“Chai” is a Hindi word for tea. Originally introduced in India by the British to end the tea monopoly in China. It soon started growing its roots in Indian culture. After the British left, chai started to dominate in India as a everyday drink. Ceylon (Sri Lanka) is also one of the leading countries
producing and consuming tea. It’s said that the Royal Family of the United Kingdom drinks Ceylon tea.
India is the second largest tea producer in the world, right after China. However, more than 70% of tea is consumed within India. Looking at the popularity and dependency, in 2013, India’s Planning Commission put plans to declare the tea officially as the National Drink of India.
The dominance of tea in Indian culture
Tea stalls are found in every street and corner of India. The country with one-third the size and four times the population of the US consumes three times the amount of tea as compared to Americans. In figures, the country consumes 837,000 tons of it every year.
Depending upon the region and the blend of tea, the taste of this beverage differs from place to place. Tea is a way of life. From a smallest road-side vendor to a top-rated five-star hotel, everyone serves it with their best efforts. It’s on trains, buses, mills, offices, colleges, planes and almost every place in India you can think of.
Chai is simply more than a cup of tea in India. It has become an integral part of official meetings, cultural activities, meet-ups, hospitality, conferences, symposiums, get-together and the like. The Indian Prime Minister’s ‘chai pe charcha’ (discussion over tea) was introduced as one-to-one interaction with Indians through video conferencing. On his recent visit, Barack Obama thanked Mr. Modi for ‘chai pe charcha’ a private tete-e-tete over tea.
Beyond religions, the beverage has become a drink that everyone in India lives on. In fact, tea stalls in India are no less than a meeting point for people from all walks of life. You may find it surprising that in villages and towns, finding a particular person is easier on his favorite tea-stall than his house. Drinking tea from a saucer has been also used as a signature gesture in many Bollywood movies including ‘Sarkar’ starring Amitabh Bachchan, a renowned Bollywood actor.
Amazing stories associated with teas in India
The term chai-wallah was not known to the world until the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, has spread a word about it. Lots of media covered his story from being a normal chai-wallah to becoming the Prime Minister of India.
New Lucky tea stall in Ahmedabad is the place where you enjoy sipping ‘chai’ by sitting next to a grave! The stall (known as ‘kitli’ in Hindi) is run by a man who started this business selling tea around grave years back. According to the customers, the presence of shrines makes one feel the presence of God and drinking tea there is more than drinking a beverage. May feel that the place is blessed and starting a day with tea here will make all their worries go for the rest of the day.
A local tea-seller in India has visited 16 countries all across the world. The seller has only the ‘kitli’ as his source of income.