Robert Bruce

1789 - 1824

Discovered tea plants growing in India. Born in Edinburgh, Bruce joined the army and eventually found himself employed by the East India Company. Although he was principally involved in establishing opium plantations for the East India Company, he was able to find tea plants growing in the wild in Assam in 1823 having seen the local people brewing a drink using these. He sent specimens to the newly established Botanical Gardens in Calcutta. Previously tea was only known in China and, until 1833, the East India Company held a monopoly there. It was his younger brother Charles Alexander Bruce (1793 - 1871) who established the first tea plantations in India, eventually based on Robert's native plants, now recognised as a distinct subspecies (Camellia assamica).

Bruce died in India and lies buried in the Christian Cemetery of Tezpur.

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