How did tea come to India?
It is believed that tea was brought to India by the silk caravans that traveled from China to Europe centuries ago, though the Camellia sinensis is also native to India, and grew in the wild long before its true worth was realized. Native Indians used the leaves as part of their diet sometimes, though mostly it was used for its medicinal properties. Used in cooking, in vegetable dishes, or to make soup, it was a long time before it transformed into what’s now famous as chai – a flavourful black tea sweetened with sugar and milk along with spices like cardamom and ginger.
Who discovered tea in India?
An intrinsic part of daily life today, tea was introduced formally to Indians by the British. The origin of tea in India is owed to the British who intended to overthrow China’s monopoly on tea, having found that Indian soil was eminently suitable to cultivate these plants. The evidence of local plants was a great indication that the soil was right for transplanting Chinese seedlings and it was the Assam valley and the looming mountains of Darjeeling that were chosen as early sites for tea planting. After many unsuccessful attempts over 14 long years, tea production in India began to boom, enabling the production of a tea that was equal, if not better, than its Chinese counterpart. Thanks to them, India became, and remains, one of the largest tea producers in the world – second only to China.