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Tea in India

The tea tradition originates from China, but India is today one of the main tea producers as well as tea consumers. The history of Indian tea cultivation began during the early 19th century, when the European tea craze had reached immense heights. The East Indian Company did not wish to depend on China and looked for new ways of obtaining the precious commodity. The first British experiments with tea plants were carried out in Assam in North East India, but the plants did not grow well. (The same type of seeds was later planted in Darjeeling in North Indian, where the plants thrived.) In 1820, botanists did however discover wild tea plants in Assam.

These plants were of course adapted to the Assam climate, and formed the beginning of the successful Indian tea industry. Since tea had never been cultivated in India, the production did not function properly until after a few decades. Eventually, India did however emerge as one of the main tea producing countries and tea from India is still highly sought after today.

A vast majority of the Indian teas are cultivated in one of three main tea producing regions: Darjeeling in North Eastern India, Assam in far North Eastern India and Nilgiri in South India. Since these three regions vary when it comes to soil, climate and other geographical conditions, each region produces its own characteristic tea.

Chai is the word for tea in many languages, but in English speaking countries the word chai refers to a special type of tea-drink that developed in India. Chai is pronounced as a single syllable word and rhymes with ‘eye’. Traditional Indian Chai consists of strong black tea, milk, some form a sweetener and various spices. Cinnamon, ginger, pepper and cardamom are all popular ingredients in chai, but the drink can contain a wide range of other spices as well. It is common to choose spices that have a beneficial effect on the digestive system.


Tea in the United States

Tea was consumed in North America long before the formation of the United States. In 1670, British colonists started to drink imported tea, but it would take more than 20 years before this rare commodity was made available to the public. The inhabitants of New York City were already familiar with tea, since New York used to belong to the tea loving Dutch. Eventually, tea gardens were created in New York City where the people could enjoy a nice cup of tea made from spring water.

Around 1720, tea had become an important part of the trade between the North American colony and Great Britain.

Boston, New York and Philadelphia formed three centers for tea trade. The British had enforced a heavy tax on tea trade, and smuggling tea into America was therefore a lucrative business. The colonists also learned how to make traditional herbal teas from the Native Americans.

Tea was not the only thing heavily taxed by the British – newspapers and many legal documents, including marriage licenses and docking papers, were also subjected to significant tolls.

In June 1767, a raised tea tax turned into a marking point in history since the colonists rebelled against it by openly purchasing tea from the Dutch.

In December 1773, the tense situation between the colonists and the British lead to the famous Boston Tea Party where colonists threw hundreds of pounds of tea into the water. The British answered by closing the port of Boston and make royal troops occupy the city; a decision which led to the beginning of the American Revolution.

When the American Revolution was over in 1789, the Americans started their own trade route to China. America had rapid clipper ships that could outsail the British, and the American tradesmen were willing to pay the Chinese gold instead of opium. Famous American millionaires Stephen Girard of Philadelphia, John Jacob Astor of New York, and T. H. Perkins of Boston all made their fortunes during this period


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