Rising Asia Journal
Rising Asia Foundation
ISSN 2583-1038


School of Humanities, Tsinghua University

Adventure of Plants (Part I): Botanical Blueprint of the First Tea Industries in South Asia in the Early Nineteenth Century


This study, the first of a two-article series, tells the story of the beginning of the South Asian tea industries through botanical imagination and incubation. The two articles rewind the history of universal botanist entrepreneurship through the journey of the tea plant across the Bengal Region. The first article sketches how during the late-eighteenth and the early-nineteenth centuries, botanists depicted blueprints of tea planting and wrote up business plans. Botanists lobbied the British colonial authorities in India and Ceylon to encourage and experiment on tea cultivation, and ignited public enthusiasm for the tea planting business in the region. The second article, to be published in the next issue, tells how botanists transformed their plans for tea planting into actual action with increasing enthusiasm in South Asia for tea plantation since the 1830s. With the help of botanists and a burgeoning botanical infrastructure in India and Ceylon, tea planters established a successful South Asian tea industry for the world. To research his tea series, the author traveled since January 2023 to Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom, and hopes to continue his expedition to other tea producing countries such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Japan, and Brazil. Through research, he expects to reconnect the global migration of tea plants with China’s “Huizhou tea” and Pu’er tea” in the future, and to witness how the tea plant unites modern global humanity.

Keywords: the tea plant, botanists, botanical gardens, India tea, Ceylon tea[1]

Due to the indefatigable researches of Capt. Jenkins and Lieut. Charlton, [the Assam tea plant] to be by far the most important and valuable that has ever been made in matters connected with the agricultural or commercial resources of this empire. We [Tea Committee] are perfectly confident that the tea plant, which has been brought to light, will be found capable, under proper management, of being cultivated with complete success for commercial purposes, and that consequently the object of our labours may be before long fully realised.[2]
-- Committee of Tea Culture, December 24, 1834, Calcutta.

The tea plant thrives so luxuriantly upon our hills at an elevation slightly above that suited for coffee cultivation, that it is difficult not to believe that our slopes will before very long be covered with thriving tea plantations.
The different kinds of tea are being propagated to some extent for the purpose of supplying seeds to persons who would undertake to sow them and carefully cultivate the plants raised from them.[3]
-- George Henry Kendrick Thwaites (in 1870 & 1871), Director of the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.

Described by the British writer Henry W. Cave as the “cup that cheers,” Assam tea and Ceylon tea are among the most appreciated geographical brands of food and beverage products in the world. One might speculate that any entrepreneurship is the combined effort of a business plan, initial capital investment and perhaps a bit of luck. The great tea entrepreneurship in South Asia is often discussed, academically and historically, through the lens of capitalism and its different variations. But this article treats the diversified concepts of “capitalism” with caution, not only because they indeed have complex and varied connotations, but it may also be quite easy to get caught on the slippery slope of “enemy designation” that “capitalism” resides at the root of every misfortune and miss the other factors. This article prefers to tells a different story of capitalism, a type of capitalism not so “capitalistic,” or not quite by typical capitalists, but incubated and nurtured by botanists. Until the 1830s, colossal capitalist entities including the East India Company shunned the idea of serious investments in tea cultivation in the unknown frontier forests. But some botanists thought otherwise. They believed that tea production could have huge potential in South Asia. Those botanists explored, experimented, and achieved the novel idea of tea cultivation, dispersed worries about the feasibility of tea planting, and incubated the primordial tea industries in Assam and Ceylon.

The history of tea and plantation capitalism is seeing renewed interest as a topic of academic dialogue. In his work that compares nineteenth-century tea producers in Eastern China with Assam, Andrew Liu explores the different derivative forms of plantation capitalism in those two places: both of them do not quite fit into the classic liberal capitalism paradigm. In the Assam plantations, the contract laborers were not “free,” whereas in China’s tea provinces, traditional family workshops imitated and competed with overseas corporate tea plantations.[4] The colourful diversity of industrial relations ushered the Oriental communities of the nineteenth century into a new age. This new commercial age was sometimes called the “Capitalocene,” or the Plantationocene, and as “plant capitalism” in the case of commercial plantations.[5] The capitalism of plantations not only stood out in its characteristic relations of production, mostly the relations between management and labor, but also featured in the relations between the corporate and the environment. Human labor—along with cash plants, the climate, soil, and ecology—toiled under the command of the balance sheet to make products by working with local ecology.

But it might be inaccurate to assume that the balance sheet alone was capable of hatching plantations on such a phenomenal scale in Asia and around the world. As this article will show, capitalists did not single-handedly incubate the tea industry in South Asia. Before the establishment of commercial plantations, the lush wild forests in South Asia more often appeared as a business quagmire which risk-averse foreign investors sought to avoid. Botanists, sometimes with multiple occupational roles including academics, military surgeons, officers, and clergy, became the early experimenters in the tea business. Here we may add another element to the concept of the Plantationocene, which indicates a time and a system that features not only the employment and production of natural plants, but also the presence of botanist-capitalists, as those that nurtured the future of the vast tea industry in South Asia.

Following the above idea, this article discusses how botanists in the nineteenth century contributed to the start-up of the tea industry in South Asia and how the tea plant traveled across the Bay of Bengal. This study concentrates on the stories of tea planting in India and Ceylon, and illustrates how botanists played a vital role in the incubation of the tea industry in South Asia, first in Assam, and then spread it to Ceylon. The first two sections discuss how botanists envisioned tea cultivation in India and Ceylon from the late-eighteenth century to the early-nineteenth century, including the early claims about indigenous wild tea in Ceylon. The next two sections explore how business designs and projects were achieved through the devotion of botanists. Those sections study two historical cases—the discovery of indigenous tea in Assam and the flow of tea plants to Ceylon with botanical organizational connections. The article shows that academic and commercial interests sometimes overlapped with blurred boundaries to the extent that science and business often defined each other’s meaning, hence the link between merchants and academics. As Easterby-Smith suggests, commercial networks, mainly plant traders and commercial organizations, were important conduits for the inter-continental flow of plants during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Those merchants, sometimes semi-professional botanists, also took part in the formation of a modern botanical scientific community, playing the role of knowledge nodes between academic scholars and the general public. The emerging public interest in botany contributed to the growth of the global botanical commerce networks.[6]

The role of commercial interests within botany is conceptualized in the academic research. Through the concept of “plant capitalism,” the scholar David Arnold writes about the notable botanist Nathaniel Wallich, head of the Calcutta Botanical Garden, and his interest in the study of plants. Arnold suggests that the research of plants was conducted, in the first place, to meet the East India Company’s economic interests and botanists’ professional career needs. This view seems to have fallen into a “unitary rational actor” paradigm.[7] This perception of commercial interest as a motivator presumes that the EIC, as a single actor, chose its rational option with a clear contour of calculated interests. For example, this logic might lead to the (mis)perception that commercial plants including tea were calculated as a priori interests by the Company and it was the Company’s set strategic goal to acquire and cultivate those cash crops as their “capital resource.” Although tea cultivation gradually consolidated as a major profit source throughout the nineteenth century for the EIC, this article will explain that the Company (and the authorities in Ceylon) did not see the cultivation of tea being an important “capital resource” from the beginning. Before the 1830s, tea was regarded only as a major commodity for trade rather than as a form of asset to generate revenue. Not many decision-makers at the top of the Company preferred the cultivation of tea by themselves, choosing to easily import it from the East. In other words, in the early days the content of the Company “interests” was still ambiguous, changing, and not definitely delineated. The EIC was not a personified single entity with universally rational and consistent goals.

While merchants sometimes pushed for botanical research, in other cases botanists also initiated businesses. Such relationship was mutual. It was those botanists’ experiments and lobbying efforts that gradually put tea cultivation on the Company’s top agenda, steering the Company’s macro-mind to choose the cultivation of tea instead of importing it, thus defining what the commercial interest was, and what was not. In this sense we might conclude that the botanists did not simply serve Company interests; they also created the “content” of those interests.

Exchanges of plants and people led to ecological changes in colonial Ceylon. James Webb argues that British colonial authority broke the traditional isolation of the Ceylon highlands. The commercialization process replaced the primeval forests with “scientific” plantations, making way for new cash crops. In the meantime, the traditional Kandyan communities in the hill regions both bore the cost and benefited from the landscape transformation. The transformation was complete during the late nineteenth century when wild forests were scarcely seen and mostly remained in the reservation areas.[8] From a different angle, Sujit Sivasundaram illustrates that during the Portuguese and Dutch times, the landlocked Kandy kingdom still maintained active cultural, economic, and religious relations with the outside world. The British also “recycled” various practices by the former rulers, including the administration and land management practices. Sivasundaram argues that although colonialism deepened the connection between the inland wilderness with the outside world, at the same time it created an administrative “isolation” of the island from the Indian subcontinent.[9]

This article suggests that, in addition to the trend of political alienation, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ceylon also witnessed “commercial integration” with the global market system. While political identities were formed in the names of nations and ethnic groups during colonial modernization, the global market rapidly enrolled local communities and ecologies in Asia into the global supply chain, which resulted in the formation of Ceylon as a famous geographical brand that transcended national or ethnic labels. Such a new movement, powered by fossil energy, changed the local landscape. A global configuration of manpower and ecological resources led to the birth of economic plantations.

The migration of plants during colonization is examined by the scholar Alfred W. Crosby through the term “portmanteau biota,” a mini-ecological system consisting of plants, animals, and micro life that migrated with people. Those life forms emigrated from their homeworld and traveled to the newly settled land where they might have an impact on the local native ecology. The lives of the colonizers also depended on the survival of those migrant animals and plants to provide food and work.[10] While Crosby noticed the migration of the ecological life was an inevitable part of colonization, this article proposes that the “portmanteau” of migrated life forms did not necessarily constitute an integrated ecological system of their own. More likely those migrant people, animals, and plants were only part of the “internal” configuration of the global market system. Other important “organs” of this system are the channels of finance, the infrastructure of transportation for people, plants and goods, including botanical gardens, and the infrastructure of knowledge such as the telegraph. The organic humans, animals, and plants, as well as the non-organic fossil and mineral resources, are the “inputs” of the system: the factors of production that are deployed through the above-mentioned global infrastructure apparatus, for self-sustaining and proliferation. The technological and energy revolution in the nineteenth century greatly accelerated and expanded the scale of deploying those inputs, such as the unprecedented flow of people and plants.

As Eric Meyer argues, the agricultural sector in colonial Ceylon was marked by the dualistic model of commercial plantations and rural villages. Meyer suggests that the plantations in Ceylon were portrayed as enclaves and villages as “hemmed-in” by colonial and nationalist discourses.[11] Plantation Economy in South Asia is marked by a “dual” structure of agriculture, whose products were mainly aimed at the international markets. On the one hand, cash crops such as coffee, tea, and rubber were made at farms with foreign investment, foreign managers, and immigrated labor. On the other hand, local traditional agriculture and rural societies were excluded and separated from the plantation sector.

This article suggests that the double structure brought about by the plantation economy was facilitated by the migration of plants across oceans and continents. This migration changed the local ecological and social landscape significantly. The flow of plants and seeds was conducted by a network of South Asian botanical gardens. Colonialism was accompanied by the arrival of professional botanists and the emergence of botanical infrastructure, for example, the botanical gardens at Calcutta and Saharanpur in India, and those at Peradeniya and Hakgala in Ceylon. The plantations in Assam and Ceylon were examples of the concentration of money, plants, people, and knowledge. The result was the rationalization and systematization of the local ecological environment while integrating with the primordial local social-ecological systems, not only through the coming of overseas plants and species but also with plans for agricultural commercial development and corporate management that led to a rational modification of the landscape.

The following sections will also illustrate the complexity and fluid nature of the meaning of “botanist.” Those botanists and naturalists, often seen wearing multiple occupational “hats,” were merchants, scholars, clergymen, or surgeons. It is observable that the acquisition of academic knowledge went hand in hand with the commercialization of tea plantations. The common practice of explorers playing multiple roles in the nineteenth century explains how those botanical gardens in Calcutta, Saharanpur, Peradeniya, and Hakgala acted as conjunctive nodes between commercial activities and botanical studies. The varied backgrounds of the botanists employed in early nineteenth-century South Asia indicate the flexibility and pragmatism of the East India Company and the British authorities in Ceylon.

1.    Botanist Visions of Tea Cultivation in South Asia

Imagination alone could not make an industrial dream of tea come true. The birth of a successful industry requires the presence of a well-founded production chain, abundant raw materials, efficient processing factories, and a feasible business plan. In the early days of the tea plantations in South Asia, all those key elements were missing. The impenetrable forests in the tropics were not ideal destinations for the risk-averse foreign investors. However, professional capitalists’ lack of enthusiasm was remedied by the fervor of botanists. Those botanical academics took the lead in early tea entrepreneurship. The discovery, transplanting, and cultivation of plants accompanied simultaneous botanical studies. Colonial naturalists and botanists, sometimes part-time, devised industrial plans for the future development of the cash crop business, and studied, collected, transplanted, cultivated, and experimented with those plants.  Experimental cultivation of various cash crops appeared in botanical gardens where research activities, public exhibitions, and business incubation often went hand in hand. The botanical gardens at Calcutta, Saharanpur, and Peradeniya hatched and expanded future tea industries, first in the Himalayas, and then extended the tea industry across the Bay of Bengal to the former coffee estates in Ceylon.

Demand for tea increased in the European market during the late eighteenth century. In 1784 William Pitt the Younger introduced the Commutation Act and cut the tea tax from 119 percent to 12.5 percent in order to reduce smuggling. The act led to a surge in demand for tea from the only import source at that time—China. Facing such a surge in demand and shortage in supply, and worrying over the trade deficit with China, Charles Jenkinson, President of the Board of Trade and 1st Earl of Liverpool, sent an enquiry to botanist Joseph Banks in 1788 about the possibility of commercial tea cultivation in “British Dominions in the East and West Indies” to diversify import sources. He speculated that as Patna in Bengal and Jamaica were in a similar latitude to the tea provinces in China, they might be suitable to grow substitute tea products in the manner of sugar and coffee plantations.[12]

Banks looked into the matter and agreed with Jenkinson. But, at that time, as no one had tried tea production outside China, Banks admitted there still existed a gap in knowledge about commercial-scale tea cultivation. He explained that the problem was not the scarcity of the tea plants; it was proper manufacturing methods that were necessary for the success of producing tea. Banks noticed that

Tea trees are not uncommon in England few Curious Gardens are without them but tho since their introduction into England many attempts have been made to procure from the Infusion of their Leaves a Liquor resembling Tea no one has I think succeeded in the smallest degree the Liquor has invariably been harsh & very disagreeable to the taste

According to Banks, with his help, the French government had already gotten ahead of Britain and tried experimenting with tea cultivation. In 1785, Banks helped acquire 100 tea plants for £50 for the plantations in Corsica. In addition to the know-how of tea manufacture, he found another essential element to be considered for a successful tea industry—the labor cost. Banks observed that preparing the tea leaves was a labor-intensive operation. At that time, he believed the labor cost in the British colonies was more expensive than in England. Banks commented that even with a suitable climate in India, finding labor as cheap as in China was a difficult task to achieve.[14]

Encouraged by Jenkinson and the Board of Trade, and driven by the huge commercial prospects of the potential tea industry in India, Banks began to appeal to the East India Company for experimentation with tea planting. He sought an ally—Colonel Robert Kyd, founder of the Royal Botanic Garden in Calcutta. The Calcutta Garden was opened in 1786 at the suggestion of Kyd, then the superintendent of the East India Company dockyard at Kidderpore, Calcutta. Kyd was elected as the first Superintendent of the garden and held the post till his death in 1793. Dr. George King, a successor superintendent of the Calcutta garden, reminisced in 1888 that the main goal of the garden, at its inception, was to be a place where experiments about plants with economic value could take place. The garden was supposed to be “a horticultural and agricultural garden,” a place combining an aesthetic function to recreate a home-like English garden ambience as well as a commercial incubator for cash crops “which would assist in introducing indigenous Indian products to new markets.” Early agricultural experimental plants included nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, mangosteen, and bread-fruit, but Kyd’s most successful project was tea cultivation.[15] Joseph Dalton Hooker, director of the Kew Botanical Garden and a close friend to Charles Darwin, thought Kyd’s experimental cultivation of the tea plants “among its greatest triumphs.” Hooker wrote words of praise in 1848 that “the establishment of the tea-trade in the Himalaya and Assam is almost entirely the work of the superintendents of the gardens of Calcutta and Seharunpore.”[16]

In a letter addressed to the Court of Directors of the East India Company, Banks and Kyd agreed on the feasibility of cultivating tea in the Company’s territories.[17] Banks suggested that tea cultivation should take place at the foot of the Himalayan mountains at Rohilcund, between north latitudes 28° and 30°, and about 80° east longitude.[18] In the same month, Banks wrote in detail about the possibility of tea cultivation to the Deputy Chairman of the EIC, William Devaynes. Banks argued that India had favorable circumstances suitable for tea. The region was between 26° to 35° latitude, 26° to 30° for black tea, and 30° to 34° for green tea. Banks suggested the first attempt should be on the black tea variety for it was less difficult, and expected to meet some degree of success in Northern India, in places such as Bahar [Bihar], Rungpoor [Rangpur], and Coos Beyhar [Cooch Behar] “where the latitude & the cooling influence of the neighbouring mountains of Boutan [Bhutan] give every reason to expect a climate eminently similar to the parts of China in which good Black Teas are at present manufactured.” Banks also solved, in theory, the conundrum of the technical issues through the employing of Chinese technicians, an idea adopted by C. A. Bruce and the Assam Company half a century . Banks described the matter in these words,

The inhabitants of Canton are now in the habit of Shipping themelves [sic, themselves] on board our India-men whenever hands are wanted: we may therefore with safety conclude that their neighbours at Ho nan [Hunan] may be induced by the offer of liberal terms to follow their example, & moreover to embark their Tea shrubs and all their tools of culture & manufacture, & migrate with them to Calcutta, where they will find the Botanic Garden ready to receive them.[19]

Banks added that the Royal Botanic Garden in Calcutta had cleared 20 acres of experimental land for tea growing with the same latitude as Canton, and under “the able & indefatigable superintendent,” the native workers could be taught by the Chinese technicians about tea growing and producing, thus confident about “the permanent Establishment of the [tea] manufacture.”[20] Banks had high expectations of the possible tea industry with a taint of romantic imagination featuring the economic idea of the era, the popular idea of modern progress, and the free market:

A Colony like this, blessed with advantages of Soil, Climate, & Population so eminently above its mother Country, seems by nature intended for the purpose of supplying her fabrics with raw materials; & it must be allowed that a Colony yielding that kind of tribute binds itself to the Mother Country by the strongest & most indissoluble of human ties, that of common interest & mutual advantage.[21]

The plan did not go smoothly, and early experiments did not meet expectations. Several months later, Banks made some notes in the margins of a report to the Court of Directors which seems to be the feedback from Robert Kyd regarding Banks’ proposal. The notes said that the Royal Botanic Garden in Calcutta in April 1789 sought tea plants and laborers from Canton, but the result was disappointing. Only “the worst Sort of Tea” was sent to Calcutta and no Chinese labor was successfully recruited. Rohilkhand was also observed as not suited for tea cultivation. The point was made through a lens of racial prejudice, that the experimental cultivation failed largely “because the natives are unsubjected,” the climate changed too drastically along the hills, and that the hills were not cleared and the Hurdwar [Haridwar] area was “subject to the Ravages of the [Sikhs].” The notes indicated that “the Bahar Frontier of Buxadawar near Rungpore is better suited to the Culture [of tea].”[22]

In order to acquire tea plants of better quality, Banks instructed a young botanist, Clarke Abel, to join the William Amherst mission to China in 1816 and 1817. Abel collected tea seeds and plants during the mission but all were lost due to an accident on board the frigate Alceste. [23] Disappointed by the Canton imported batch, the Royal Botanic Garden in Calcutta also shifted its focus to the Tibetan plateau for tea seeds and plants. George Forster, a civil servant of the EIC and known for a long journey from Calcutta through central Asia into Russia,[24] went on a mission to Tibet to collect Tibetan tea plants cultivated ‘by the Llamas.’[25] In addition to Forster’s effort, in September 1789 the Royal Botanic Garden in Calcutta acquired tea specimens from “the Bootaners” [Bhutanese] which were believed “not the best sort” and only “an inferior sort” used “to make an inferior tea.”[26] Kyd observed on September 25, 1789 that the tea plants introduced from Canton “have thriven well” in “a most unsuitable soil & climate” since the last mention in April. The tea brought from Tibet was unsatisfactory and “of a very defective quality.”[27] 

Kyd’s proposition for importing and experimenting with tea cultivation was echoed by his botanist colleagues, such as George Govan, who in 1815 recommended a tea industrial prospect in India to the East India Company.[28] Govan was the first superintendent of the Saharanpur Botanical Garden, the second colonial botanical garden in India.[29] Govan’s successor, John Forbes Royle, inherited this commercial outlook. Royle received medical education in London and went under the service of the East India Company, stationed in the Himalayan mountains. In 1823, Royle succeeded Govan as the head of the Saharanpur Botanic Garden and later became a Fellow of the Royal Linnean and Geological Societies. Throughout his career, Royle looked at flora and medicines in India, and studied the commercial value of botanical species. He considered the mountain range suitable for growing tea.[30]

Nineteenth-century illustration of Thea Bohea [left], and Thea Viridis (Assamica) [right]. Source: Leonard Wray, “Tea, and its Production in Various Countries,” Journal of the Society for Arts 9, no. 427 (1861): 135-152.

It is commonly believed in China that both green tea and black tea belong to the same species, Camellia sinensis. Their difference mainly resides in the method of production, although various tea products could be made from different tea sub-varieties and methods. While in the early nineteenth century, European botanists were confused about the difference between the various names of tea products exported from China, especially the distinction between “black tea” and “green tea,” Royle gave the dispute careful contemplation, writing, “whether the varieties of tea known in commerce are due to differences in species, or only to differences in soil, climate, culture, and mode of preparation” was still in doubt.[31]

Royle noted that the botanist, Clarke Abel, of the Amherst mission tended to believe that black tea and green tea belonged to two different species. The green tea leaves were “larger, thinner, and of a lighter colour than those of the black, though growing in the same soil.”[32] The director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, William Jackson Hooker, also agreed that green tea and black tea were distinct species. Hooker described the green tea, or Thea viridis, as “a large, strong-growing, almost hardy, plant, with spreading branches; its leaves three to five inches long, very broadly lanceolate, pale green, singularly waved, with the margin reflexed; the flowers large, solitary, mostly confined to the upper axil.”[33]

Hooker observed that the flowers of Thea viridis appeared in autumn, six weeks or two months earlier than the flowers of the black tea, or T. Bohea, which was of smaller size, with remarkably erect stiff branches; leaves not above half or two-thirds the size of the former, perfectly flat, more coriaceous, of a dark green, bearing in the axils of numerous leaves two or three flowers, which are smaller, and have a slight fragrance, and are in perfection during winter.[34]

Other botanists disagreed. According to Royle, John Reeves, botanist and representative of the EIC in Canton, informed him that the green and black teas might come from the same species. Although the difference between green tea and black tea was only in terms of the production methods, Royle himself preferred the two-species theory, in line with the mainstream botanical opinion which, at the time, believed

nothing can be more distinct, than the large, membranous, light green, wavy leaf, with large and irregular serratures, and straggling habit of the green-tea plant, from the smaller, flat, thick and coriaceous, dark green leaf, with small and even serratures, and erect port of the black tea.[35]

Royle noticed the geographical distinction between the cultivating provinces of green tea and black tea in China, that green tea was produced in the northern provinces and black tea was more likely produced in the southern provinces. According to Royle, the green tea plant was able to bear more coldness such as in Europe, whereas the black tea plant could only survive in “sheltered situations” and warmer places. Royle concluded that the tea-plant thrives best between 23.5° and 30° of north latitude with the best locations for international trade between 27° and 31° latitude. Moreover, southern areas, as Royle suggested, were not suitable for tea growth unless at high altitude, for example, a place at the tropical line with an elevation of 10,692 feet, or at 10° latitude with 6,732 feet, or 20° with 2,772 feet. Royle assumed that the islands of Java and Ceylon were not suitable for tea cultivation because all the vegetation was tropical and without contrast of seasons.

By comparing latitude, temperature, and vegetation, John Forbes Royle found a resemblance between the flora of Indian mountains and the southern provinces in China, where tea plants were cultivated. Royle wrote, “It cannot be a difficult task to transfer from one country to another a plant, which grows naturally and is cultivated extensively, in one which possesses so many of the plants which are common to the two, and not found elsewhere.”[37] Royle concluded, “There is little doubt, therefore, that many situations fit for the growth of the tea-plant, may be found in the Himalayas.” But Royle thought it might not be a good idea to apply to the cultivation of tea in India the exact same latitude as the tea provinces in China, because the same latitudes were warmer in India. Royle believed necessary customizations were needed to prepare a marketable tea with good taste and quality.[38]

Contrary to Joseph Banks, Royle observed that the labor cost in India was actually cheaper. In China a tea worker usually earned eightpence per day, whereas in India a full-time worker earned no more than fourpence, and women and children got even less. Royle suggested a step-by-step approach to the development of the Indian tea industry. At first, the tea experimented with might not have the finest flavor which could be sold for consumption in the Asiatic markets. Through the establishment of those tea industries, Royle expected to achieve great development of the Hill provinces in India, and to expand trade with the “Tatar nations” in Northern and Central Asia, with all Asiatic nations and “even the natives of India.” Consumers in Asia would “procure even the most inferior kinds in cases of sickness.”[39] In 1827, Royle drafted a report to William Amherst, Governor-General of India, recommending the possibility of growing tea in the Himalayas.

It [the tea plant] does not appear by any means so delicate or so limited in geographical distribution as is generally supposed. It is said to delight particularly in sheltered valleys, the declivities of hills, or the banks of rivers, where it enjoys a southern exposure to the sun. These warm situations do not, however, appear to be essential to its welfare, as it is found on the rugged tops of mountains; and although it appears to attain the greatest perfection in the mild climate about Nankin, yet it flourishes in the northern latitude of Pekin and in Japan, as well as about Canton; and thus appears to be confined within the parallels of 20° and 40° of northern latitude.[40]

Later in 1831, Royle again raised the issue with William Bentinck, the Governor of Fort William in Calcutta, when he visited the Saharanpur Botanic Gardens. Royle wrote how he had experimented with tea cultivation, like his counterparts in the Calcutta garden, and that “the plants of China” succeeded in the Saharanpur Botanic Gardens and were kept “in a flourishing state”—[the introduced plants from China] “now appear so perfectly naturalized as to excite the wish to make a more extended trial, and to attempt the cultivation of the tea plant, of which the geographical distribution is extended, and the natural sites sufficiently varied to warrant its being easily cultivated.”[41]

Despite the botanists’ endorsement of tea cultivation during the years before the 1830s, the East India Company’s top circle did not take major steps to start a tea enterprise in India. Tea transplanting and experimentation mainly remained the initiative of the botanists and within the botanical gardens in Calcutta and Saharanpur.

In the 1830s, however, the trend began to change with Royle’s successor Hugh Falconer, who shared the same goal of advocating a commercial tea industry in the Himalayas. During the 1830s, the East India Company began considering tea cultivation in their territories in India to diversify the supply of tea products. At this time, there was a dual setback to colonial trade. First, the Charter Act of 1833 deprived the Company of its commercial monopoly over the tea trade, and second, in Japan and China the 1830s witnessed conservative and negative attitudes about trading with European powers.

Yet, the case for the creation of a tea industry strengthened as tea consumption rose in . On the demand side, the first half of the nineteenth century witnessed a surge in tea consumption in European markets. For example, the purchase of low quality tea attracted a tax of 200 to 400 percent in England, while the high-end ones were taxed at 50 to 100 percent.[43] In January 1834, William Bentinck, now the Governor-General of India, proposed the creation of the Tea Committee to officially look into the possibility of inaugurating a tea industry in India.

At this stage in the story, mention must be made of Hugh Falconer who took tea cultivation forward. Born in 1808 at Forres in the north of Scotland, Falconer received higher education in classical literature and science at the University of King’s College, Aberdeen, and was especially fond of Natural History. After completing Master of Arts at Aberdeen in 1826, he went to Edinburgh to study Medicine. In 1829, Falconer received the degree of Doctor of Medicine from Edinburgh University and was recruited by the EIC as an Assistant-Surgeon. In 1830, Falconer arrived in India to assist with Nathaniel Wallich, superintendent of the Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta, and the next year he was appointed to serve the army station at Meerut in the North-Western Provinces. In 1831, he started exploring the Sewalik Hills, especially the climate, ecology, and geology in the area. At the time, Falconer traveled to Saharanpur and met the superintendent of the botanical garden, John Forbes Royle. The two men found themselves of “kindred tastes and common pursuits”; later, Royle recommended Falconer to become his deputy, and then his successor at the Saharanpur Botanic Gardens in 1832.[44]

Following his predecessor’s keenness for tea, Falconer proposed tea cultivation to the newly founded Committee of Tea Culture in 1834. In his letter to Committee Secretary, G. J. Gordon, Falconer compared the climate and soil in the Himalayas with the tea provinces of China. He concluded there was a great chance of successful tea cultivation in India. Falconer suggested that the Sewalik hill region possessed similar geological conditions to the tea-producing areas in China. He noticed “the soil of the Sewálik hills and of the valley of Dehra takes the character of the rocks. It is dry sandy or gravelly, with a considerable quantity of calcareous matter, and it appears to me to possess the character indicated for the tea districts in China.”[45] The climate of the tea regions in China was similar to “the lower heights, or the outer ridges” of the Himalayan mountains at 29° 30' north latitude (in other words, 29 degrees, 30 minutes of the north latitude), though the Himalayan regions in India had more moisture. Falconer proposed three locations in the EIC territories—“Almora, Subáthu, and Masúri.” Among those, the best place for commercial plantations might be “the hills north of the Dún valley near Masúri” where there was “a gravelly or sandy soil” resembling the best tea cultivation soil in China. Falconer, in his report, formulated the following advice:

  1. The tea plant may be successfully cultivated in India.
  2. This can be expected no where in the plains from 30° N. down to Calcutta.
  3. In the Himálaya mountains, near the parallel of 30° N. notwithstanding some circumstances of soil and moisture of climate, the tea plant may be cultivated with great prospect of success; that a climate here may be found similar in respect of temperature to the tea countries in China; that in the direction and great slope of the hills, the absence of table-land or elevated valleys, and the contracted figure of the existing valleys, are the chief difficulties in the way of cultivation, which may prevent tea from being produced in great quantity on any one spot.
  4. The most favourable ground for a trial is a tract on the outer ridges, extending from 3000 feet above the sea, or the point where the hot winds cease, up to the limit of winter snow.
  5. In the valley called the Déhra Dún, if not the better, the inferior sorts of tea might be produced.[46]

After half a century of lobbying by botanists since the 1780s, the grand business ambition of the botanists finally acquired the interest of the East India Company authorities. The botanical and industrial recommendation by Falconer was endowed by the top decision-makers. The Tea Committee decided to import tea plants from China for commercial and experimental cultivation under the supervision of Falconer in the sites selected by him.[47]

2.    A Sketch of Tea & “Wild Tea Trees” in Ceylon

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Bay of Bengal, a discussion about the possibility of tea production took place in Ceylon. The commercial-scale tea production mostly began in the place of the declining coffee industry in Ceylon in the 1870s. After experiencing a severe coffee leaf fungus, many planters began diversifying into the production of tea. James Taylor, a widely recognized pioneer of commercial tea plantations in the country, made his first attempt at growing tea in 1867 at the Loolecondera estate.[48] The idea of tea had, however, long predated its large-scale commercialization in Ceylon in the 1870s.

The following section will explain that, like their counterparts across the Bay, naturalists in Ceylon imagined a potential tea industry and even a possible indigenous tea species. From a constructivist point of view, this perception of tea and the tea industry laid out the psychological milieu that facilitated the later large-scale introduction of commercial tea plantations as a substitute for coffee. Botanical ideas about tea might have intentionally, or inadvertently, acquainted the general public with the feasibility of tea growing in Ceylon. And when the necessity arose, tea naturally became the ideal plan to replace the declining coffee industry.

Captain Robert Percival was one of those taking an interest in the natural history of Ceylon Island. In 1796, “induced by curiosity, and the contradictory and romantic accounts,” Percival arrived in Ceylon with the British Army. He joined the diplomatic mission to the Kandy Kingdom headed by General Hay MacDowall, who was also the military officer that led the later invasion of the kingdom in 1803.[49] Percival saw the commercial potential of Ceylon Island. He discredited a former European power as the “watchful jealousy of the Dutch,” who “excluded the researches of strangers, and prevented their own people from publishing any observations” of the island. Percival jested about the Dutch colonizers that “many Dutchmen, even of the better sort, had resided on Ceylon for a considerable number of years, without having ever been so much as a few leagues from the coast.”[50]

Percival noted that Ceylon produced many valuable products for commerce. In order to shed a new understanding of those products and to improve “its internal cultivation” and “aiming at a national benefit,” Percival during his three-year stay in Ceylon “visited almost every part of the sea-coast” to acquaint himself with “its natural productions,” and “the present state of its cultivation.”[51] One of the most recommended industries by Percival was the potential for tea plantations, along with sugar. Although not verified, Percival suggested there were indigenous tea plants growing in the forests in the Trincomalee and other northern regions, and drunk by the British garrison. According to Percival, his friend General Josiah Champagné observed that the soldiers at Trincomalee often consumed the tea plants in the following manner: “They cut the branches and twigs, and hang them in the sun to dry; they then take off the leaves and put them into a vessel or kettle to boil, to extract the juice which has all the properties of that of the China tea leaf.”[52]

Champagné noticed that the quality of the tea used by British soldiers was rather good in light of the rudimental process of tea preparation. The plants were first used by the 72nd Regiment and later by the successor 80th Regiment. Percival recorded that an officer from the 80th Regiment sent him a letter describing the plants found in the forests: the tea plants were “of a quality equal to any that ever grew in China.” On receiving this information, he felt it was his duty to recommend to the government cultivation of the tea plants “in a proper manner” with “vast advantages to be derived from the cultivation of the tea-plant in our own dominions,” suggesting that tea experiments should begin as soon as possible.[53]

Percival’s suggestion was echoed by other British naturalists in Ceylon, such as John Whitchurch Bennett. The experience of Bennett shows that the life of an early naturalist/botanist in those days usually resembled a part-time hobby rather than a full-time occupation. The colonial naturalists sometimes held the positions of administrators, magistrates, military officers, teachers, clergy, or surgeons. Bennett came to Ceylon with the British Navy in 1816. After arrival, he went through several career changes at the Customs, the Audit Office, and the Chief Secretary’s Office. The career pinnacle of Bennett was his role as the Magistrate of Mahagampattoo in the south of Sri Lanka.[54] But the administrative chores never caught his real interest. In his spare time, Bennett developed a penchant for the natural environment on the tropical island. His passion for natural history could be seen in his work, A Selection from the Most Remarkable and Interesting of the Fishes Found on the Coast of Ceylon, and a monograph, A Treatise on the Coco-nut Tree. Bennett’s research on the natural history of Ceylon was commended by Governor Edward Barnes at a meeting of the Ceylon Literary and Agricultural Society in 1825.[56] Unfortunately, after this year, Bennett came into disagreement with Barnes over the governor’s alleged judicial of “punishment without trial of certain Cingalese or Malabars or Moors, as the case may be, Coolies or labourers at Colombo.”[57] Perhaps as a result of retaliation by the governor, Bennett lost his office in 1827, was recalled to England, and deprived of much of his pension. The career of Bennett since then went on the decline, his research on the ecology of Ceylon unfinished, or “nipped in the bud by an order to return to England.”[58] Bennett sadly retired to Lambeth, London as a housekeeper, bookseller, and publisher, and went bankrupt in 1839.[59]

Bennett was among the first persons to envision an image of tea plants growing in Ceylon. He spent long hours studying local ecology during his tenure as the magistrate of Mahagampattoo, which was described in the 1834 Ceylon Gazetteer as “a wild and uncultivated district on the south-east coast, between Matura and Batticaloa, 55 miles long, and from 11 to 19 miles broad.” The district consisted of 98 villages, with a total population of 1,332 in 1814. The region was narrated rather inaccurately as one that “exhibits nothing but inhospitable deserts and low sandy plains without water, and unfit for cultivation.”[60]

Bennett noticed that the local people were accustomed to consuming a type of “wild tea” for food and drink. The plant, named Gal-Kuroo by the local communities, had yellow flowers, and was speculated to be a type of Orchis. Local people also consumed the leaf of another plant, Rata-Thé-Kola, meaning the red-tea leaf that resembled the Thea Bohea. Bennett praised this indigenous tea as an excellent drink that could “be greatly improved by the addition of the indigenous lemon grass (Andropogon Schoenanthus, L.) and sugar.” The drink infused with this dried leaf was “a tolerable substitute for Bohea tea.”[61]

On another occasion, Bennett’s colleague, Assistant Staff Surgeon Crawford, superintendent of the hospital at Batticaloa, was said to have found a plant similar to the “real tea,” or Thea Bohea. Bennett wrote that Crawford sent to him a specimen of the tea plant in flower, and made a sketch of it, but himself never had the chance to verify the plant in the jungles. Bennett recorded that the previous Dutch authorities perhaps also made discoveries of the wild tea plants growing in the eastern province of Ceylon.[62]

The claims about wild tea were disputed by Reverend James Cordiner, a military chaplain in Colombo and the principal of all the British schools in Ceylon from 1799 to 1804.[63] As in both cases of Bennett and Cordiner, as well as many other European settlers in South Asia at the time, their identities often overlapped with their multiple career roles—military officer, clergyman, surgeon, merchant, planter, colonial official, naturalist, or botanist. Cordiner was born in late eighteenth-century Scotland, a son of the Episcopal Minister at Banff. He received higher education at King’s College, Aberdeen, where he made impressive progress in Greek studies. On October 25, 1797, Cordiner left Portsmouth for Bombay on board the Anna, a ship of the East India Company. The voyage took several months and Cordiner arrived in Bombay on May 19, 1798. He left Bombay on May 30 and arrived at Madras on June 12 where he took a position at the Military Orphan Asylum and became the sole adult teacher of the 280 boys aged from four to fourteen years old. Cordiner worked for ten months at Madras. After that, he sailed to Ceylon as a military chaplain with the support of Governor Frederick North. Cordiner spent five years in Ceylon and then resigned due to his low salary. On his departure, he was awarded an urn worth 200 guineas to acknowledge his “zeal, attention, and humanity with which he performed the duties of his holy profession.” Cordiner left for Madras in 1804 and returned to Britain the next year.[64]

In the spare time from clergy work, Cordiner took an interest in the botany and local culture of Ceylon. He believed the “wild tea plants” found locally were not the same as those usually drunk by consumers as a beverage, commonly called the “real tea” plants. Those tea-like plants, however, might be relatives of the “real tea” plants. They all belonged to the same genus, were used by the local people, and found growing in General Hay MacDowall’s garden in Colombo. Cordiner noticed some reports about discovering the indigenous wild tea plants in the forests, but unfortunately he never saw the specimens, or was able to verify their credibility. While not sure about whether there existed indigenous tea plants, Cordiner envisioned a bright future for a possible tea enterprise in Ceylon as “a source of wealth to the island” by introducing the China tea plants, reflecting a popular outlook about modernization through agricultural improvement in the nineteenth century.[65]

Early British colonialists such as Percival, Bennet, Crawford, and Cordiner might have held divergent opinions on whether there were indigenous wild tea plants in Ceylon, and if they did exist, and whether they were the same species as the usual ones exported from China and drunk by international consumers. Similar discussions also appeared when indigenous tea plants were discovered in Assam. Nevertheless, those varied opinions all coalesced on one consensus: the country had great potential for commercial cultivation of tea. For example, Bennett in 1843 lamented that “so important an object of commerce” had not been paid attention to by the government. Meanwhile, the discovery of wild tea plants in Assam in the 1830s spurred great interest among merchants and scholars in Ceylon. In comparison, the inactivity of the colonial authorities seemed irresponsible in Bennett’s eyes, “for if it be worth while to cultivate tea in so distant a country as Assam, with all its inconveniencies and dangers, surely it would be a more lucrative speculation, in a colony so much nearer home, and with increased facilities of export.”[66]

The imagination about tea was a common characteristic in the birth of the tea industries around the Indian Ocean region, as the cases of Assam and Ceylon demonstrate. The conception of a tea industry with fulsome prospects was often followed by a discovery of local indigenous “wild” tea plants. In Assam, as the following section depicts, there was a formal botanical investigation of the discovery of the Assam tea plants by the colonial authorities, whereas in Ceylon the indigenous tea plants only existed in legends and had not been recognized by botanical findings. Nevertheless, the imagination of wild teas and the conception of a potential tea industry by colonial authors in their introductory historical guidebooks indeed provided later entrepreneurs with inspiration about the possibility of tea enterprises in all those places.

When investors and planters arrived decades later in the nineteenth century, those prior conceptions of a tea industry met the expectations of capitalists and financiers. With the help of a vibrant international botanical research infrastructure—scientific botanical gardens, and the connections between botanists in South Asia—a  prosperous and fast-growing Ceylon tea industry came into being in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The commercially planted tea species were constantly exchanged between India, China, and Ceylon. Two major journeys of tea plants took place to Sri Lanka from abroad: the first stage occurred soon after the beginning of the Assam tea industry in the 1840s, with the help of cross-border botanists and merchants. The second stage, in the 1860s, saw a major effort of tea promotion by botanists and botanical gardens in Ceylon to offset risks of the coffee plantations brought about by the leaf disease crisis. This process of tea promotion and incubation will be discussed further in the second article of this series.

Note on the Author

Tian Mashuang is a PhD student at Department of History, School of Humanities, Tsinghua University in Beijing. He received interdisciplinary academic training in International Relations, Chinese History, and Asian Studies at Peking University, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Tsinghua University. His research experience covers social sciences, international relations, history, area studies, and Chinese history. Currently, he is conducting PhD research on the Global History of tea, and the ‘Silk Road’ of the Tea Plant across Asia and Africa. The research focuses on the historical and commercial studies of tea, the geographical and industrial connections of tea cultivation, and geographical branding of tea products. The study tells how the tea plant connects the world with universalism and cosmopolitanism. His articles have appeared in English and Chinese journals, including the Rising Asia Journal, Xinrui Weekly, China Public Administration Review, Henan Social Sciences, Southeast Asia and South Asia Studies, and others.


[1] I’d like to express my gratitude to the Editor in Chief, Dr. Harish C. Mehta and the peer reviewers, for their meticulous guidance and valuable insights during the revision.

[2] Committee of Tea Culture, “From the Committee of Tea-culture to W. H. Macnaghten, Esq., Secretary to the Government of India, The Discovery of the Tea Plant in Assam,” The Asiatic Journal 18, no. 71 (September-December, 1835): 207.

[3] “Notes from Dr. Thwaites’ Annual Reports,” Journal of the Society of Arts 25 (January 5, 1877): 119.

[4] Andrew B. Liu, Tea War: A History of Capitalism in China and India (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2020).

[5] Jason W. Moore, “The Capitalocene, Part I: On the nature and origins of our ecological crisis,” The Journal of Peasant Studies 44, no. 3 (2017); Wendy Wolford, “The Plantationocene: A Lusotropical Contribution to the Theory,” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 111, no. 6 (2021); and David Arnold, “Plant Capitalism and Company Science: The Indian Career of Nathaniel Wallich,” Modern Asian Studies 42, no. 5 (2008).

[6] Sarah Easterby-Smith, Cultivating Commerce: Cultures of Botany in Britain and France, 1760-1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

[7] Graham Allison and Philip Zelikow, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 2nd Edition (New York: Pearson, 1999), 23-26.

[8] James Webb, Tropical Pioneers: Human Agency and Ecological Change in the Highlands of Sri Lanka, 1800-1900 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2002), 2.

[9] Sujit Sivasundaram, Islanded: Britain, Sri Lanka, and the Bounds of an Indian Ocean Colony (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013).

[10] Alfred W. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900, 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 89.

[11] Eric Meyer, “Enclave Plantations, Hemmed-In Villages and Dualistic Representations in Colonial Ceylon,” in Plantations, Proletarians and Peasants in Colonial Asia, ed. Henry Berstein, Tom Brass, and E. Valentine Daniel (London: Routledge, 1992).

[12] Charles Jenkinson, “From Charles Jenkinson, 1st Baron Hawkesbury and 1st Earl of Liverpool, April 1788,” in The Indian and Pacific Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1768-1820, Volume 2, ed. Neil Chambers (London: Routledge, 2010), 299-300.

[13] Joseph Banks, “To Charles Jenkinson, 1st Baron Hawkesbury and 1st Earl of Liverpool, May 1788,” in The Indian and Pacific Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1768-1820, Volume 2, ed. Neil Chambers (London: Routledge, 2010), 301-02.

[14] Ibid., 301-302.

[15] “The Centenary of the Calcutta Botanic Garden,” Nature 38 (September 20, 1888): 493-94.

[16] Joseph Dalton Hooker, Himalayan Journals (London: John Murray, 1854), 5.

[17] Banks, “To the Court of Directors, the Honourable East India Company, December 1788,” in The Indian and Pacific Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1768-1820, Volume 2, ed. Neil Chambers (London: Routledge, 2010), 370.

[18] India Board, “Cultivation and Manufacture of Tea in British India,” Correspondence Relating to Assam Tea, Manuscript, 1838-1842, The British Library (December 4, 1838).

[19] Banks, “To William Devaynes, December 27, 1788,” in The Indian and Pacific Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1768-1820, Volume 2, 377-82.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Banks, “Banks's Comments of 23 Oct. 1789, on the Margin of the Report to the Court of Directors, the Honourable East India Company, 8 April, 1789,” in The Indian and Pacific Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1768-1820, Volume 2, 395-97.

[23] Clarke Abel, Narrative of a Journey in the Interior of China: And of a Voyage to and from that Country, in the Years 1816 and 1817 (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1818), 17-18.

[24] George Forster, A Journey from Bengal to England, Vol. I (London: Printed for R. Faulder, 1798).

[25] Banks, “Banks’s Comments of 23 Oct. 1789,” in The Indian and Pacific Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1768-1820, Volume 2, 395-97.

[26] Robert Kyd, “Remarks on Sir Joseph Banks Propositions relative to the Companies Garden at Calcutta 23d Sept. 1789 by Col Kyd, September 23, 1789,” in The Indian and Pacific Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1768-1820, Volume 3, ed. Neil Chambers (London: Routledge, 2011), 50-51.

[27] Robert Kyd, “Abstract of Comments by Robert Kyd on a Report by Sir Joseph Banks on the Garden at Calcutta, September 25, 1789,” in The Indian and Pacific Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1768-1820, Volume 3, 51-53.

[28] George King, “A Sketch of the History of Indian Botany,” Tropical Agriculturist 19 (1899-1900): 731, 97-98.

[29] William H. Ukers, All about Tea, Vol. I. (New York: The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Company, 1935), 134.

[30] “Dr. John Forbes Royle,” The Athenaeum, no. 1576 (Jan 9, 1858): 49.

[31] John Forbes Royle, Illustrations of the Botany and other Branches of the Natural History of Himalayan Mountains and of the Flora of Cashmere (London: Wm. H. ALLEN and Co., 1839), 109-110.

[32] Ibid., 109-10.

[33] Ibid., 110.

[34] Ibid., 110.

[35] Ibid., 110.

[36] Ibid., 25-26, 111-12.

[37] Ibid., 119-24.

[38] Ibid., 124-26.

[39] Ibid., 126-27.

[40] Ibid., 127.

[41] John Forbes Royle, “Account of the Honorable Company’s Botanic Garden at Seharánpúr,” Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 1, no. 2 (Feb 1832): 51.

[42] Harold H. Mann, “The Early History of the Tea Industry in North-East India,” Reprinted from the Bengal Economic Journal (Calcutta: D. L. Monro, 1918), 4.

[43] Gordon Nye, “Tea: And the Tea Trade,” The Western Journal of Agriculture, Manufactures, Mechanic Arts, Internal Improvement, Commerce, and General Literature 4, no. 3 (Jun 1850): 166.

[44] Hugh Falconer, Palaeontological Memoirs and Notes of the Late Hugh Falconer, Vol. I., ed. Charles Murchison (London: Robert Hardwicke, 1868), xxiii-xxvi.

[45] Hugh Falconer, “On the Aptitude of the Himalayan Range for the Culture of the Tea Plant,” Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 3, no. 28 (April 1834): 183.

[46] Ibid., 186-88.

[47] Hugh Falconer, Palaeontological Memoirs and Notes of the Late Hugh Falconer, Vol. I, ed. Charles Murchison (London: Robert Hardwicke, 1868), xxx.

[48] Ukers, All about Tea, Vol. I, 179.

[49] Robert Percival, An Account of the Island of Ceylon (London: C. and R. Baldwin, 1805), 377.

[50] Ibid., 1-2.

[51] Ibid., 2-3.

[52] Ibid., 330-31.

[53] Ibid., 331.

[54] J. W. Toussaint, “Literature and the Ceylon Civil Service,” Journal of the Dutch Burgher Union of Ceylon 23, no. 3 (1934): 120-21.

[55] John Whitchurch Bennett, A Selection from the Most Remarkable and Interesting of the Fishes Found on the Coast of Ceylon, 2nd edition (London: Edward Bull, 1834).

[56] T. Petch, “In Ceylon a Century Ago: The Proceedings of the Ceylon Literary and Agricultural Society,” in Ceylon Antiquary And Literary Register, Vol. 9 (Colombo: Office of The Times of Ceylon, 1923-1924), 60.

[57] “Petition Complaining of the Conduct of the Governor of Ceylon,” in Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 85, 1830 (London: Stationery Office, 13 May 1830), 415.

[58] John Whitchurch Bennett, Ceylon and its Capabilities; An Account of its Natural Resources, Indigenous Productions, and Commercial Facilities (London: W. H. Allen & Co, 1843), 355.

[59] Thomas Perry, Perry’s Bankrupt and Insolvent Gazette (London: F. Griffiths, 1840), 198; and “Bankrupts, London Gazette,” Monmouthshire Beacon, Saturday, January 26, 1839, 2.

[60] Simon Casie Chitty Modliar, The Ceylon Gazetteer (Ceylon: Cotta Church Mission Press, 1834), 150.

[61] Bennett, Ceylon and its Capabilities, 276.

[62] Ibid., 276-77.

[63] James Cordiner, A Description of Ceylon Vol. 1 (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme, 1807), v.

[64] Charles Lawson, Memories of Madras (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1905), 218-23.

[65] Cordiner, A Description of Ceylon Vol. 1, 385-86.

[66] Bennett, Ceylon and its Capabilities, 277.


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