Today if you take any form of transport in India (or even if you go for a morning walk), you will be confronted with two simple choices. Tea or Coffee sir?
Coffee is quite recent; it’s the new child on the block just hitting India in the last few years with great force. Its growth of popularity as a drink of choice is remarkable.
Tea (black tea) as we know it or the Indianised masala tea (black tea with spices) is not too old itself, just a generation or two it has been here but it is without any doubt the national drink of India.
As both are commodities there is a massive lobby promoting them in India and worldwide.
Anyone can tell you the ‘West’ runs on coffee. Similarly today India runs on its sweetened milky tea.
Both are addictive and both are not ideal for health having some medicinal effects (like the white dot in the black half of the yin-yang circle) and then a lot of detrimental effects for health. The lobbies will fervently argue the contrary but any objective research done on this subject will show the truth.
Not surprisingly, India had a great heritage of it’s own drinks called kashayam which were various local herbal brews sweetened with raw unrefined sugar. Not surprisingly too these drinks are very good for health and have no harmful or side-effects as do our younger brothers of tea and coffee.
Even now as I write this on a flight within India I am offered just tea and coffee. One would think that kashayam never existed. Sadly the local folk of India do not ask what was there before tea and coffee. As if the entire nation has amnesia of its past, erased by the sweet syrupy chai that is now everywhere.