Drinking Tea has almost become part of culture among people across the world, cutting across religions, languages and customs. It is always nice to have a cursory glance of the latest sensational scoops in the morning newspaper by sipping hot brew in your hand and trading talks about local politics with your friends or neighbors
Every tea shop on the side walk in India is a refuge to local workers where they take time off to relax over a cup of hot brew - tea.
As regards tea, it was the Dutch who played a major role in the early 17th century in the early European tea trade. They sold tea through the Dutch East India Company. One Richard Wickham, officer with an East India Company office in Japan, wrote to a merchant in Macao requesting "the best sort of chaw" (tea) in 1615. This is the first record of tea from an Englishman. Tea, however, was not widely consumed in Britain until the 18th century because it was expensive and only in the later part became affordable. The British enjoyed the brew by adding sugar and milk to black tea and in the 1700s, the popularity of black tea overshot the green tea. Consequently, British Tea companies operating in India had a lucrative business during that period. This encouraged them to increase the production from India. With increased [production of tea from India, the price of tea in Europe fell steadily during the 19th century. This had a positive results on the society as a whole. Tea was no longer the luxury of the rich and the royals, it became every body's beverage to relax. However, next time when you takeout your fiancee for a cup of tea in a near-by Mall remember the following:
The British had discovered that a different variety of tea native to Assam and the northeast region of India was used by the local Singpho people. They grew these plants instead of the Chinese tea plant and then hybridised with Chinese small leaf type tea as well as likely closely related wild tea species. The new variety gave good results. Assam and Darjeeling tea became popular all over the world. Now India is a major consumer of tea and a major part of production caters to the vast domestic markets.
|Darjeeling tea. tea leaves being plucked. Pinterest|
|Darjeeling tea. Marketspice|
Now Darjeeling tea has become a high premium tea and has retained its popularity among the western nations for more than a century. According to Dhananjaya Bhat, countries, where Darjeeling tea is popular, are willing to pay a decent price for a chest, the reason being it is hard to duplicate this kind of tea either in its nice flavor or its quality.. It means no compromise on its goodness and original flavor. Avid tea drinkers will always give preference to Darjeeling tea and that is the reason why it is popularly called 'the Champagne of teas’. This promoted some nations to pay any price for this classic tea.
|West Bengal India: Darjeeling tea estate. Tea Perspective|
Its history goes back to 1853 when the British acquired Darjeeling hills and adjacent areas from the Sikkim Maharajahs. The moderate climate, hilly terrain and serene country area, the cool view of beautiful Mt Kanchenjunga (2nd tallest peak in the world) and above all suitability to start a sanatorium for the British Soldiers attracted the British very much and they began to develop this area. Around the same time, an enterprising Englishman by name Dr Archibald, a civil surgeon of the Indian Medical Service, after assessing the climate, soil and other parameters, began experimenting with Chinese plants in Assam.
|Black tea, Darjeeling tea estateYouTube|
Adulteration and falsification of Darjeeling tea have become a major problem in the global tea trade; as of 2004, the amount of tea sold as Darjeeling worldwide every year exceeds 40,000 tonnes. This will give you some idea about the popularity of this tea and the menace of duplication of original tea. Plans are afoot to replant Darjeeling tea plants and some are committed to bring back the goodness of Darjeeling tea's unique flavor into the Indian tea industry as well as global tea industry.