How Chai Arrived in India 170 Years Ago
The chai-wallah is still the first thing a passenger hears on waking up in a train in northern India as he marches through the carriages, a metal kettle swinging in one hand and glasses in the other, calling out ‘chai-chai-chai’.
Britain’s first taste of tea was belated — the Chinese had been drinking it for 2,000 years. The English diarist, Samuel Pepys, mentions tea in his diary entry from September 25, 1600. “Tcha,” wrote Pepys, the “excellent and by all Physicians approved, China drink,” was sold in England from 1635, for prices as high as £6 to £10 per pound of the herb (£600 to £1,000, today).