Assam is among those Indian states that draw a huge number of travelers every year. However, it is not only the amazing wildlife and natural sightseeings of Assam that lure the visitors over the years. The tea tourism is another USP of the north eastern state. The state is replete with tea gardens and estates which double up as centers of tourist attractions. Those opting for a tea tourism packages in Assam should not miss out visiting the amazing Tocklai Tea Research Institute, located in club road of Jorhat.
History of the Tocklai Tea Research Institute
The roots of tea plantation in Assam can be traced back to the British era. The Jorhat region in Assam is home to several important tea gardens and some of these now serve as major tea tourism destinations in the state. To enhance productivity and quality of tea harvest in the North east India tea gardens, most of which were owned and setup by the British rulers, the Tocklai Experimental Station was set up in 1911. It was a result of alliance between Agricultural and Horticultural Society of Bengal and the Indian Tea Association. This is the oldest and largest tea research institute of Asia. Much later, the organization was rechristened as the Tocklai Tea Research Institute.
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The nuances of Tocklai Tea Research Institute
Since its inception, the Tocklai Tea Research Institute has come a long way and its contribution to development of new tea species in the NE region is immense. Till date, it has invented more than 200 species of tea. The scientists working here have invented over a dozen types of tea seeds. Research is done on various types of tea processing and cultivation. The aim is enhancing flavor and nutritional value of the beverage. There are 8 research sections in the institute including botany, biochemistry, plant protection and agronomy. It plays the role of advisor to over 1000 tea estates located in India. It has also started advisory to tea gardens outside Indian Territory.
Tour of the Institute
A lot of tourism agencies offering tea tourism in Assam include the Tocklai Tea Research Institute in their packages. Tourists from other states as well as foreign visitors witness the stages of tea processing and department of the institute up close. A number of schools also conduct tours to let their students get firsthand knowledge of tea processing post harvest. The scientists enlighten the students and explain nuances of tea harvest and processing.
Related: Amazing Tea Tourism in Assam
Taking tea cultivation beyond Indian Territory
While the institute has played consultant to several leading tar gardens in India, both in Assam and outside Northeast region, it is making inroads into foreign countries. The scientists have been approached by companies hailing from countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Turkey and Russia in recent times. In fact, the institute is now offering expert consultation in processing of tea and other beverages to overseas companies. Thailand’s Singha Group has approached the institute to offer expertise to spearhead tea harvest in northern Thailand. Countries from Africa have also sought assistance from it. These offers are likely to pave ways for enhanced revenue generation for Tocklai.
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Wine from tea: A breakthrough innovation
Five scientists working at the institute have made a breakthrough innovation. The scientists, involved with the institute’s Mycology and Micro-Biology departments have come up with ways to develop wine from tea. Amazing as it may sound, the team, led by Dr Prasanta Dutta, have created 3 such wine variants- all sourced from tea leaves! These are Green tea wine, Orthodox wine and - CTC wine. Commercial production is not far away, as per the views of Institute management. The wine produced from tea is absolutely healthy since the tea leaves are free of pesticide. The scientists are of the view Polyphenols present in the wine variants are effective in staving off cardiovascular diseases, dementia and some forms of cancers.