Tea, glorious tea

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#1 Oct 17th, 2014, 13:27
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#1
The glorious history of India's passion for tea in eight images


"Tea might seem to be India's best-loved beverage, but its popularity is actually the result of a careful propaganda effort. Like Christmas and diamonds, tea consumption is among the world's more successful advertising campaigns.

That's obvious from a section of the contemporary and political Indian art collected by noted entrepreneur and hotelier Priya Paul. In 2008, Paul invited archivists at Tasveer Ghar, a digital repository of visual culture, to digitise her collection. They, in turn, asked scholars and historians to place the images in a historical context.

In her collection was a wide range of advertisements that portrayed tea drinking as a highly desirable activity. As it turns out, India owes its taste for tea and coffee to the diligent care of its former colonial overlords. Tea, particularly the Darjeeling kind, was introduced in plantations in North East India in the 1830s, as the British sought to destabilisethe Chinese monopoly over the product, writes Philip Lutgendorf in an essay that accompanies Paul's collection of images of tea.

Tea plantations in India were initially meant to produce tea for foreign consumers. When tea consumption in Britain and the US began to stagnate around the turn of the 20th century, the British, ever the opportunists, decided to look to India to expand their MARKETS.

The problem

The only problem was that Indians were extremely reluctant consumers of the combination of sugar, boiled leaves, water and milk.

In 1903, the British government established a propaganda unit, at first called the Tea Cess Committee, that was meant to propagate tea consumption. This board was funded by the proceeds of a tax on the export of tea. The government neatly renamed this as the Indian Tea MARKET Expansion Board in 1937.

Tea was so foreign to Indians – and for that matter Europeans – that the Tea Board's early ads had to include instructions on how to brew the product. The board also distributed small packets of tea, available for one paisa, in villages and to middle-class consumers. The tea shops that exist at railways stations and docks today are a product of the Tea Board's campaign, according to Vernon Wickizer in a book on the political economy of tea, coffee and colas.

Indians roundly resisted. Mahatma Gandhi was particularly scathing in Key to Health in 1942.

“The use of tea is said to have originated in China,” he wrote. “It has a special use in that country. As a rule one cannot rely on the purity of drinking water in China and therefore it must be boiled before use to ensure safety.

“In my opinion, the usefulness of tea, if any, consists in the fact that it supplies a warm sweet drink which contains some milk. The same purpose may well be served by taking boiled hot water mixed with a little milk and sugar.”

Some support

Typically, the most enthusiastic supporters of tea were also from groups that tended to be more Anglicised: Parsis and Bengali babus.

"An advertisement for the Thomas Lipton Company, published in the Coronation Durbar Souvenir edition of the Express in 1911 [...], conjures a vision of tea as a gift from brown-skinned colonial subjects, being offered to smartly dressed English ladies and a monocled gentleman, against a backdrop of an orderly garden plantation, with its bungalow-style factory building," writes Lutgendorf. "Yet this imperial infusion, steeped in porcelain china pots, accompanied by pitchers of warm milk and spoonfuls of sugar, had already begun to be savored by the bhadralok ('well bred') residents of Calcutta."

After Independence, Indian companies began to represent tea as cent per cent Swadeshi products".
#2 Oct 17th, 2014, 13:40
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#2
So much brewing
#3 Oct 17th, 2014, 13:48
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Very nice.

I really like the poster called '386' with the ladies drinking the tea and in the background there are people picking leaves in the fields - very colourful! Would make a great vintage style poster for a kitchen wall.
#4 Oct 17th, 2014, 13:54
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#4
Fing

Are you old enough to remember the Ceylon Tea Centre on the Headrow in Leeds? It was always decorated with pictures of happy smiling people picking tea. I suspect that the reality was a bit less cheerful. A shopping trip into town was not complete without a visit there for a cuppa.

I do know that Ceylon isn't India , but I am not sure that too many people in Leeds realised the difference then.
#5 Oct 17th, 2014, 14:00
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Originally Posted by Dave W View Post Are you old enough to remember the Ceylon Tea Centre on the Headrow in Leeds?
No.

It sounds like a place that I would visit on a regular basis

I go to Betty's when I'm on a York or Harrogate trip
#6 Oct 17th, 2014, 14:10
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#6
Very interesting, thanks for sharing.
I like the "Tea is Swadeshi" it reminds me of the stickers on the water-purifiers.
#7 Oct 17th, 2014, 15:02
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#7
Indian Tea Relieves Lassitude!



As an aside, I am, as ever, struck by the timeless beauty of Indian dress.
#8 Oct 17th, 2014, 15:07
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Do people in India really buy Tea Dust? I'm sure that such an advert would be commercial suicide in the UK.

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#9 Oct 17th, 2014, 16:50
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#9
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Originally Posted by Dave W View Post Do people in India really buy Tea Dust?
Yes, mostly roadside tea vendors depend on tea dust.
#10 Oct 17th, 2014, 16:52
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#10
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Originally Posted by Dave W View Post Tea Dust?
One of the best selling Tea brands in India is Tata Agni, a tea dust. The economy segment is 60% of the Indian tea market and Tata tea is 33% of overall market. If you've enjoyed a kadak (strong) tea at a chai-wallah in India, good chance it's Tata Agni. In the north, a regional player - Vagh Bakri (tiger goat) brand does similar products.
#11 Oct 17th, 2014, 16:56
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#11
Tea dust!!! I've seen it all now....

Looks like something you'd take camping.

Like smash.... (instant mashed tatties - just add hot water!)
#12 Oct 17th, 2014, 17:02
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#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post One of the best selling Tea brands in India is Tata Agni, a tea dust. The economy segment is 60% of the Indian tea market and Tata tea is 33% of overall market. If you've enjoyed a kadak (strong) tea at a chai-wallah in India, good chance it's Tata Agni. In the north, a regional player - Vagh Bakri (tiger goat) brand does similar products.
You forgot this...

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Used to be quite popular with an advertisement on TV, i think in the 80s.
#13 Oct 17th, 2014, 17:03
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#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave W View Post Are you old enough to remember the Ceylon Tea Centre on the Headrow in Leeds?
Now you come to mention it, I remember the Ceylon Tea Centre in London

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fing Fang View Post I go to Betty's when I'm on a York or Harrogate trip
I remember Betty's from a business trip. I had the most expensive cup of coffee I have ever had, and it was delicious

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave W View Post Do people in India really buy Tea Dust?
Yes. I don't know if the sellers use it as a technical term, but, to the buyers, it does not have the same off-the-floor-sweepings connotation as it would to a British buyer. However, I just checked, and the stuff we buy says "leaves" on the box.
#14 Oct 17th, 2014, 17:06
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#14
Interesting thread.

I have never heard of "Tea Dust" before either. Is it the tea equivalent of instant Nescafe ?
#15 Oct 17th, 2014, 17:10
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave W View Post Do people in India really buy Tea Dust? I'm sure that such an advert would be commercial suicide in the UK.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prakaant View Post Yes, mostly roadside tea vendors depend on tea dust.
Anyone drinking tea made from tea bags is probably consuming tea dust, moreover, not only roadside tea vendors, but most of India actually consumes tea dust or fannings, not much different, all major top selling brands use only tea dust / fannings.
If you find my posts confrontationist, please bear, I am an old frustrated guy who has nothing better to do than sit on rocking chair and curse the world whole day
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