India is the leading producer and consumer of tea in the world. The country earns a sizable amount of foreign exchange through export of tea.
Tea grows best on the mountain slopes receiving large amount of rains (above 150 cm). Well drained deep loamy soils, rich in humus is ideal for tea plantation. Most of the tea producing areas are on the hilly slopes of Surma and Brahamputra valleys in Assam, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts of West Bengal.
In south India, tea cultivation is confined mainly to the Annamalai and the Nilgiri hills. A small quantity of tea is also produced in the Kumaon hill in Uttarakhand and in the Kangra valley of Himanchal Pradesh.
India produced 8.5 lakh tonnes in 1999. An amount of Rs. 2000 crores were earned in foreign exchange from the export of tea in 2000-01 despite huge demand in the domestic market.