The Extraordinary History of India's Fav Drink

Did you know, Tea as we know it today was discovered more than 5000 years ago in China. The modern term Tea is derived from early Chinese words such as Tchai. Ch’a and T’e used to describe both the beverage and the leaf. Cha is Chinese word for Tea.

Also interesting to know that in every language the word for Tea has its origin form the two Chinese words - T’e & Ch’a

Tay (English before 8th century), Tea (English after 8th century), Tchai (Russian), Tee (Finnish, German, Korean), Thay (Sinhalese), Thee (Dutch)

Cha/Chai (Hindi, Japanese), Caj(Czech), Shai (Arabian), Tsai(Greek)


But why am I talking about tea. This is supposed to be yet another travel story. Well it was my 4th visit to Ooty and I already wrote about Queen of hill station 2-3 times so I thought why not write something different, yet close to travel stories, exploring new places and something interesting to know.

This time in Ooty, I visited Tea Factory & Tea Museum. If you are like me, addicted to tea then its nice place to explore. Situated at the foot of the Dodabetta Peak, The Tea Factory is the highest elevation tea factory in south India  

You could not only see the process of making tea right from the scratch but you will also get acquaintance with the tea history as well. 

Now its time to polish our knowledge about origin and the extraordinary history of India's favorite drink, Chai or Tea (BTW I got all these information from tea museum)

The story of tea begin in ancient Chiana more than 5000 years ago..According to Chinese mythology, the story of tea began with Emperor Shen Nung, a skilled ruler, creative scientist. His far sighted philosophy required among other things, that all drinking water be boiled as hygienic precaution. One summer day while visiting a distant region of kingdom, he and his army stopped to rest. In accordance with his instruction, the servant began to boil water for all to dring. It was then that some dried leaves from a nearby bush fell into boiling water and brownish liquid began forming.The King being a scientist, was interested in the new liquid and drank it. He found it very refreshing.

Tea as we know it today, was discovered at that moment.

Origin of tea in India started in 1823 when Scottish adventure Charles Bruce and other pioneers were clearing suitable area of land on which to develop plantation and experimenting with the freshly plucked leaves. Bruce had recruited two tea makers from China and their help he learned the secrets of successful tea production. The condition were incredibly harsh. The area was remote and hostile, Tigers, Leopards and wolves constantly threatened the lives of tea worker. But they persevered and gradually the jungle was opened up and now we all know Assam,the world's largest tea-growing region.

Another famous tea is Nilgiri, generally described as being a dark, intensely aromatic, fragrant and flavored tea grown in the southern portion of the Western Ghats mountains. Credit for the first manufacture of Nilgiri tea goes to Mr Mann. He succeed at making good tea from Nilgiri plants and encouraged to get more seeds. He procured a supply from the finest plantation in China in 1854 and planted them on piece of land in Coonoor, now called the Coonoor Tea Estate. In 1859 Thiashola Estate and in 1861 Belmont estate was formed at Ooty. Tea soon emerge as mainstay of the Nilgiris.

The Nilgiri Moutain Railway (Unesco World Heritage site) provided the vital link between tea plantation in the Nilgiri and rest of the world.

Interesting, isn't it!!!

Coming back to my visit at Tea factory & Museum, Its two-storey building with the entrance from the 2nd floor. Opposite to entrance you can see very old, antique orthodox roller.

Entry fee is reasonable 10 Rs

After paying entry fee, you will be in huge hall entirely lined up with large boards that reveal the tea-making history, interesting facts, benefits of drinking tea.

In the same hall you can see the starting phase of tea making process

You will see tea leaves being cut and spread out over the driers then transferred to the first floor to be cut, twisted and curled into the tea we are used to see.

At the end of the trip you can get free cup of tea for taste and also there are stalls to buy tea packets. Overall it was good visit and I would recommend to visit this factory & museum if you are in Ooty.

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