Almost everyone in India has at least once tasted the amazing power drink called Tea. Across the nation, there are several variations of this tea available. The consumption of Tea in India dates back to the Ramayana but it got accelerated only in the 19th century, after the establishments by East India Company in Assam and Darjeeling.
Today, we call it as ‘Chai’. What looks so simple and easy to prepare, the ‘Chai’ in India is highly valued. The love for tea in India is very evident in its figures of production and export. Almost 95 percent of the tea produced is consumed by Indians themselves. We all love it and in ways it takes a very important place in our day to day life.
The question of why chai is loved so much has several answers. One of the reasons is the fact that it can be easily prepared. The reason behind having a tea in the morning is the fact that it wakes you up with a mouth burning effect and nostalgic flavours. It is quite cheap and easily available if you want it ready made. People usually welcome guests with a cup of tea and have hours of conversations with multiple reps. You might be working in rich, leading MNCs but one cannot survive without breaks in afternoon filled with light conversations over a cup of Chai. Whether you are rushing for a metro to the office or sitting peacefully on a weekend evening in the courtyard, tea is the inevitable part of daily life. There are at least three times the vessel goes up on the stove for the preparation this addictive elixir.
The consumption of tea in India is so humongous that often people question if it really helps or if it has some benefits. In general, there are many benefits of having a tea at a specific time of the day. If it’s the morning time, tea is good for drawing out sleep and laziness. If you feel all stuffy and heavy inside in the afternoon, a cup of tea can help in improving digestion. After the day long hard work and pain, nothing more than chai and home can burst out the balloons of stress and tiredness.
People do consume it more than thrice a day just for the sake of taste or their addiction to it. Talking to people, especially in their early 40s, I have experienced that Chai for them is like the immunity potion for a survivor in a jungle. Medical studies claim that apart from these many benefits, there are several good things about tea. It is claimed that tea helps in improving health and immune system. The validity of these claims is debatable but mostly accepted to be true.
Now that we know everything about the tea in general, let’s explore the variations of tea being prepared across the nation. Starting from the top, the tea in hilly areas is quite strong and free of milk. It is very refreshing and bland. In the middle parts of the country, the milk gets added and sugar is used in sumptuous amounts. Lower down, the milk and everything remains the same but there the use of sugar is very less. However, the choice is very subjective from person to person. There are variations such as ‘Masala Chai’ and ‘Pheeki Chai’ which are two of the very popular types. In addition to this, people use cardamom, basil leaves and other herbs available in their regions in preparation of the tea. During the winters people prefer tea with ginger or cardamom while in summer they keep it light and simple.
Chai is very close to the heart and lifestyle of every Indian. We might have progressed in any field but the drawing room conversations and office meetings still have this elixir called ‘Chai’. Enjoy every sip of tea whenever you feel the need. Keep sipping, keep smiling.
By Abhishek Kumar