The tea industry in India is more than 170 years old and occupies an important place in the national economy. Tea plantations in India are mainly located in rural and hilly areas of North-eastern and Southern States. Major tea growing regions of the country are concentrated in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Unlike most other tea producing and exporting countries, India has a dual manufacturing base, producing both CTC and Orthodox teas in addition to green tea.
The major market for Indian Tea is the CIS countries, mainly Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Russia is the single largest importer of Indian Tea. Other prominent markets include the U.A.E, U.K, Iran, U.S.A, Afghanistan, Germany, Australia, Japan, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Sri Lanka, A.R.E & Pakistan. During 2006, the total tea production in the country was 981.805 Million Kg, of which 753.243 Million Kg was the output from the Northern States, and 228.562 Million Kg from the Southern States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
In 2006, Kerala alone produced 59.462 Million Kg of tea, accounting to more than 6% of the national production and 26% of the production from the Southern states.
Idukki and Wayanad are the major tea growing districts in Kerala, followed by Palakkad, Thrissur, Trivandrum, Kollam and Kottayam. The popular forms of tea available in Kerala are CTC (literally means 'Crush, Tear and Curl') and leaf tea. They normally have strong flavour, preferred by the people as a whole. Organic tea production is a major shift in this sector (E.g.: Darjeeling tea), and in Kerala coverage under Organic tea could be increased. Nelliyampathi estates in Palakkad district have already got Organic Certification.