Held in Eastern Assam every November, India's Tea Festival is a gathering of tea lovers, music aficionados and festive spirits. As India's largest tea producing region, Assam is famous all over the world for its high quality black teas, which are enjoyed in bags or in bulk in many a tea shop. A trip to the tea festival is a journey into the heart of one of the world's premier tea cultures.
The highlight of the festival is the numerous tea tastings that take place, where participants get to sample the various tea varieties grown in the region. Additionally, tea conferences, which often feature leading tea growers and businessmen, are held throughout the festival. Organized trips to tea gardens give visitors the chance to see tea plants growing in both functional and ornamental settings, while a variety of ethnic food stands give the festival a culinary bend. Besides tea-related activities, the festival features a variety of active pursuits such as golfing, white water rafting and fishing.
Assam produces about 50 percent of Indian tea, making it famous in the country as the premier tea growing region. The province of Jorhat, where the annual Tea Festival is held, is also home to the Tocklai Tea Research Center, where new forms of tea cultivation are researched and perfected. Just outside of Jorhat, in upper Assam, the province of Dibrugarh is known as the Tea City of India, because of its dominance as a tea exportation hub. The city of Guwahati, which sits on the banks of the Brahmaputra River, is home to the Guwahati Tea Auction Center, where international tea brokers buy and sell Assam teas to world markets. All of these destinations are close to the tea festival and make excellent day trips for visitors in the area.
Assam teas are known for their deep, almost burgundy color and their full-bodied taste. The most highly sought Assam teas are the second flush, which are harvested right after India's monsoon season and have a rich and spicy flavor. Assam teas are processed from their natural green state and sold around the world as black tea, which is often consumed with milk and sugar.
Jorhat is served by direct flights from Calcutta, a major international air-travel hub. India's vast and frequent train network also makes stops Jorhat, with luxury bus connections to smaller surrounding destinations in the Assam countryside.
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