What this tour is about: It's been a long journey for tea in India. From being used simply as a medicine in the 18th and early 19th centuries, tea has today become an integral part of life in India.
Tea plantations were started in India by the British in 1830's, primarily for export to Britain. Among Indians, tea drinking in the modern sense started only in the early 1900's, when the British-owned Indian Tea Association began an earnest effort to popularise tea in India. They organised several promotional campaigns – tea stalls were set up in cities and towns, factories were encouraged to give tea breaks to their workers, and even home demonstrations were organised. When the railways arrived, tea stalls were set up at rail stations as well. After a slow and dispiriting start, tea drinking gradually spread in India, gaining momentum after the Second World War. By the end of the 1900's, Indians were drinking almost 70 percent of a huge crop of 715,000 tons per year.
The most popular form of tea in India is masala chai; sweet, milky tea spiced with cardamom and cinnamon. "Proper" English tea is also drunk among many communities and classes, especially those who had trading and social relations with the British.
Tea is now grown widely in India. There are over 2000 producers of tea, with the majority of the estates located in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Many of these estates produce very high quality teas and have earned a place for themselves in the international tea market.