Tea in Indian Literature and Arts

by Wagh Bakri on Jun 07, 2024

A cup of tea on top of Indian literature books

Have you ever wondered what is one common thing that most Indians love? It has to be tea! And it’s not just the common folks but even artists love tea. This can be seen in their works, you might’ve seen tea being featured in some paintings, books and other forms of art. If rumour is to be believed, Wagh Bakri chai is the favourite of artists as well, along with common people.

Table of Contents

  1. How did tea come to India?
  2. Tea in Books
  3. Tea in Movies
  4. Tea in Futuristic Art
  5. Conclusion
  6. FAQs

How did tea come to India?

If there is something that Indians love collectively, it is tea. So much so that many artists not only love tea, but it serves as their inspiration as well. Our Indian Assam tea as well as Darjeeling Tea are famous across the globe. But how did this love affair of India and tea start?

Well, the version of tea that we all love so much, was introduced to us by the British. China used to have a major monopoly over tea production so in the 19th century, the British started promoting tea plantings in India.

Did you know that Indians didn’t always love tea, initially it was a bit of a challenge to convince them about this combination of sugar, milk and tea leaves. And the British carried out a full plan to make Indians fall in love with tea.

Tea in Books

As they say, literature is the mirror of any society. As India started enjoying this drink, it became a regular part of everyone’s life. And from real life, it started featuring in movies, books, paintings, poems and ads. Sometimes it was intentional while sometimes it was just very natural. For example, here is a poem by Dwijendralal Roy (1863-1913), a famous poet, playwright and lyricist:


I do not want property, fortune, money; Not even fame and honor.

But the God should allow me, To have a cup of Tea in the morning.

I do not object to have toast and egg along with a cup of Tea in the morning.

I am sorry not for Liquor and claret, Please eat as you like, But don’t debar me from a cup of Tea in the morning.

The earthly life is bereft, who is whose! Wife, son, father and mother, As well the earthly life is bereft.

Only true thing is a cup of Tea in the morning

Did you know that one of the best tea brands in India also came into existence around this time? Guess the name! Yes, Wagh Bakri tea!

Just like this poem, the initial art in which tea featured were mostly works by major artists like Tagore and Narayan. Rabindranath Tagore's short story "Charulata" features the protagonist Nalini who uses the ritual of brewing tea together to connect with her estranged husband.

The protagonist of the film Charulata by Satyajit Ray

Did you know that Indian Railways started operating the first train from Bombay to Thane in the year 1853? However, tea became popular at railway stations only in the 1930s. That is how, it made its way to R.K. Narayan's classic novel "Malgudi Days," as well which was written in the 1940s. In this novel, we see tea breaks at the fictional railway canteen, which becomes a space for philosophical discussions and community bonding.

These portrayals highlight how the daily habit of tea and shared cups led to social interactions, which helped people make friends and connections.

Coming to the modern day, modern Indian literature continues to explore the love for tea. In "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri, the protagonist Gogol's relationship with Indian chai becomes a symbol of his cultural struggles.

The book cover of The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

On the other hand, authors like Arundhati Roy use tea plantations as a backdrop for stories that explore themes of social inequality and environmental concerns.

And then you see tea featured casually in works of popular fiction writers like Chetan Bhagat. These examples show how despite the changing times, the love for tea is not at all fading whether it comes to Indians or Indian artists.

Tea in Movies

Amitabh Bachchan drinking chai

Every Indian has loved watching movies since the early days of cinema. Movies are a part of life. So naturally, from 1950s onward we see tea in most Indian movies not just mainstream ones, but also regional movies. Right from roadside chai shops to chai in luxurious settings, Indian cinema and Indian people just can’t have enough of movies or chai.

Tea features so often that we might not even notice it. Remember the iconic scene from Sarkar where we see Amitabh Bachchan sipping tea from his saucer? Or the famous dialogue by Amir Khan from Andaaz Apna Apna, “Do dost ek pyaale mein chai piyenge, isse dosti badti hai.”

Nowadays, beyond just in movies, we see our beloved chai featuring in the OTT shows as well. The recently launched season of Panchayat also has seen the protagonist Abhishek Kumar’s love for tea (and dislike for the chai made by Vikas). The other cast of the show also enjoys tea together as a family.

Pradhan ji from Panchayat series having tea with his family

After all of this, what is next for tea? Where else could it feature? Read about it in the next section.

Tea in Futuristic Art

With AI image creation tools becoming popular, everyone is creating some really stunning images related to chai. Check out a few below:

It is difficult to predict how tea will feature in these futuristic art forms. But one thing is for sure, the love affair between artists and chai will only get deeper with these tools. Imagine how easy it’s now to imagine chai in any form, shape and place!


From the tea estates of Assam to the garma-garam chai shared in literature and cinema, tea hasn't just become a part of India; it's woven itself into the very fabric of the nation's culture. Its journey began as a foreign beverage, eventually transforming into a beloved tradition, a muse for artists and a symbol of social connection as well.

As we move forward, the future of tea in Indian art remains exciting. With the rise of AI-generated visuals, the possibilities for artistic expression are endless. We might see chai depicted in fantastical landscapes or maybe reimagined as futuristic beverages.

One thing is certain: the love affair between India and tea continues to brew.And it goes without saying, if you want to buy tea online, Wagh Bakri should be your go-to chai-buddy.


What are some popular Indian tea varieties?

India has a diverse range of tea varieties, each with its distinct flavour profile. Some of the most well-known include: Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiri and Masala chai.

Is tea really the most popular drink in India?

Yes, tea is widely but unofficially considered the national beverage of India. While water is essential, tea consumption is deeply ingrained in Indian culture, enjoyed across social classes and throughout the day.

Is there a difference between Indian tea and tea from other countries?

While tea leaves come from the same plant, processing methods and regional variations create distinct flavours. Indian teas like Assam and Darjeeling are known for their unique characteristics compared to, say, Chinese green teas or Japanese matcha.