as a temporary measure; ultimately the Himalayan tea must be made by the natives themselves; each native farmer must learn how to make tea as well as how to grow it; he will then make it upon his own premises, as the Chinese do, and the expenses of carriage will be much less than if the green leaves had to be taken to the market.
But as the zemindars will be able to grow tea long before they are able to make it, it would be prudent, in the first instance, to offer them a certain sum for green leaves brought to the government manufactory.
I have pointed out the land most suitable for the cultivation of tea, and shown that such land exists in the Himalayas to an almost unlimited extent. But if the object the government have in view be the establishment of a company to develop the resources of these hills, as in Assam, I would strongly urge the propriety of concentrating, as much as possible, the various plantations. Sites ought to be chosen which are not too far apart, easy of access, and, if possible, near rivers; for, no doubt, a considerable portion of the produce would have to be conveyed to the plains or to a sea-port.
In my tour amongst the hills, I have seen no place so well adapted for a central situation as Almorah, or Hawulbaugh. Here the government has already a large establishment, and tea lands are abundant in all directions. The climate is healthy, and better suited to a European constitution than most other parts of India. Here plants from nearly all the temperate parts of the world are growing as if they were at home. As examples, I may mention myrtles, pomegranates, and tuberoses from the south of Europe; dahlias, potatoes, aloes, and yuccas from America; Melianthus major and bulbs from the Cape; the cypress and deodar of the Himalayas, and the lagerstroemias, loquats, roses and tea of China.
In these days, when tea has become almost a necessary of life to England and her wide-spreading colonies, its production upon a large and cheap scale is an object of no ordinary importance. But to the natives of India themselves, the production of this article would be of the greatest value. The poor paharie, or hill farmer, at present has scarcely the common necessaries of life, and certainly none of its luxuries. The common sorts of grain which his lands produce will scarcely pay the carriage to the nearest market town, far less yield a profit of such a kind as will enable him to purchase some few of the necessary and simple luxuries of life. A common blanket has to serve him for his covering by day and for his bed at night, while his dwelling-house is a mere mud-hut, capable of affording but little shelter from the inclemency of the weather. Were part of these lands producing tea, he would then have a healthy beverage to drink, besides a commodity which would be of great value in the market. Being of small bulk compared with its value, the expense of carriage would be trifling, and he would return home with the means in his pocket of making himself and his family more comfortable and more happy.
Were such results doubtful, we have only to look across the frontiers of India into China. Here we find tea one of the necessaries of life, in the strictest sense of the word. A Chinese never drinks cold water, which he abhors, and considers unhealthy. Tea is his favorite beverage from morning until night; not what we call tea, mixed with milk and sugar, but the essence of the herb itself, drawn out in pure water. One acquainted with the habits of this people can scarcely conceive the idea of the Chinese empire existing were it deprived of the tea plant; and I am sure that the extensive use of this beverage adds much to the health and comfort of the great body of the people.
The people of India are not unlike the Chinese in many of their habits. The poor of both countries eat sparingly of animal food, and rice, with other grains and vegetables, form the staple articles on which they live; this being the case, it is not at all unlikely the Indian will soon acquire a habit which is so universal in the sister country. But in order to enable him to drink tea, it must be produced at a cheap rate; he cannot afford to pay at the rate of four or six shillings a pound. It must be furnished to him at four pence or six pence instead; and this can be done easily, but only on his own hills. If this is accomplished, and I see no reason why it should not be, a boon will have been conferred upon the people of India, of no common kind, and one which an enlightened and liberal government may well be proud of conferring on its subjects."
I shall now add a description of the Chinese method of making black tea in Upper Assam, by Mr. C.A. Bruce, superintendent of tea culture:—
"In the first place, the youngest and most tender leaves are gathered; but when there are many hands and a great quantity of loaves to be collected, the people employed nip off with the forefinger and thumb the fine end of the branch, with about four leaves on, and sometimes even more if they look tender. These are all brought to the place where they are to be converted into tea: they are then put into a large, circular, open worked bamboo basket, having a rim all round, two fingers broad. The leaves are thinly scattered in these baskets, and then placed in a framework of bamboo, in all appearance like the sides of an Indian hut, without grass, resting on posts, 2 feet from the ground, with an angle of about 25 deg. The baskets with leaves are put in this frame to dry in the sun, and are pushed up and brought down by a long bamboo with a circular piece of wood at the end. The leaves are permitted to dry about two hours, being occasionally turned; but the time required for this process depends on the heat of the sun. When they begin to have a slightly withered appearance, they are taken down and brought into the house, when they are placed on a frame to cool for half an hour; they are then put into smaller baskets of the same kind as the former, and placed on a stand. People are now employed to soften the leaves still more, by gently clapping them between their hands, with their fingers and thumbs extended, and tossing them up and letting them fall, for about five or ten minutes. They are then again put on the frame during half an hour, and brought down and clapped with the hands as before. This is done three successive times, until the leaves become to the touch like soft leather; the beating and putting away being said to give the tea the black color and bitter flavor. After this the tea is put into hot cast-iron pans, which are fixed in a circular mud fireplace, so that the flame cannot ascend round the pan to incommode the operator. This pan is well heated by a straw or bamboo fire to a certain degree. About two pounds of the leaves are then put into each hot pan, and spread in such a manner that all the leaves may get the same degree of heat. They are every now and then briskly turned with the naked hand, to prevent a leaf from being burnt. When the leaves become inconveniently hot to the hand, they are quickly taken out and delivered to another man with a close-worked bamboo basket, ready to receive them. A few leaves that may have been left behind are smartly brushed out with a bamboo broom: all this time a brisk fire is kept up under the pan. After the pan has been used in this manner three or four times, a bucket of cold water is thrown in, and a soft brick-bat and bamboo broom used, to give it a good scouring out; the water is thrown out of the pan by the brush on one side, the pan itself being never taken off. The leaves, all hot in the bamboo basket, are laid on a table that has a narrow rim on its back, to prevent these baskets from slipping off when pushed against it. The two pounds of hot leaves are now divided into two or three parcels, and distributed to as many men, who stand up to the table with the leaves right before them, and each placing his legs close together, the leaves are next collected into a ball, which he gently grasps in his left hand, with the thumb extended, the fingers close together, and the hand resting on the little finger. The right hand must be extended in the same manner as the left, but with the palm turned downwards resting on the top of the ball of tea leaves. Both hands are now employed to roll and propel the ball along; the left hand pushing it on, and allowing it to revolve as it moves; the right hand also pushes it forward, resting on it with some force, and keeping it down to express the juice which the leaves contain. The art lies here in giving the ball a circular motion, and permitting it to turn under and in the hand two or three whole revolutions, before the arms are extended to their full length, and drawing the ball of leaves quickly back without leaving a leaf behind, being rolled for about five minutes in this way. The ball of tea leaves is from time to time delicately and gently opened with the fingers lifted as high as the face, and then allowed to fall again. This is done two or three times to separate the leaves; and afterwards the basket with the leaves is lifted up as often, and receives a circular shake to bring these towards the centre. The leaves are now taken back to the hot pans and spread out in them as before, being again turned with the naked hand, and when hot taken out and rolled; after which, they are put into a drying basket and spread on a sieve, which is in the centre of the basket, and the whole placed over a charcoal fire. The fire is very nicely regulated; there must not be the least smoke, and the charcoal should be well picked.
When the fire is lighted it is fanned until it gets a fine red glare, and the smoke is all gone off; being every now and then stirred, and the coals brought into the centre, so as to leave the outer edge low. When the leaves are put into the drying basket, they are gently separated by lifting them up with the fingers of both hands extended far apart, and allowing them to fall down again; they are placed three or four inches deep on the sieve, leaving a passage in the centre for the hot air to pass. Before it is put over the fire, the drying basket receives a smart slap with both hands in the act of lifting it up, which is done to shake down any leaves that might otherwise drop through the sieve, or to prevent them from falling into the fire and occasioning a smoke, which would affect and spoil the tea. This slap on the basket is invariably applied throughout the stages of tea manufacture. There is always a large basket underneath to receive the small leaves that fall, which are afterwards collected, dried, and added to the other tea; in no case are the baskets or sieves allowed to touch or remain on the ground, but always laid on a receiver, with three legs. After the leaves have bean half-dried in the drying-basket, and while they are still soft, they are taken off the fire and put into large open-worked baskets, and then put on the shelf, in order that the tea may improve in color.