‘Chai’ is no longer a desi term. Our favorite cuppa is now popular worldwide. And yet, I like to believe that the most ardent lovers of tea are still Indians! I have one in my own family. My husband makes it a point to taste tea pretty much everywhere we travel to. And then follow the joys of discussing tastes, aromas, comparisons – a world of bliss for the tea lover! I, on the other hand, give him company with my own cup of green tea, which has also become widely popular in India. Come along on the tea trail of India as I explore the best of each region.
The Tea Regions of India
In India there are many different climates and all of them cater for their own special tea. While India produces all kinds of tea, it is best known for its black tea. In our country, it is not about the most famous teas, but about the famous regions that cultivate tea.
The best known tea regions in India are:
In the northeastern Indian state of Assam, the tea plantation is cultivated in the Brahmaputra valley, unlike most other regions where tea gardens are at heights. Tea from Assam is generally harvested 2 times: the first picking takes place at the end of March, the second from May to June. Assam tea has a pronounced robust taste and is also popular in or as English breakfast tea.
After many years of being with my husband did I fully understand why he chose Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas, as our honeymoon destination. Darjeeling tea is very exclusive and has a distinctly subtle flavor. It is considered to be one of the finest teas in the world and is also my personal favorite. Darjeeling tea is harvested three times a year, but the taste is very different every time. The first harvest is very light and very aromatic, the second and third crops are fuller of taste but the second is qualitatively the best.
Nilgiri is located in Ghats near Ooty in southern India. This south-facing tea region is even higher than Darjeeling – between 1000 and 2500 meters above sea level. The taste of Nilgiri tea is usually described as dark, deep aromatic with a distinct sweet smell and taste. A trip to the Nilgiri region and you are sure come back with a load full of flavored teas – including chocolate tea!
My Tea – Green Tea
I am one of those rare species of Indians who are not avid tea drinkers. While I enjoy an occasional cup of Darjeeling or Lady Grey, I have found a healthier companion in green tea. It started off with my “post partum weight loss” craze. Gradually, the quest for weight loss turned into a quest for fitness. I changed a lot of tactics but realized that in my “weight loss” quest, I had made one good ally – Green tea. The growing demand from health conscious tea drinkers like myself has led to an increase in cultivation of green tea in India.
Tea Time Snacks
While my husband continues to enjoy the traditional Indian teas, albeit with less sugar these days, I have managed to replace our calorie-laden tea time snacks with the likes of roasted makhana and organic chana jor garam from Place of Origin. The more I browse through their web store, the more I find interesting regional foods from all over India. My recent finds were the red chili stuffed pickle from Panipat, Haryana, Goan masalas and Shahi Kehwa tea from Kashmir. Coming to back to our topic of tea, their selection of teas and blends from almost every tea estate in India will bring the tea regions to your own table.