Tea Plantation History

Photography: Salman Saeed

History of Bangladesh tea industry dates back to around 1823 when tea started to be grown for commercial purposes in the Assam forests. Tea plantation in Bengal developed concurrently with that in the northeastern part of India during the early nineteenth century. In 1855, the Assam indigenous tea plant was established in Chandghani Hills of Sylhet.Near about the same time, wild tea was found among Khasiand Jainta Hills. Around 1840, tea plantation started in Chittagong. The first commercial tea plantation was established in 1857 in Mulnichera in Sylhet.

At present, the total number of tea estates are 163 and the total number of tea factories are 114. The total garden area is 115,629.76 ha. The tea is a huge source of revenue for the government of Bangladesh.(www.teaboard.gov.bd)

Tea is a very popular drink for the people all over the world. We all go to the market,buy packets of tea,come back home, make them and drink them,simple.But have you ever wondered where this tea comes from? At what cost do we get to drink this tea? Have you ever wondered about the tea plantation workers and the lives that they lead?


18 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Limana said,

    great work, I think I will get all the necessary information about a tea plantation from your blog

  2. 2

    This is an excellent start. I look forward to seeing more posts. Just pay attention to the width of your photos- I think about 450 pixels across is the largest or else they will be cut off.

    For the tea board web site you might want to just use the proper name and make a link. That will make it easier. You also might want to make it a “permanent” link in the right navigation and make a new category for it as we did with the student blogs.

    Keep up the god work.

  3. 3

    Safeen said,

    its just wonderful!!demand to know more about tea workers lifestyle and all. good start!! keep it up mate 🙂

  4. 5

    sayma said,

    wow!! Nice photo, and an even nicely u write this article.keep it up.

  5. 6

    wow!! Nice photo, and an even nicely u write this article.keep it up.

  6. 9

    razia said,

    Hi salman, you’ve done a valuable service to uncover the subhuman and pathetic way of life that the tea estate culture provides to the tea pickers’ population. These workers work as the bonded slaves! their sosioeconomics can be compared to non other than some upper class primates living in jungles!
    I have lived in those tea estates like some kind of ‘rani’ for which i have always been ashamed of. I was educated and a silent advocate of human rights, yet I could not speak aloud to bring about any positive change in the lives of those down trodden lot who was but the most valuable population..the tea pickers.I had to be silent as I belonged to the sahab-class. Being in the minority could not raise my voice or try reccommending even minor changes in their sub-human lives else invite the wrath of the company bara sahab!
    the irony of all that was the fact that these people did not even realize that they qualify to avail basic human rights!!
    Having a strong personality and a great sense of justice, I was unhappy and rebellious silently in a fake and unrealistic environment! I had almost lost my identity being just a wife of a saheb. All this was suffocating and life had very little meanings!
    You know Salman, not only the workers suffer in those Estates, sometime some mem sahebs do suffer too! Emtional suffering!
    There is so much to tell you! for now its just enough.
    I congratulate you on your research and a realistic presentation of ” The Lives Of The 21st Century Slaves On The Tea Estates”
    all the best! keep up the good work

    • 10

      rasheeka said,

      thanks for appreciating my work ma’am.:)..sorry for such a delayed response,i was unwell.my name is raisa.salman is the photographer who took the pictures.:)..you have given me a different dimrnsion to think about.i have never given this aspect a thought before.can i please have your e-mail address.i wolud really like to get in touch with you.:)

  7. 11


    Please visit my blog. I have made a 10 minutes short film titled ‘ Black Leaf’ . The film has received official selection at 2009 Montreal World Film Festival. Its just a start. Any one interested or the creator of this blog is welocme to have a copy.

    Very useful and productive this blog and I am happy to support. Need some more about ‘ Babu’ and the relationhip between ‘ Babu’ and the labourer. I am aware the workers do not like the word ‘Kuli’ but for research perpouse we need to openly talk about it.

  8. 12

    shakil said,

    its very nice to see somebody is doing research on tea.as a planter son i m feeling very good to see it.i wish all the success to the writer and request to do some research on life of a tea planter.i hope u will get a nice story.if u need any info plz contact on shah_shakil@hotmail.com
    thnx again.

  9. 13

    Nadine-Ananda said,

    Congratulation Raisa for your goo iten and thank you to permit us to share your work. This subject interest me and I would like to discuss more with you. I’m from France. Do you have an e.mail adress ?

  10. 14

    D O said,

    I just watched a film of Tea laborers being beaten with sticks in the streets while police looked the other way and let them be murdered. They were treated worse than dogs and the cows they pretend are gods.

  11. 15

    M S Alam said,

    You have done a wonderful job! An attempt of elaborating it further would make it even better. Well done! Thank you.

  12. 16

    Raisa, Great work. congratulation !. It is important to bring the issues of Tea Plantation workers in our region. I also work with the Tea Plantation workers in Sri Lanka, on the issues of human rights and social justice of the workers which is one of the poorest and discriminated group in the island. We work through a development organization as none as Human Development Organization (HDO) and a Trade Union . We are willing to work with you on the issues of tea plantation workers in the region. thanks for your initiation. – Siva

  13. 17

    robert mcdermott said,

    I grew up as a part of my life in the Tea gardens, in srimangal, that is where my uncle worked as a mechanic, also my Grandfather first worked at the chittagong tea estate his name was Mr. Ted Powell.

    Your photo shoots was so nice it took me back years, all tea estates were like a little city with all essentials found within the estate.

    Keep up your good work, what you said in your articles were pretty spot on.

  14. 18

    nitesh kumar said,

    i see the photograph it very nice and itold you this article its very nice

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