Tea plants have been wildly growing in the Assam region since antiquity, but historically, Indians viewed tea as a medicinal plant rather than a recreational drink. Some of the chai masala spice mixtures, or karha, that are still used today are derived from Ayurvedic texts.
In the 1830s, the British East India Company worries about the Chinese monopoly on tea, which constitutes the bulk of its trade and supports the huge consumption of tea in Britain, around a pound (by weight) per person per year. British settlers had recently noticed the existence of Assamese tea trees and began cultivating tea plantations locally. In 1870, more than 90% of the tea consumed in Britain was still of Chinese origin, but in 1900 it fell to 10%, largely replaced by tea grown in British India (50%) and British Ceylon (33%). %), today Sri Lanka.
However, consumption of black tea in India remained low until the promotional campaign of the British-led Indian Tea Association in the early 20th century, which encouraged the factories, mines and textile factories in India. offer tea breaks to their workers. The Indian Tea Association has also supported many independent chai wallahs through the growing railway system.
The official promotion of tea was fashionable in England, with small amounts of added milk and sugar. The Indian Tea Association initially disapproved of the tendency of independent sellers to add spices and dramatically increase milk and sugar ratios, thus reducing their consumption (and hence their purchase) of tea leaves per volume of liquid. However, the masala chai in its current form has now firmly established itself as a popular beverage all over the world.