Tea has emerged as the most liked beverage in India. Tea or chai is easily found outside our homes. There is hardly any street where you don't find a tea stall. Tea sellers are popularly called chai walas. Tea has become a crucial part in the life of every Indian. Unlike the British cup of tea, tea leaves are not steeped separately they are instead boiled along with water and milk and sugar are added.
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Over 70% of tea in the world is consumed in India alone. India is also one of the largest producers of tea. Areas like Assam and Darjeeling exclusively grow tea along with Tamil Nadu and Kerala. These tea growing estates have made it to the international tea market. There are many variations of tea in India.
Different types of Tea in India. Image source: www.everydayhealth.com
The northeast areas like Assam prefer Sah, Ronga Sah (red tea without milk) and northern Hindi speaking areas prefer Masala chai (spiced tea) or Kadak chai (strong and well brewed tea). 'Malai Maar Ke' is another variation where a gallop of fat cream is added to the tea.
Tea stall in Tamil Nadu, IndiaImage: Wikimedia Commons
It is mostly taken along with breakfast or just after waking up calling it 'bed tea'. The guests are most served with hot tea along with snacks. Ginger is a popular ingredient in tea which improves the taste and also possess numerous health benefits.
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Tea plantations were set up in India during 1830s by the British, their main purpose was to export tea to Britain. Tea drinking from the modern prospective started during 1980s when the British organization, Indian Tea Association started making efforts to popularize tea among Indians. They organized promotional campaigns in several cities and towns. Home demonstrations were provided and factories were encouraged to provide the workers with a tea break.
A number of tea stalls were also set up. When Railway stations were being made, small tea stalls were set up there as well. The English Brooke Bond tea company also distributed tea samples in the country. By the end of 1990s, Indians had developed a great liking towards tea and the tea consumption increased steadily.
Woman plucking tea in a tea plantation of AssamSource: Wikimedia Commons
Indian tea is different from tea in other parts of the world as it contains more of milk and also other immunizers like cinnamon, ginger or Tulsi leaves (mainly in winters). Tea is known to be very good for health. It is known that tea was cultivated in northeastern India much before the British began commercializing it in India.
—by Shubhi Mangla, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter @shubhi_mangla