The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Munnar is its beautiful tea gardens. A trip to Munnar would be incomplete without going for a Munnar tea plantation visit. Make sure, it’s there on your bucket list of things to do in Munnar.
History of Munnar Tea Plantation
The early history of Munnar remains lost in time. However, it is believed that the first inhabitants of the region were from the Muthuvan tribal community. The beautiful hills of Munnar were densely forested until 1790 when the Duke of Wellington discovered it. The tea plantation era began in 1870 when Poonjattil Koickal Rohini Thirunal Kerala Varma Valiya Raja leased 588 square kilometers of land in Kanan Devan hills to Scottish tea planter and lawyer J.D. Munro.
Munnar Tea Plantation Era
The credit of starting tea plantation in Munnar goes to a European planter A.H. Sharp. Sharp planted the first tea saplings on 50 acres of land at Parvathi, which today comes under the Severn Mallay Estate. In 1895, Finlay Muir & Company (James Finlay and Company Limited) bought 33 independent estates, and the Kannan Devan Hills Produce Company was established in 1897 to manage these estates.
The monsoon of 1924 destroyed almost all the hills of Munnar and literally redrew the landscape of several places. With large-scale replanting carried out in the coming months, life soon became normal and tea plantation resumed gradually.
In 1964, the Tata Group joined hands with Finlay to form the Tata-Finlay Group. Tata Tea Ltd. was established in 1983, and in 2005, the Kannan Devan Hills Produce Company Pvt. Ltd. was created. Tata Tea transferred its ownership to the new company.
Today, there are more than 50 tea gardens and estates. Harrison Malayalam, Michael’s Tea, Brooke Bond and AVT Tea are some renowned tea estates in the region.
Varieties of Tea
Tea, or Chai as it is popularly known in India, is the most commonly drunk beverage in the entire world. There are three main varieties of the tea plant China, Assam, and Cambodia – and several hybrids between these varieties. The China tea variety is as tall as nine feet (2.75 metres) and has an economic life of at least 100 years.
The height of the Assam variety ranges between 20 and 60 feet. This variety has an economic life of 40 years with regular pruning and plucking. The Cambodia variety, which grows to about 16 feet (five metres) in height, is no longer cultivated. However, it has been naturally crossed with other varieties.
Main Sub Varieties Of Tea
- The tender light-leaved Assam
- The less tender dark-leaved Assam
- The hardy Manipuri and Burma types
- The very large-leaved Lushai
- The dark-leaved Assam plant from Upper Assam.
Overview: Current Munnar Tea Estates
Munnar is often associated with rolling hills carpeted with lush tea plantations. Today, the place is widely recognised as one of the most breath-taking tea estates around the world. It is also one of the major tea trade hubs in India.
There are walking tours that are open to everyone. Due to Munnar’s international fame, Tata Tea has also established a tea museum here. The museum offers insights into how tea is manufactured and turned into a delicious sip of tea.
Things to do at Munnar Tea Estates
Kanan Devan Tea Factory Visit
When you plan a Munnar tea plantation visit, make sure you take out time for a tour of Kadan Devan Tea Factory. The Kanan Devan Tea Factory shows how tea is manufactured from the tea leaf. It is really interesting to see the entire process. The place also shows a 30-minute video about how it all started. Then they allow the public inside the factory. Guests can also taste a cup of tea for only INR5 and buy some tea in several blends.
Timings 09:00 am – 05:00 pm
Open all days, except Monday
Entrance Fee: INR75 for Adults and INR35 for Children
The slopes of tea estates form the perfect backdrop for photographs. However, guests are required to take permission to take photography in several of the tea estates.
Tea Plantation Walking Tour
The pleasing tea plantation walking tour in Munnar is a delight for nature lovers. The panoramic view of the sprawling tea estate is simply indescribable. You need to be here to see the beauty of the place. Transportation is also available, but at an extra cost.
The walking tour is the best way to explore the luxuriant tea estates enveloping the mountain ranges. While you walk through the estate, you’ll notice the lingering sweet aroma of different types of tea grown here. The walking tour provides you with a picturesque landscape of the region.
Enjoy the greenery, silence and the beauty surrounding this enthralling tea plantation. If there is a paradise on earth, then Munnar is definitely it!
Things To Carry For The Tea Plantation Walking Tour
- Jackets due to unpredictable weather
- Cap or hat
- Sunscreen lotion
- Comfortable shoes
- Light snacks such as chocolates, chips, fruits or energy bars
- Water bottles to keep yourself hydrated
- Sunglasses (optional)
- Consumption of intoxicating products is strictly prohibited during the trip
- Wear loose and comfortable clothing
- Please listen to the instructions and guidelines given by the instructors
- Keep the surrounding clean and do not litter
- Authority is not responsible for the loss of personal belongings, so take care of your thing
Witness the simple and remarkable life of the tea workers during your Munnar tea plantation visit.