The Story of Cha Becoming Chai

The trajectory of the hitherto unwelcome beverage in the Indian subcontinent was altered by British trade manipulation, espionage, and persistent marketing.

May 26, 2023 - 15:43
May 28, 2023 - 10:24
The Story of Cha Becoming Chai
Image Source - economictimes

Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza married King Charles II of England in the middle of the 17th century, permanently altering British traditions. Spices, cash, and priceless items were all part of her dowry, along with loose tea leaves. 

Catherine was well-versed in the beverage, which Portugal obtained through commerce with China via its colony in Macau. In Britain, tea was far less common since its main uses were as a medicine to cure colds or increase attentiveness. British elites enthusiastically followed the new queen's daily tea-sipping routine as it rapidly became well-known. Within a century after Catherine's arrival, a once-luxury item made its way into all strata of society and eventually took on the status of a national habit.

By this time, tea had become incredibly popular throughout Europe, with Britain drinking 40 million pounds of it yearly. Only by purchasing more tea from China could the British fulfill this demand. China, a wealthy, self-sufficient country, was uninterested unless Britain offered to pay for it with a large amount of silver. Britain was aware that a strategy was required.

Through a series of cunning tricks, Britain would begin cultivating opium on the Indian subcontinent and trade it for tea with China. They quickly began laying the groundwork for South Asia to create its own addiction: chai. 

What's Your Reaction?