The History of Tea in India

Today, tea seems synonymous with India. But in the grand scheme of history, it’s a pretty recent addition to India’s ancient culture. Tea was first introduced into India in the early 1800s by the British East India Company. At that time, China had a monopoly on tea, and the British were looking for a climate where they could grow a thriving crop and break China’s control on the popular export. India just happened to be a perfect fit. The first teas introduced to India were grown from seeds smuggled in through China, and were largely cultivated using Chinese practices. While it was great for Britain, it was less than ideal for the Indian workers laboring under colonial rule.

At first, tea was still widely considered an export product throughout India. It wasn’t until a successful ad campaign throughout the 1920s, and a second in the 1950s, that people within India started to embrace tea—particularly in the rural north. As a result, today, the majority of tea grown in India is consumed within the country, which is a staggering amount of tea when you consider that for nearly a century, India led the world in overall production. India is currently the third largest tea exporter behind Sri Lanka and China. While India is relatively new to the tea business, several distinct and celebrated types of tea originated there, like Darjeeling, Assam and Nilgiri.

In 1953, six years after India’s Independence, the Tea Board of India was formed to promote and protect the cultivation, processing and trade of tea from and within India. Currently, the tea industry is the second largest employer in the country, and thanks to government protection, workers and tea growers enjoy a great deal of support in producing one of the nation’s greatest exports. SomruS is proud to be the one liqueur that is distinctly crafted to pair with tea. We respect our Indian culture, heritage and history—both where we came from and where we’re going. We think there’s a future in tea, and we’re thrilled to be part of it.