A Chai a Day...
500-100BC Ancient Sanskrit tale titled Ramayana, written, discussing tea.
500AD – Legend that Prince Dharma vowed not to sleep for seven years in order to spread the teachings of Buddha. He was exhausted after five years, and began chewing leaves to keep awake. The leaves which kept him alert were the indigenous tea plant.
1598 – Dutch explorer references Indians eating and drinking tea leaves.
1800’s – Tea made into Chai (a combination of black tea, milk, sugar, and a variety of spices) is discovered, and today continues to be an integral part of Indian life. Many Chai recipes can be found, depending on factors such as locality and tradition. We've created our own Chai spice blend, which can be used in teas as well as for cooking: Crushed.
1820 – The East India Company (British) begins producing Assam teas.
1837 – India establishes the first tea estate and English tea garden in Assam.
1840 – Commercial production commences.
1869 – Fungus kills off Ceylon’s main crop, coffee. Diversification into tea which quickly takes over.
1948 – Ceylon becomes independent.
1971 –Sri Lanka government enacts the Land Reform Act. Prior to the Act, British companies owned 80% of the tea estates. The state took control of all but a 1/3. Today the government retains ownership, but the private sector manages estates.
1972 –Ceylon changes its name to Sri Lanka, but the teas maintain the Ceylon title due to familiarity with its association.
Assam – Northeast region of India, famous for teas. Rich, strong, and full-bodied. Largest tea region in the world, producing half of India’s tea.
Darjeeling – India’s exquisite ‘Champagne’ of teas. Considered one of the world’s finest. Delicate, floral flavor. Southern slopes of the Himalaya Mountains. Technically an oolong because of oxidation (90%), yet commercially considered a black tea.
Nilgiri – Southern India tea region. Subtle flavor.
India - 2nd largest producer of tea (behind China), 4th in exports, due to the fact that over 70% is consumed within its borders.
India contains over 14,000 tea estates, and about 4% of their GNP is derived from tea.
Sri Lanka – Largest exporter of tea (nearly tied with Kenya), 4th place in production. China, India, Kenya, and Sri Lanka are the top four in exports and production.
Masala Chai – Indian Chai of black tea, milk, sugar and a variety of spices.
Kashmiri Chai – Masala Chai with a twist, green tea instead of black.
Life’s toiling, the water’s boiling, drink more tea!