“I believe tea has helped us, as a nation. At least, our tea drinkers outnumber those who consume alcohol, One may even go so far as to claim that the spread of alcoholism has been arrested in this country because of tea.” SANKAR THE MONK AS MAN
How hard it is to believe that we Indians were unaware of tea (chai) a few centuries ago. Now hardly any Indian starts the day without tea. (The people of South India are lucky in this case that they have the option of choice, they can choose between tea or coffee according to their convenience) It is a matter of happiness that today in the use and production of both tea and coffee, India is one of the major countries of the world. According to a national survey, fifteen cups of tea are consumed in India compared to one cup of coffee.
Gradually tea became a part of our daily life. It is also like that we Indians were unaware of potato, and tobacco,(Potato &Tobacco was introduced by Portuguese ) today without them the daily life of many Indians cannot be imagined.
Herbal tea has a centuries-old history in India. Even today there is a lot of custom in India to drink it, but today this drink is also called Kaadha. Consumption of decoction has its benefits. Herbals like black pepper, mint leaves, basil leaves, liquor ice, cloves, ginger etc are used in the decoction. India has historically been a stronghold of natural medicines and spices, so it is common for such beverages to become popular. Similarly, lemon tea is also very popular in India. In recent years, the increasing awareness of people towards natural beverages has made Kaadha very popular. It has been used as a medicine in colds. In recent times, its popularity has increased a lot in the outbreak of Corona. There will be hardly any home or hospital in India where this herbal drink is not being used.
The extraordinary story of ordinary tea The story of tea was written in India during the Bengal rule of the East India Company. And within a few years it turned into a mass movement.
The East India Company was a commercial company, whose main reason for its arrival in India was the trade of spices. After the Battle of Plassey in Bengal, the East India Company’s feet were firmly established in Bengal. During this time, efforts were made by the people of East India Company to grow tea in India. It is believed that tea plants were first planted in 1787 by a British, Mr. Kydd, in a garden called Shivpur in Howrah. This was a failed attempt. Later at one place Mr. Kydd admitted that the climate of Howrah was not suitable for the growth of tea leaves. By the year 1820, some prominent Bengali families (Prince Dwarkanath Tagore) were also engaged in the tea leaf business in Assam in an effort to grow tea leaves in Bengal and its surrounding areas.
In 1864, India’s tea leaves were sold for £3 million by the Assam Company at an auction in Mincing Lane, London, England. This was just a beginning.
This was the effort of the East India Company and the famous Indian businessman of that time to capture a part of the tea market in England. Gradually these efforts paid off, by 1870 the share of China’s tea market in England was 90%, after thirty years it was 10%, this was possible due to the development of tea gardens in India and Sri Lanka. Till then the practice of drinking tea had not started among Indians, it is believed that the trend of tea was slowly starting in the city of Kolkata, India. Kolkata was then a rapidly growing British city in India. The political and economic capital of India. Kolkata was also called the White City in those days because the population of white people in the main area of Kolkata was more than the native people, and Kolkata had more white people than any city in Asia. The British people had a habit of drinking tea according to their English tradition, gradually this habit was being adopted by the elite Indians also. In those days, association with British families and eating with them was common in the famous and prosperous houses of Kolkata, as a result many customs and traditions were adopted conveniently by the noble Indians, among them the habit of drinking tea. was involved.
Tea and Nationalism
In those days a new industry was also spreading rapidly in Bengal. That was the printing industry. For the first time in India, the trend of books, newspapers was increasing, many British and Indian businessmen of Kolkata were also seeing the possibility in this new business. Due to the spread of education, the number of educated people in India was also increasing. The old gurukul system of education (which was largely based on Hindu traditions) and Muslim education which was based on madrasas was now getting out of date. Western education and employment based on western education were increasing, a new intellectual class was emerging among Hindus. (Muslims were keeping distance from this education system) This new intelligentsia was to some extent British in language, lifestyle and food, but inspired by Hindu culture, religion, and the spirit of patriotism. Many of these intellectuals did not accept to work under the British government and started working independently in journalism, Hinduism and social reformer. There was also a lot of drinking tea among such people, due to which soon the tag of white people’s beverage was removed from tea.
Tea Break চা বিরতি
Bengalis have tea in their and blood and nobody can do anything about it. Bengalis will never forget that coffee smells like burnt shal leaf, while Darjeeling tea tastes like champagne. Sankar- The Monk as MAN
Rabindra Nath Tagore, a prolific nationalist of the time, and world-renowned Writer, Poet, Philosopher ( first Indian who received the Nobel prize of Literature )
Dwarka Nath Tagore was his grandfather, who started the tea business in India with the British people. He was counted among the tea lovers of that time. He has shared his love of tea with people many times.
Swami Vivekananda A young sannyasi(MONK) whose popularity was at its peak in those days, a voice that was a ray of hope among the nationalists, was a tea lover. This young monk left an impact on the world’s finest minds of his time.
The uncivilized image of Hindus and India in the West and America, which was based on some prejudices, was broken by this great sannyasi, not only kept the true picture of India in front of the world, but also introduced the world to yoga and meditation for the first time. The great scientist Nikola Tesla, writer Aldous Huxley, Tolstoy, Ja de Salinger Rockefeller, Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, Arvind Ghosh, Nivedita, Jamshedji Tata, Vimal Mitra Shachindranath were influenced by his ideas. Vivekananda’s habits were always the subject of discussion in those days, especially among the youth and the intelligentsia in Kolkata. Swami Vivekananda, along with other poets, writers, and intellectuals associated with the Rama Krishna Mission, have mentioned the popularity of tea at many places due to Vivekananda’s influence. Swami Sardananda once jokingly told Swami Vivekananda’s younger brother Mahendranath that the habit of drinking tea to the people associated with the Math is due to your brother Vivekananda. For more information related to this topic please visit:- https://nithinks.com/2021/01/11/is-vivekananda-still-relevant-today-national-youth-day/
BELUR -MATH HOWRAH (KOLKATA )
Tilak the Chaiwala of Belur :-
Once Tilak, (LOKMANYA BALGANGADHAR TILAK)the great nationalist of that time, came to Kolkata. Tilak came to Belur Math to meet and discuss with Swami Vivekananda. On the request of Swami Vivekananda, Lokmanya Tilak made tea for all the people present in the Math. Undoubtedly, this tea party is ranked among the most historic tea parties in India.
This incident is mentioned by Shankar in his famous book the monk as man
Giving the details of this incident, Sankar has told that’ Tilak had brought nutmeg, mace ,cardamom ,cloves, and saffron with him. He boiled these things together, added the tea leaves, milk and sugar ,and made tea.’ This incident shows that Our current Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose father had a small tea shop, and whose childhood is spent selling tea, he is not the only chaiwala in Indian politics.
There is a belief in china that in the fifth-sixth century, a monk from India, Bodhidharma, reached China for the propagation of Buddhism. He is credited to propagate Buddhism in china. It is believed that Bodhidharma spent nine years meditating in a cave, due to constant waking and not sleeping, Bodhidharma was feeling sleepy, due to which Bodhidharma cut off his eyelid in anger and threw it away. A few days later a tree grew at the same place. The leaves of that tree had a special quality – drinking a drink made from the leaves of that tree did not cause sleep and felt energized. This was the first tea plant.
Tea Capital of India :- Undoubtedly Kolkata is the tea capital of India. From the planting of tea leaves to the cultivation, export, acceptance of tea in the society, everything is built in the history of Kolkata itself. Although tea shops will be found in every city, nook, street square of India, but the variety of tea found in Kolkata is rare. The way of serving tea is also varied. From plastic glasses, glasses, fancy cups, to clay pots.
Many shops in Kolkata still make tea in the old style kiln, but the tea found at these shops is usually strong tea. (This is the Indian version of Britain’s sailors tea) The taste of tea in a cup made of clay changes completely, the smell of earthy aroma in strong tea – wonderful.
In Kolkata, the use of milk in tea is also less, in Kolkata tea leaves are more important, after taking a few sips of tea, it is understood that the whole game here is of tea leaves.
Cultural Capital of India & Some very unique tea shops:- Varanasi is not only the cultural capital of India, it is also called Mini Kolkata or Mini Bengal. The reason for this is a large number of Bengalis here. Most Bengalis live in one city outside the state of Bengal, then it is Varanasi. The trend of tea in Varanasi has come from Kolkata itself. Here too many old tea shops serve tea in earthen cups. (KULLHADA) But there is a fundamental difference in the tea found here – milk is used more in the tea here. Apart from this, basil leaves, ginger, bay leaves are commonly used in tea here. In their taste and aroma, it reduces the taste of tea leaves . There is one more thing that is worthy of praise at the tea stalls in Varanasi – the special attention to cleanliness. A small tea shop on the side of the road also washes the utensils used for making tea with hot water several times a day. In Varanasi, tea is a beverage to be consumed at any time, and at any place.
“I think Banaras (Varanasi) is one of the most wonderful places I have ever seen. It it has struck me that a westerner feels in Banaras very much as an oriental must feel while he is planted down in the middle of London”. (MARK TWAIN)
MAHASAMASHAN AND TEA SHOPS
If one is not familiar with the traditions and philosophy of Hindu religion, then the tea shops and tea drinking places in Varanasi can surprise him.
The most unique seems to be the hundreds of tea shops on Samashan. In Hinduism, the last rites of a dead person are performed on the banks of rivers or water bodies, in Varanasi also on the banks of the holy Ganges there are two very ancient ghats Manikarnika and Harishchandra, both these ghats are used for cremation. There are many tea shops on both the ghats. On Manikarnika, there are more tea shops than shops of materials used in cremation. The funeral rites never stop on Manikarnika, day and night. Similarly, tea is available at any time at the tea shops here. The well-wishers of the deceased who come to attend the last rites can also be seen drinking tea at the time of the last rites of the deceased. To know the thousands of years old tradition of Varanasi’s Samashan, Aghori please visit:- https://nithinks.com/2021/03/26/rangbhari-ekadsi-masan-holiashes-of-dead-persons/ This is a normal reaction. The use of tea was once banned in Hindu monasteries considering it to be a stimulating beverage, today drinking tea is a common practice among Hindus in any religious activity. Many Hindus do not consume grains during the fast, they only survive on fruits, but tea is also drunk during this time. To know the story and tradition related to fasting in Hindu festivals please visit:- https://nithinks.com/2021/03/14/mahashivratrishiv-barat-and-varanasi/ I would like to end this post with these words of Swami Vivekananda.
READ THE VEDAS AND UPNISSHADS, AND DRINK TEA –NO HARM IN IT!