If you are an Indian, then in 2013, every sip of tea or chai might induce more patriotism in you! Why, you may ask, if you have not read about Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s (Chairman of the Planning Commission) recent declaration. Montek ji has declared that by April 2013, tea will be honored as India’s national drink!
If you are a south Indian who cannot survive without a shot of filter Kaapi (every couple of hours), you ought to know that 83% of Indians drink tea! In fact, India consumes 70% of the tea it produces and the tea industry contributes 4% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It also employs the largest number of workers in the organized sector, a majority of which are women!
So are these reasons enough to make tea the national drink? There are indeed varied views on the issue with equal supporters and rivals. Tea associations say that the national tag will make tea a bigger brand in global markets and increase local consumption, while critics feel that the government is just trying to thrill the people of India’s north-eastern states (where maximum tea is produced).
The fact that chai is the preferred national drink has upset some sections of the Indian society. These varied, anti-tea, groups are debating on why milk, coconut water, coffee, lassi, and even nimbu paani deserve the national symbol status more!
Apparently, the origins of India’s beloved chai cannot be confirmed! A Chinese legend attributes its origins to Emperor Shan Nong, while an Indian legend attributes the origin of tea to a Buddhist monk called Bodhidharma. So, which country has the honor of calling tea its own, remains unclear!
Tea in its basic form is relished by pouring hot water over tea leaves (of the Camellia Sinensis plant) such that flavors from the leaves permeate into the hot water. The Chinese have established an entire tradition of preparing and pouring tea. Here is a short video of the Kung Fu tea ceremony:
There are four major types of tea: White, Green, Oolong, and Black. Interestingly, all these teas come from the raw leaves of the same tea plant, but the method of processing these leaves are different.
Koi doubt mat rakhna that India’s masala chai, cutting chai, etc, is made from black tea. Numerous studies have revealed that tea (especially green tea) cuts the risk of cancer and reduces stress. It also aids in longevity as its antioxidants help eliminate toxins from the body. It’s said that tea also increases immunity (enough reasons for that extra cup, don’t you think )!
National drink or not, chai is going to be the hot favorite with the monsoons approaching! Do you think that the mazaa of sipping tea can be altered if it gets a national drink tag? Write to us and let us ponder over a cup of chai !