The Fascinating Journey: Unveiling How Tea Gained Popularity and Conquered India’s Heart

Tea became popular in India due to the efforts of the British East India Company, which actively encouraged tea cultivation and consumption. They promoted tea as a healthier alternative to alcohol, leading to its widespread adoption among the Indian population.

Tea, a beverage deeply ingrained in India’s culture and daily life, owes its popularity in the country to a fascinating history intertwined with colonialism. Here’s a more detailed account of how tea became a beloved and widely consumed drink in India.

During the early 17th century, tea was first introduced to India by the Dutch traders, but it remained a luxury enjoyed by the elite due to its high cost and limited availability. However, it was the British East India Company’s efforts that truly propelled tea into the mainstream consciousness of the Indian population.

The British East India Company played a significant role in expanding tea cultivation and trade in India. They saw tea as a lucrative commodity and began large-scale production in the early 19th century. To popularize tea consumption, the Company launched a comprehensive campaign to change people’s drinking habits and promote tea as a healthier alternative to alcohol.

A quote from renowned author and historian, Roderick Matthew, highlights the British East India Company’s deliberate efforts to establish tea in India: “The British conquest of India is over-romanticized if viewed in terms of arms only. We should place it in the larger context of an ongoing cultural encounter within which Indians participated in determining their own future. Tea is just one example of this cultural dialogue.”

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Interesting Facts about the Popularity of Tea in India:

  1. Assam, a region in northeastern India, became the foremost tea-growing region after the British established large-scale plantations there. Today, Assam is famous for its robust and malty tea.

  2. The Indian tea industry witnessed significant growth during the 20th century, with the establishment of iconic tea brands like Tata Tea, Brooke Bond, and Lipton.

  3. Chai, a spiced milk tea, is the most popular way tea is consumed in India. It is often prepared by boiling tea leaves with milk, water, and a blend of aromatic spices such as cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon.

  4. India is one of the world’s largest tea producers, with the majority of its tea consumption being domestically driven.


The table below provides a snapshot of India’s tea production and consumption:

Year | Tea Production (in million kg) | Domestic Consumption (in million kg)

2016 | 1234 | 991
2017 | 1330 | 1007
2018 | 1396 | 1025
2019 | 1383 | 1051
2020 | 1350 | 1080

In conclusion, the popularity of tea in India can be attributed to the British East India Company’s deliberate attempts to cultivate and promote tea consumption. With time, tea became an integral part of Indian culture and tradition, leaving an indelible mark on the country’s history and taste preferences. As Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, once said, “Tea is just not a beverage in India; it is a thing that we live by.”

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Tea was introduced to India by the British in the nineteenth century, to overcome the monopoly of Chinese production. The first area to be planted was the mountain region surrounding the city of Darjeeling, perched on the Himalayan foothills, in the 1850s.

The video “History of Tea in India” explores the origins of tea in India and its journey toward becoming a popular and beloved beverage. Initially introduced by Europeans, tea gained popularity in high society across Europe and eventually led to the British East India Company turning to India as a cheaper source of tea. The English faced challenges with the Chinese monopoly on tea trade, but they established an exchange of Indian Opium for Chinese tea. This eventually led to the successful cultivation of tea in Darjeeling and Assam. Tea became popular among the English and Indian high-society and later spread to all parts of the country, symbolizing unity and togetherness. Through ad campaigns and price reductions, tea became the national drink of India, capturing the attention of all classes and sections of society. Today, tea is deeply rooted in the daily life of the country and continues to play a central role as a uniting factor and a growing industry.

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More interesting on the topic

Accordingly, How did the British bring tea to India? Answer will be: In 1826, the British East India Company took over the region from the Ahom kings through the Yandaboo Treaty. In 1837, the first English tea garden was established at Chabua in Upper Assam; in 1840, the Assam Tea Company began the commercial production of tea in the region.

Moreover, When did the tea industry start in India? As an answer to this: Robert Bruce in 1823 discovered tea plants growing wild in upper Brahmaputra Valley. A tea garden was started by the Government in 1833 in erstwhile Lakhimpur district.

Why did the British want to grow tea in India?
Answer will be: The growing addiction to opium in China caused the Opium Wars (i.e. 1839-1842 and 1856-1860). Therefore, the British were worried about losing their sources and realized to find somewhere within their Empire to grow the tea plants.

Hereof, Why is tea the most popular drink in India? Response: Even once the British left India, the tea-drinking culture of did not. Tea is the most popular drink across the subcontinent, not only because of the culture, but it’s affordable to even the poorest. Tea is grown in India; it’s a major export from regions like Darjeeling, so locals don’t pay import fees.

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