India is the second-largest producer of tea in the world. Around 80% of the total tea produced is consumed by the domestic population (1). Tea in India is a gift by the British. India consumes almost 837,000 tonnes of tea yearly, making it India's most favorite beverage (1).
Almost everyone in India begins their day with a steaming cup of morning chai (tea)! It's not just a habit; it's a ritual for most of them. In many households, people prefer milk tea which is black tea mixed with milk & spices like ginger, lemongrass, cardamom, cinnamon, etc. This spiced tea is then brewed strongly and sweetened with sugar.
However, the consumption of non-milk tea without sugar is now trending because of the emergence of lifestyle diseases like CVD, hypertension, diabetes, PCOS, etc. Green tea is gaining a lot of popularity in this segment due to its potential health benefits (1). It is considered as a health beverage.
In every nukkad (corner) or galli (by lane) in India, you will find a chaiwala (tea seller) selling a hot cup of tea. Biscuits and snacks like bhajiya (similar to fritters), samosas, etc are the popular choice of accompaniments with this sweet milk tea beverage.
Fun reasons why tea is an integral part of India's culture & customs
Tea helps to energize, refresh and prep you up to do your morning chores. Early morning can also be a good time to drink a cup of hot green tea to boost your metabolism.
A family function or social gathering is incomplete without tea. It's a perfect beverage to serve your guests with some biscuits or some savoury snacks. It builds new relationships and strengthens old ones.
Tea helps in starting a conversation too. Whether it's your first date, meeting someone after a really long time or a chai break with your office colleagues, chai helps break the ice & start a conversation.
Tea is a perfect companion to enjoy your "me" time. Whether it's a rainy day, a winter morning or a hot summer afternoon, it's the best way to enjoy the brew & climate. E.g. A piping hot cup of ginger tea on a rainy day or a comfortable cup of sweet milk tea for a winter morning or a soothing cup of green/white tea in the afternoon will just make your day more pleasing.
Tea is an integral part of every Indian household. The significance of drinking tea in India cannot be confined to words. It's a way of life for them.