15. Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze var. assamica (Masters) Kitamura THEACEAE

Tea; Hindi: chai, चाय

The source of the world’s major caffeine drink exists in two wild varieties – the smaller leaved, hardier var. sinensis from China and the larger leaved, more tropical var. assamica native to North-East India. Until 1833 the East India Company had a monopoly of the tea trade, which was supplied entirely from China. Soon after this monopoly was removed tea-growing started in India, where it continues to be a major industry in the North-West Himalaya, Darjeeling, Assam and the Nilgiri Hills. A deputation (including William Griffith and Nathaniel Wallich) was sent to Assam in 1835 to investigate the indigenous variety. In the end it was mainly Chinese forms that were grown in India, which were first introduced in the 1850s by Robert Fortune (who had trained here at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh).

Herbarium specimen collected by William Griffith in Assam in 1835

     

    RBGE Living Collections Accession Factsheet
    Accession Number:19696350
    Scientific Name:Camellia sinensis Kuntze var. assamica (Mast.) Kitam.
    Family:Theaceae
    Genus:Camellia
    Epithet:sinensis
    Plant:19696350B
    Location:/Living Collections/Unplaced
    Plant:19696350A1
    Location:/Living Collections/Inverleith/G45/0430
    Plant:19696350A
    Location:/Living Collections/Inverleith/G17/0210
    19696350 Camellia sinensis var assamica (1).jpg
    19696350 Camellia sinensis var assamica (2).jpg
     Location: 55.966541229,-3.207564217