Every afternoon, at most Indian homes, the family gets together to enjoy a cup of piping hot chai (tea), sometimes accompanied by a biscuit or two. There is something magical about the simple beverage.
Tea is one of the oldest beverages that mankind has been gifted with for ages now! It’s prepared by soaking dried leaves in water. With more than 3000 varieties, tea is now the world’s second most popular beverage, after water. Not surprisingly, India tops the chart of top tea-consuming countries, and also happens to be the second largest exporter of tea.
Here’s a list of 8 types of tea popular in India:
India is the biggest exporter of tea in the world. While tea plants are native to parts of north-western India, they became a part of every household palate only after the British began producing it. However, owing to the diverse cultural pantry of India, the locals created the tea drink that’s now known as masala chai – black tea boiled with milk, sugar, and flavourful spices like ginger, clove, cardamom, and cinnamon. Every family in India has a personal recipe for it.
Assam tea, like the name suggests, is a form of black tea native to Assam. This tea type is known for its strong malty flavour and briskness which is widely preferred not only in India but around the world. Assam tea increases mental alertness and prevents certain cancers like lung and ovarian.
Green tea is not just healthy but refreshing too! Some loose green teas are scented with flowers or mixed with fruits to create aromatic or flavoured teas. Straight green tea has a clean taste and can uplift moods instantly. Known as the healthiest beverage on the planet, green tea is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body.
Butter tea, also known as Gur Gur Chai, is popular in Ladakh and Sikkim. It is traditionally made from tea leaves, yak milk butter, water, and salt. Himalayan nomads are known to drink more than 30 cups a day! Also available with cow butter, this tea comes in tiny cups that will leave you craving for more.
Originated in the valleys of Kashmir, the Kahwa makes up to be an exotic chai with rich flavours. Similar to other Kashmiri beverages, this too, looks complex but is simple to make. All that is required is boiling hot water, to which, cinnamon, saffron, cardamom, and dried rose petals need to be added. Towards the end, green tea leaves need to be added to this concoction to make it as strong as preferred. It can be topped with honey and almond silvers. This rich and flavourful tea tastes best when enjoyed on a winter day.
Another popular Kashmiri tea preparation, Noon Chai, or Sheer Chai, is mostly known for being distinctly pink in colour. Made by brewing tea leaves along with cardamom and baking soda until a bright pink colour is achieved, this tea is usually accompanied by milk and salt. You can also add almonds, pistachio, and cinnamon.
Nilgiri tea, widely known as blue mountain tea, finds its origin in the southern part of the Western Ghats. This is one tea that’s most sought-after around the globe due to its extremely aromatic, flavourful, and dark features. Nilgiri tea tastes great in the form of iced tea too. Plus, its benefits range from improving oral health to reducing weight and even fighting diabetes.
It’s rare to not know about Darjeeling tea. Almost all Indians as well as people from other parts of the world are well accustomed to this tea type. It includes many varieties such as white, black, green, and oolong. Most typically, Darjeeling tea has a distinct aromatic smell and is thin-bodied, which makes it soothing and subtle. It helps to prevent gastric ulcers and obesity, as well.