13 May 2022  |   06:33am IST

Universality of tea


After water, tea is the most widely consumed drink by the people on our planet. This fact would certainly make all other drinks envious. Normally, tea is a mixture of boiling water, sugar, tea leaves and milk. But the success of tea lies in calling the above mixture (or compound?) as tea alone.

The history of tea dates back to ancient China, almost 5000 years ago. According to legend in 2732 BC, Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water.

For many, morning does not arise without drinking cups of teas and those who take naps in the afternoon are refreshed only after having their cups of tea. Usually, a person consumes 2 cups of tea per day. But some are tea devotees. In English they are called tea drinkers. In our country there was once a defence minister who was very much fond of tea. His name was Krishna Menon and he used to drink 30 to 35 cups of tea everyday! Oftentimes he was seen with a cup of tea in his hand.

Presently one great leader of Indian National Congress and a renowned author Mr Shashi Tharoor proves himself to be a great lover of tea. Tharoor empties considerable number of tea glasses daily! It is to be noted that both the aforementioned politicians hail from Kerala.

Nowadays, tea has dominated the world. It has become customary now to call short rests in celebrations and events as ‘tea times’ or ‘tea breaks’. Today, important decisions are made over a cup of tea. Before becoming the PM, honorable Mr Narendra Modi started an expedition in 2014 named ‘chai pe charcha’ meaning discussion over a cup of tea. In this campaign Modiji would sit amidst people holding a glass of tea in his hand. 

Tea looks like an ordinary commodity, but it has created history. On 16th Dec 1773, sons of Liberty in Boston, America strongly protested the imperialists British as the latter imposed tax on Tea. On the above mentioned day a group of 60 American Colonists threw a total of 340 chests of tea into Boston harbour. Their slogan then was “Dump the tea into the sea”. This incident is remembered in history as ‘Boston Tea Party’.

Though tea was originated in China, today it has become universal. In one advertisement of a reputed tea company, one Indian grandmother tells her grandson who comes from a foreign country, “In our country relations are not built on hai; they are built on chai”! So much so is tea Indian today. In addition, GoI has decided to make tea our national drink!

On tea two interesting phrases are formed in English language. One is “Not one’s cup of tea” meaning: not what one likes or finds interesting. The other is “A storm in a tea cup” meaning: great anger or excitement about a trivial matter. A person who moves from place to place selling tea is called ‘Chaiwala‘ in Hindi. Chaiwala is in fact a common man – aam admi. But this term has gained greater importance and respect after NM became PM of our country!


Idhar Udhar