A Brief List of Different Traditional Teas in India
When most people think about a spot of tea, they think about the United Kingdom. But what most people don’t know is that India is the largest tea producer in the world in quantity, quality, and variety. There are over 14,000 tea estates in the country with almost every part of the country being a tea-growing area. The country’s geography allows for different climates. Therefore producing various tea varieties and qualities. This cash crop contributes about 4% of India’s national income every year.
But what kinds of teas are popular in India? And can you find them in other areas of the world?
This kind of tea can be found on the North Eastern side of the country. This area is heavily forested and is home to all kinds of wildlife, including rhinos. The first tea estate in the Assam region was established in 1837 and is said to offer high quality teas.
Located on the toes of the Himalayas, this region is cool and wet. This area produces exquisitely flavored tea. Many people consider the teas from this area as the world’s best teas. The region itself has three harvests, each one of them producing a distinctly flavored tea. The first harvest is known for light and aromatic teas, the second one has a moderate quality, while the third, usually in autumn, is a bit low in quality.
This region is found in the southern part of the country and is located at a higher elevation than Darjeeling, at an altitude of 1,000 to 2,500 meters. Nilgiri teas are mild and are mostly blended with other, more robust teas.
Classifications of Indian Teas
Indian teas can be classified in many different ways with the most common being how you manufacture them. In this case, you will get different types of teas that include black, green, instant, and oolong teas. You can also choose to classify based on manufacturing techniques in which case you get conventional, traditional, and homemade/handcrafted teas.
The most common types of traditional Indian teas are Phalap, which is prepared by the Singphos of Assam, and Lappet tea, by Shan tribes of Burma. These traditional teas are prepared by partially frying the ground tea, and then putting the final product inside bamboo shoots to preserve them.
Homemade and Handcrafted Teas
These teas, on the other hand, are manufactured at the garden level and in smaller quantities for exclusive marketing purposes. They are mostly made by small-scale growers of Assam and some tea estates of Darjeeling. These teas are organic orthodox green or black teas.
Conventional teas are the largest type of teas from India and are grown using approved agro-inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. They come from almost any tea-growing region in the country and are manufactured using normal tea manufacturing methods around the world.
However, tea from each region has special characteristics putting them into different categorizations. Under this category, you have oolong, black, or green teas, with black and green teas further conventionally categorized by different grades.
Specialty Teas in India
In addition to the many types of teas available in India, Indians have a special way of making tea known as chai. Chai can be made in various ways, but the most common ingredients include black tea, spices, milk, and sugar. The spices enhance the taste of tea giving it more flavor. This has led to its increasing popularity with major coffee and tea shops in North America. The most frequently used chai spices include: jasmine, masala, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper.
Special Health Teas
Also, natural health supplements are added in teas to increase its overall value and health benefits. Both green and black teas can be blended with mint, lemon, fennel seeds, peppermint, or combinations of these ingredients to increase their health benefits. Green teas also mix well with orange, ginseng, or kesar.
Different manufacturers have various tea blends and grades that are tested by expert tea tasters and marketed by individual tea companies. Each tea company manufactures these special blends depending on customer feedback on taste and preference.
Organic teas in India are cultivated without using any agro-chemical practices, but instead are harvested by natural means in cultivation.
Indian Teas Just for You
Finding a tea that suits you isn’t always easy. There are so many kinds of teas to try, how could you pick just one? India has created a world of teas that are loved in many countries, making it hard to know where your tea really comes from.
If you’re looking to buy authentic Indian teas, your best bet is to find your local Indian grocery store. Pioneer Cash & Carry specializes in selling a hand-picked selection of the finest teas from India. Take some time to find the perfect tea that suits you without going a world away from home!