Say it loud and proud. India is the second largest producer of tea in the world. While a large part of this tea is exported, the majority of it is consumed right here. It’s not an exaggeration to proclaim that tea has become an obsession if not an addiction in India. While most people are familiar with the historical part that the British played in tea promotion in the country, not everyone is aware that the Camellia Sinensis plant which produces tea is native to India. The misconception is that the tea plant was brought here via the silk route or first arrived from China.

After the British transported seedlings here from China, it was discovered that an Assamic variety of the tea plant was growing in the Indian wilderness all along. Certain tribes in India used this tea as a stimulant for medicinal purposes, by chewing it or as an infusion and not for the pleasure of drinking. Unlike today where Indian tea such as the famous Masala Chai is part of the staple and consumed for its delicious taste.

It has been argued whether the tea found in India is in fact indigenous to Assam or from China. In 1958 the Botanist, Robert Sealy in a study presented some new findings at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. He distinguished between Camellia Sinesis var. Sinesis which is considered indigenous to China and grows up to 19 feet and the Camellia Sinesis var. Assamica which is considered indigenous to Assam and grows up to fifty-six feet high.

So, there you go! Tea is native to Indians and India.

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