India is homeland to finest varieties of tea in the world. The four varieties of tea is grown in India. Darjeeling tea- the finest, Kangra tea, Assam Orthodox tea also called as breakfast tea and Nilgiris Tea. Darjeeling tea is considered as most sought after by the westerners because of its uncompromising aroma.
The history of tea growing is little ambiguous, written record says that tea was introduced in India by the westerners during early eighteenth century. They originally use Chinese tea seeds and plantation methods for growing tea in India. Legends in some parts of Assam say that a wild variety of tea was consumed by Ahom people as a medicine much before the British arrived in the country. That particular variety of tea is called Assam Orthodox tea today and it is considered as one of the native variety of tea in India.
This aromatic tea was first introduced to Darjeeling by Arthur Campbell in early nineteenth century. First Flush of Darjeeling organic oolong tea can cost around 370- 400 USD per Kg and is mainly exported to Europe and USA. Though Darjeeling black tea is famous It has four typical flavours, Black, Green, White and Oolong (comprises the qualities of black and green tea). A lot of blended varieties are also available such as Jasmine, Lychee, Rose, Tulsi, Ginger, and Lemon etc.
Varieties of Darjeeling Tea: There are ideally four varieties of Darjeeling Teas,
First Flush: It is harvested in mid-March following spring rains, it has very light color and gentle aroma. It is supposed to be the costliest one in the market.
Second Flush: It is harvested in June and is reasonably costly and has strong muscatel-flavor
Monsoon Flush: It is a considered as low quality tea and can not be exported, it is more oxidized. It is used in milk (Dust tea) or Masala/ Ginger Tea.
Autumnal flush: This variety is harvested after the rainy season and dosnt have much aroma but gives strong color.
The UK Tea Council refers Darjeeling as the “Champagne of Teas,” in honor of its exquisite savor. The Darjeeling logo has come into existence since 1986 which is a hallmark of excellence that reflects the best quality and unmatchable flavor anywhere in the world. The Darjeeling Tea Association ensures the best quality Darjeeling tea, tested and packed to the gourmet across the world. It offers enormous health benefits when consumed regularly. It fights against cancer, cavities, obesity and stomach ulcers.
These are Eighty seven tea gardens from Darjeeling which uses its GI registered Trademark. If you wish you buy authentic Darjeeling Tea, you need to check Tea Board’s certification and license Number and Darjeeling Tea Logo or if you are well versed with the taste and aroma of Darjeeling Tea, you can buy it.
Few Tea gardens you can rely on while buying Darjeeling Tea if you visit Darjeeling, some of them also offer home stays, Makaibari Tea Estate, Singtom Tea Estate, Niroulas Tea Farm, Ging Tea House, Glenburn Tea Estate, Happy Valley Tea Estate, Selim Hill Tea Estate etc.
Assam Orthodox Tea
Assam Orthodox Tea is a black tea recognized for its malty liquors that relishes the taste buds with alluring bright color, strong flavor and aroma. Thus it is called “breakfast Tea”. Assam is the world’s largest producer of tea and the tropical climate that prevails in this region results in the malty taste of tea. Filled with antioxidants, regular consumption will decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and improves blood circulation.
The various grades of this tea include
Flowery Orange Pekoe (the small leaf next to the bud)
Orange Pekoe (the second leaf next to the bud)
Pekoe (the third leaf next to the bud)
Souchong (the fourth leaf next to the bud)
TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) is the highest grade of Orthodox Assam, hand processed in small quantities at the finest plantations.
Few Gardens where you can buy authentic orthodox tea are Assamica Agro for Organic Assam Tea, Handcrafted Organic Green Tea, Organic Green Tea from Deha’s Organic Farm. Black and Green Assam orthodox tea from Goodricke Tea Garden etc.
Kangra tea is from the Kangra valley of Himachal Pradesh, and it was considered as one of the best tea variety during nineteenth century. During 1905 a massive earthquake almost swept away the tea industry of Kangra and many tea gardens were eventually closed for forever. Very little production happened till 21th century. Due to support from the government Kangra tea industry was again revived. Kangra produces both green and black tea, it is well known for its aroma. Many of Kangra Velly Tea gardens are located in and around Palampore and Mandi.
Two local Brands from Kangra Tea is reliable, Himalayan Brew, and Palampore. They also have a lot of blended varieties such as Ginger Green Tea, Green Mint Tea, Herbal Tea, Heritage Green Tea, Kangra Leaf Classic Tea,Kangra Masala Tea, Kangra Masala Tea, Kangra Orange Pekoe Tea, Pine Wood Smoke Tea, OOlong Tea etc.
Nilgiri Tea, a hybrid variety of Chinese tea is a lesser known variety of Indian tea in the international market. Because of its strong flavor it is wisely use for blending purposes. The first flush of handmade Nilgiri Orange Pekoe tea costs around 600 USD. The exotic varieties include Black, Green, White and Oolong. Frost tea is twirl styled, immensely aromatic and full of fresh fluid that is made from plants that thrive in peak winters and frost. Black tea is rich in caffeine that helps speed up the metabolism. Regular consumption helps in reducing excess weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and fights cold. Chamraj Tea, korakundah tea are worth buy.
Various Tea logos of India
How to prepare Indian Tea?
Indian tea is consumed in two ways with Milk and without milk. Locals prefer to drink tea with milk, blended variety of tea (CTC+ orthodox) goes well with Milk and also other Indian blends such as Masala chai ( tea), adrak chai (ginger tea) are consumed with milk. Boil water, milk and sugar together, once it is done, put half teaspoon full Masala tea powder, Ginger tea powder or leaves and cover it for two minutes. However if you want to make your own ginger tea and masala tea, you can make it with Nilgiri Tea or Assam CTC with ounce of grounded Tea masala (made of cardamom, clove, cinnamon stick) or You can add ginger juice or crushed ginger for ginger tea. You can make your own tea Masala with these ingredients and keep it in air tight bottle and whenever you are making tea, you can use it.
If you want to make tea without milk, just boil water and pour in a cup and put half teaspoonful tea leaves, cover it and keep it for 2 minutes. Once you can feel the aroma you can stain and your favorite cup of tea is ready to drink.
Happy tea drinking !! Drink tea and stay fit.
Locally you can buy these teas athttps://www.nativebag.in/tea