Although the British were not able to change much of our eating habits they had one contribution that has become deeply rooted in our culture – tea.

It is hard to imagine a day without tea in our part of the world. Tea is more than just a beverage for our people; it has a social significance in our culture. Although not a regular tea-drinker myself, I know a number of people who are quite serious about their tea.

In fact, a friend of mine has a specialised tea cabinet with different types of teas for different times of the day!

Photo: Reuters

However, the subcontinent did not welcome tea with open arms initially.

It took the British years to make tea popular in the Indian subcontinent. Tea arrived in India with the arrival of the industrial world. A Tea Association was established which helped to market the product to the Indian population. The Tea Association would tour the country and teach people the correct method of making tea. However, tea vendors did not bother much about these methods and made their tea with plenty of milk and sugar. As tea became increasingly popular, people began to experiment with it and this gave birth to the different types of teas, especially masala chai (spiced tea).