Tea is the national drink of india

In India, chai is more than just a cup of tea to start the day – the thick sweet drink is an integral part of the rhythm of life. Zach Marks and Resham Gellatly have been documenting the culture of Indian chai and the people who sell it – known as chai wallahs.

Indians typically serve tea in their homes several times a day. India is the world’s second largest producer of tea and 70% of it is consumed within India. By April this year, chai will be officially declared the national drink of India.

In India, guests are known as “emissaries of god,” they drop by any time they want without warning. When they come, you serve. You almost always serve them Chai. Whenever guests would come over to our house, my mom would immediately ask me to make a pot of chai. “Chai” is the Hindi word for “tea” but it usually means the well-known sweetened spiced milk-tea of India.

Chai is ubiquitous in India. It is the perfect drink for India’s hot weather because the hot tea triggers the body’s natural cooling reflexes and actually helps bring your body temperature down. Most Indians drink Chai at least twice a day, once with breakfast and again for an afternoon tea, just like the British. As it turns out, the British foisted tea on Indians not only as a way to sell tea, but also sugar.

Not surprisingly, the tea industry was brought to India by the British. Some of the best tea in the world grows in Darjeeling using tea and techniques for growing that the British East India Company stole from China in the 19th century.

Tea is India’s most popular drink – the country consumes 837,000 tonnes of it every year. The ritual of drinking chai transcends all boundaries, and roadsides are dotted with chai wallahs who serve it boiled up with spices, sugar and milk.

A popular ingredient in north Indian chai, ginger is believed to have numerous health benefits and is thought to keep your body warm in winter. The spicy root has been used in hot, milk-based beverages in India for hundreds of years, so when the British popularised tea in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, adding ginger to the mix was a natural thing to do.

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