Delhi

Original tea-makers of India come alive through a virtual exhibition

Tangsha women plucking tea.

Tangsha women plucking tea. | Photo Credit: banglanatak.com

On the occasion of the International Tea Day on Saturday, banglanatak.com, a social enterprise working for culture based approaches and headquartered in Kolkata, has come up with an online exhibition on original tea-makers of India on the platform of Google Arts & Culture.

The virtual exhibition showcases original tea-markers of the country, Singpho and Tangsa communities of the northeastern India, specifically from the eastern Arunachal Pradesh.  

Tea culture

The exhibition also throws light on the traditional tea-making process of these indigenous communities and focuses on the age-old rich cultural traditions and knowledge of ethnic communities as well as their sustainable practices in the tea culture of India . 

“Indigenous tea was traditionally brewed inside bamboo tubes, and consumed by the indigenous communities of northeast India, namely Singphos and Tangsas … The Tangsas continue to practice this indigenous bamboo tea-making till date . The Singphos have been historically recognised as the first tea brewers of India, who also introduced the native plant to the British,” a press statement on the digital exhibition said. 

This research, content generation and curation of the exhibition is the outcome of socio-cultural study of selected ethnic communities of Arunachal Pradesh that has been supported by the U.S. Department of State. What makes the online exhibition unique is that it traces the history of tea in India before the British. “The native tea used to grow wild in their hilly forest regions and they drank tea as a medicinal drink. Today, they have organised household level tea gardens from where they pluck the leaves and process to make tea,” the press statement added. 

Details of the exhibition along with the photographs and videos on the traditional tea practices can be accessed at  https://artsandculture.google.com/story/rgXBXxjVOWEHFw   

Unique process

Emphasising that tea is the elixir of India and the most popular hot beverage in India, Ananya Bhattacharya, Director of the banglanatak.dot, said the practice of indigenous tea making by the Singpho and Tangsa communities dates much before the British introduced industrial tea for trading. “The exhibition celebrates the unique process of making smoked bamboo tea from native tea plants that can be preserved and used for many years, and their most unique and lesser-known tradition of making bamboo tea which they consume even today,” she added .  

 “Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Lifestyle of Indigenous People in Arunachal Pradesh for Sustainable Development is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State under the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation with funding provided by the U.S. government.  We are extremely proud of our association with banglanatak.dot com and the important work they do. This program, administered as a part of the Ambassadors’ Fund for Cultural Preservation, will leave a lasting legacy of cultural preservation and economic empowerment,” said Adrian Pratt, Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Consulate in Kolkata.  

Traditional process of making tea using bamboos by a tribesman of Arunachal Pradesh 

Traditional process of making tea using bamboos by a tribesman of Arunachal Pradesh  | Photo Credit: banglanatak.com


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 8:26:00 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/original-tea-makers-of-india-come-alive-through-a-virtual-exhibition/article65443226.ece