Philip Lutgendorf. Chai Why? The Triumph of Tea in India as Documented in the Priya Paul Collection. Tasveer Ghar, Priya.
Yet the triumph of tea on the subcontinent (which continues, in the early twenty-first century, in some parts of South India that once exclusively favored coffee) was a slow and sometimes contested process, intertwined with and dependent on such phenomena as urbanization, improved rail and road transport and increased human mobility, the breakdown of caste and caste-related dining practices, and the rise of advertising and aggressive marketing. British interest in creating an indigenous consumer base for their export crop, reflected in the Indian Tea Cess Bill of 1903, did not immediately spark a great demand for tea, and was countered by the arguments of Mohandas Gandhi and other nationalists that the consumption of this “imperialist” and capitalist beverage (which required centralized large-scale cultivation and processing) was both physically and politically enervating for Indians (on the condition of tea estate workers, see, e.g., Piya Chatterjee’s 2001 study, A Time for Tea).