Bombay Chai Party 〜 Till It's Poured into your Cup


Mumbai Street Chai

You may be now enjoying your cup of masala chai served by chaiwala at roadside stall in Mumbai.

You can see chai stalls in every corner of India, where vendors are always busy preparing masala chai for their regular customers --- as if, it is thousands years long Indian way of life.

Yet, this everyday scenes can be seen only since early 20th century in India !!! --- 300 years after British started to enjoy tea drinking in 17th century.

How ? and Why ?

Please listen carefully over your cup of chai......

Step 1 : From India to Britain

Royal Wedding of Charles II, King of England, and Cathrine of Braganza, Portuguese Princess, in June 1661 brougt not only Seven Islands of Bombay (please see my past post "Watch you step ! Property Value in Mumbai"), but also tea drinking habit to Britain, initiallly in the court.

In India, tea was consumed for medical purpose in tea plants grown regions such as Assam in North East.

Step 2 : From China to Britain, from Britain to New England

Tea was imported in Britain by East indian Company and trade ships from East. Most of the tea was supplied from China.

The tea ruined in Boston Harbor during the political protest "Boston Tea Party" in Boston, New England (North East cost of USA) in 1773 was supposed to be, for this reason, Chinese origin products.

Step 3: From Britain to India (introduction)

Tea drinking was very popular in Britain throughout 18th and 19th centuries --- Low Tea (Afternoon Tea) for upper classes, High Tea for working classes --- all social class had the habit of tea drinking.

Tea imported from China (over 90%) covered huge consumption in Britain by 19th century.

After the independence of the United States, Britain gained less silver resources from New Continent.

In order to cover trade deficit between China, British started opium trade to China via India (triangulaire trade). Anti-British movements occured in China when the Empire Qing was depraved by opium consumption.

Commercial production of Tea plantation in INDIA was started during this period by British for fear of lacking tea supply from China.

By 1900, Indian (and Ceylon) origin tea replaced Chinese products.

Munnar tea plantation
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Tea Plantation in Munnar, Kerala, India

Step 4: From Britain to India (Campaign)

Tea drinking had never been a popular culture in India. The consumption had been quite low.

As the growth of tea industry, Indian Tea Association (British owned at the time) launched a promotional campaign in early 20th century to introduce British style tea drinking culture among locals.

Tea breaks was recommended for workers in factories, mines etc...

Tea companies offered free samples. And at this time, chaiwalas appeared.

Additional suger and spices made British style tea into a Masala Chai.

Tea leaves which are used in roadside chai stalls are mostly Assam or Kerala origin (Darjeeling leaf is a bit expensive).

Step 5: From India to You

Thank you for listening, would you like another cup of chai ?

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