The practice of Ayurveda has resulted in a long standing tradition of herbal tea’s. For centuries tea was only used as a medicine. Consumption of tea in India was clearly first documented in the Ramayana.
Tea cultivation in India has somewhat ambiguous origins. Though the extent of the popularity of tea in Ancient India is unknown, it is known that the tea plant was a wild plant in India that was indeed brewed by local inhabitants of different regions.
In the early 1800’s British East India company started commericial production of tea in India in an attempt to break the Chinese monopoly on tea. In 1837 the first English Tea garden was established at ‘Chabua’ in Upper Assam.
In the 1850s, the tea industry rapidly expanded, consuming vast tracts of land for tea plantations. By the start of the 20th century, Assam became the leading tea-producing region in the world. But despite the discovery of the indigenous Camellia sinensis plant, the tea industry in India began with 42,000 seedlings germinated from a consignment of 80,000 seeds procured from China – 2000 were planted in the hill districts of South India, and 20,000 each in the hill districts in Kumaon in North India and Upper Assam on the Northeast frontier. It was only later that the indigenous plants were used.
India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, with over 70% of the tea being consumed within India itself. A number of renowned teas, such as Assam and Darjeeling also grow exclusively in India. The Indian tea industry has grown to own many global tea brands, and has evolved to one of the most technologically equipped tea industries in the world.
Tea is made both at home and outside. Outside the home, tea is most commonly and easily found at the ubiquitous tea stalls that dot just about every street in India. The tea stall has become a part of the urban landscape and a cultural institution.
In 2013 Government of India recognized ‘Tea’ as official ‘drink’ of India.