Once a tea lover, always a tea lover!
We have heard many people say this and have also seen many go gaga over this beverage. In fact, the term teetotaller - derived from the tendency to drink tea instead of alcohol, was brought into existence in 1833, but the term ‘coffeetotaller’ does not exist. Ever wondered what is so magical about this simple beverage?
Tea comes from the plant called Camellia Sinensis and is now the most popularly consumed beverage in the world after water. There are more than 100,000 tea estates in India that produce some of the best teas in the country, of which 70% is consumed domestically, and the rest exported, making India the second-largest exporter of tea globally after China. No wonder tea is the national drink of India!
Tea in India is also known as ‘Chai’ derived from the word ‘Cha’, which is the Chinese word for ‘tea’. The three main tea growing regions in India are Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiris.
Types of tea found in India
1. Assam tea
As the name suggests, this is black tea leaves, cultivated in Assam and known for its strong malty flavour. The Assam tea is derived from our homegrown tea plant variety – Camillia Sinensis Assamica.
Assam tea is exported worldwide and is easily the most popular variant in our country. These tea leaves also have several health benefits – they help increase mental alertness and helps prevent lung and ovarian cancer.
2. Darjeeling Tea
Darjeeling tea is another exporters' favourite. The Darjeeling tea is derived from a tea bush variety, brought into India from China by the British, known as Camillia Sinensis Sinensis. The variant is famous for its distinct aroma and taste. The Darjeeling tea helps prevent and soothe gastric ulcers and as well aids in preventing obesity.
3. Nilgiri tea
Originating in the Nilgiris or the southern part of the western ghats, this tea is also largely exported due to its strong flavour, aroma and dark colour. Nilgiri tea is also derived from the Camillia Sinensis Sinensis tea bush brought to Southern India by the British. Some of the health benefits of this tea are that it helps reduce weight, improves oral health, and helps fight diabetes.
4. Green tea
One of the highly consumed hot drinks in India, green tea is known as the healthiest beverage on earth because of its antioxidant values and other nutrients that help reverse diseases like cholesterol. Green tea has an earthy taste that can help uplift one’s mood and act as a refresher.
5. White tea
White tea is the purest and least processed tea with a light colour and flavour. It is usually considered a ‘delicate’ tea with a sweet taste. Less processed the tea leaf is, the greater the antioxidant in it. Since white tea is the least processed, it has maximum antioxidants, even more than green tea.
The recipe for tea or chai varies from region to region in India. Each place has its unique style and taste. Here are some of the different types of tea found in the country based on their recipes.
Butter tea is popularly drunk in hilly regions like Ladakh and Sikkim, where it is also known as Gur-Gur Chai. In Tibet, this tea is known as Po Cha. It is traditionally made from tea leaves, butter (made from yak milk), water and salt. They are usually served in small earthen cups and are relished with local Himalayan bread.
A speciality of Kashmir and a personal favourite, the Kahwa is an exotic tea made from boiling water and spices like cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, and dried rose petals. The tea leaves are added to the water towards the end, for the colour. Slivers of almond are added to the tea, along with a dash of honey.
Kahwa is traditionally prepared in a copper kettle known as a Samovar, in which hot coal is placed to keep the tea warm on a cold winter day.
Also consumed in Kashmir, the Noon chai, also known as Sheer Chai, is pink in colour. It is made by boiling tea leaves, cardamom, and baking soda until the pink colour is achieved. This tea is usually made by adding milk, salt and bits of almond and pistachio to it. Noon chai is also consumed in many parts of Rajasthan and Nepal.
A favourite amongst most, masala chai is made by boiling black tea leaves in water along with milk, sugar and spices such as ginger, cardamom and cinnamon. Ginger tea and Cardamom tea are some of the variants of Masala chai served in the country - a perfect companion for those cold winter mornings or rainy days.
Amrut Tulya tea
Amrut Tulya – literally meaning ‘compared to nectar’- is usually consumed in Maharashtra, especially Pune. It is made by boiling fresh ginger, crushed cardamom and tea leaves in water. The Amrut Tulya tea is traditionally prepared in a brass vessel.
Herbal tea found here is not exactly tea. It does not contain any tea leaves and is found in three types.
• Rooibos tea
This herbal infusion is made from the South-African red bush and is a red coloured beverage. It comes in various flavours and can be had hot or iced.
• Mate tea
Mate is a wild shrub from Argentina that gives us a strong, coffee-like flavoured tea.
• Herbal infusions
These are teas made from pure herbs, fruits and flowers.
• Blooming teas
Also known as Artisanal or Flowering Tea, these teas bloom when steeped in hot water. Tied by hand, these flowering buds start to open up once in the water.
So, if you are a tea connoisseur, let us know which amongst these is your favourite. And if you have not been drinking tea, but have your interest piqued after reading about it, then do try some of these wonderful variants and let us know about your experience!
Have a tea-full day!