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India's Tea Tourists

India's Tea Tourists

April 16, 2010

Tea lovers unite. If you love this warming beverage as much as the homeland, could tea tourism holidays to India be the answer?

Chai, cha, a brew, tea, a cuppa... whatever you call it, tea is big in our culture. We mock the UK soap opera EastEnders for always surrendering to tea in times of stress, but we Indians are the same. No sooner have you stepped into someone’s house and the familiar offer of ‘chai, pani?’ (Tea, water?) is made, before the familiar aroma of tea leaves, chai masala and steamed milk floats out of the kitchen.

So what is it about tea that makes it so special? Warming, comforting, sharing, soothing, caffeine boost – they’re some of the words various friends and family members came up with when asked. Indians generally enjoy our tea with milk and sugar. It’s not known how this taste developed, whether it originated during British rule or whether Indians passed on their love for cow’s milk to the British.

Add to that growing evidence that tea contains cancer-fighting anti-oxidants, and with the caffeine-free options of green and herbal tea growing in number and popularity, it’s no wonder we are drinking more and more of our beloved beverage.

For me, a freshly made mug of warmly spiced, slightly sweet Indian chai is one of life’s simplest yet most rewarding offerings. Non-tea-drinkers find this almost ludicrous, but only a true tea addict knows the comfort a cuppa can bring!

And now, unsurprisingly, India itself has a thriving tea tourism industry. Tea cultivation bloomed under the British Empire and now India is the world’s largest tea exporter. There are around 1500 different teas in the world, produced by 25 different countries including China, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. So it’s not surprising that tourism has followed suit.

Like the wine regions of Europe and the coffee plantations of Central America, India’s tea estates offer similar tours and holidays, with package holidays to Assam, Darjeeling in West Bengal and other renowned tea-producing regions like Munnar in Kerala, Palampur in Himachal Pradesh and Ooty in Tamil Nadu.

And why not? If you love wine, you visit a vineyard, beer lovers flock to breweries, so if you love tea, a holiday on a tea estate seems an equally logical and fun choice, learning about its heritage, how it’s grown and tastings. Often combined with yoga, spa or eco tourism, tea estates offer peaceful, relaxing stays amid jaw-dropping hillside scenery – not to mention the chance to binge on your favourite brew all day long...


    16.10.12 10:12 PM
    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. I'm ready for mine, nothing like garam chai.
  • vaivhav
    28.07.11 02:20 PM
    The best place for tea holidays in India is definitely Assam which is the land of tea. There are many British era heritage bungalows situated amidst lush tea gardens and they provide a person with the best experience of British tea culture. Some of the bungalows are more than 100 year old and were built by the British. I run a small Eco tourism initiative and we offer tea holidays in Assam for people interested. Nice article and a much needed one.
  • Inderjit Singh Uberoi
    Inderjit Singh Uberoi
    21.06.11 10:33 AM
    Kenya commands around 32% of global exports and probably should be the largest exporter of tea as on date - how the global equation changes!
    Try Arunachal for once as a tourism destination - the experience is exhilarating!!
  • Meera Dattani
    Meera Dattani
    06.09.10 05:43 AM
    So nice to see there are so many tea lovers out there. I'll keep writing if you keep drinking. Biscuit-dipping a must ;-) Meera
  • HOBO(nickname)
    20.04.10 08:47 AM
    And the post says: common tour tea-gardens And added on list. Will tour for sure And will write about the same. 1500 tea varieties that is serious subject And we should talk about the same.
    Thanks for writing. Keep writing.
  • Tarun
    17.04.10 11:34 PM
    I am a tea addict…and I wish to go to some sort of this holiday
  • nalini hebbar
    nalini hebbar
    17.04.10 05:26 AM
    Kerala drinks weak tea with very little milk in it and they believe that tea gets poisonous if boiled…so water is boiled and tea leaves allowed to brew in it in a teapot covered with a tea-cozy.
    Gujarath on the other hand boils tealeaves in the thickest milk ever found, till the tea is puddle water muddy in colour!
    And this is India…we live united with all our differences!
  • magiceye
    17.04.10 05:24 AM

    in mumbai we have the ‘cutting chai’ which is half a glass of richly brewed in milk chai that peps one up in any weather

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