Tea Culture Tea Fables

How Tea came to be – India

July 13, 2015
How Tea came to be - India

How Tea came to be – India

On my daily tea scavenge I happened to find these posters which were made for the Indian Tea Market Expansion Board in 1947 and 1948. I decided to delve into the history of tea consumption in India.

Tea has become such an integral part of life for Indians and we think of tea as our own. The British initially produced tea in India as they sought to destabilize Chinese monopoly over tea production. Tea was intended only for foreign consumers and tea producers did not feel the need to develop a local market.

It was during the Great depression that tea consumption in Britain fell and resulted in a surplus. And so India was targeted as a market for expansion.

Indian Tea Market Expansion Board

The British launched their first mass marketing effort, which led to the creation of the Tea Cess Committee in 1903 to propagate tea consumption.

The unit was renamed Indian Tea Market Expansion Board in 1937. The propaganda had limited success primarily due to political opposition and criticism.

How Tea came to be - India

Poster for the Indian Tea Market Expansion Board in 1947.

It was only after independence and the pass on of tea companies and tea estates from British to Indian hands that a transition was put to effect. The Indian tea companies sought to convince consumers that tea was ’Swadeshi’ (made in India).

Today about 80 percent of the tea produced in India is consumed in the country.

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