Tea vs. Coffee in India

Statistically speaking, if you drink tea, there’s a pretty good chance that it was grown in China or India. If it weren’t for China, India would be the world’s top tea growing nation, and between the two of them they grow rather substantial quantities of the stuff.

Indian black tea still beats coffee. (ETS image)
Indian black tea still beats coffee. (ETS image)

Which might be why the growth of coffee drinking in both countries is so often noted and more often than not, is presented as some kind of a war or a battle. Not that this sort of thing is limited to China or India, mind you. Just recently I remarked on the same sort of (imaginary?) showdown in a nation that produces next to no tea but which is pretty much synonymous with tea and tea drinking. That would be England. Read more about it here.

Not so long ago the British press minced no words when they commented on the “wars” between tea and coffee in India, with an article bluntly titled India’s Tea and Coffee Wars. This is not the first time such a matter has been commented on in India and in the past it’s often been due to the efforts of a certain well-known giant coffee retailer (who also sell tea – it should be mentioned) who apparently decided to make India one of the points of their ongoing worldwide expansion strategy.

Tea has been well-known since the mid-nineteenth century in the Assam region of India and a little later in Darjeeling and Nilgiri. Coffee is said to have gotten its start in the southern part of the country with a mere seven beans that were smuggled in and planted and more recently has been gaining ground in the northern regions, where tea has tended to be dominant.

If the article is to be believed, the alleged war there is something of serious matter. It notes, “so intense is the battle that the head of one major coffee firm asked not to be named.” There has even been some fuss in India in recent times about what should be deemed the national drink and while I realize that I might be just a bit biased tea does seem like a perfectly logical choice.

But until the matter is brought to a satisfying conclusion – if it ever is – let’s just hope that the hostilities are carried out in a relatively moderate fashion and no one gets hurt. Can’t we all just get along?

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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