It is rather apparent, that if given a choice, most of us would prefer an artistic latte, over an elegant cup of tea. While the popularity of this soothing, healthy and easy to make beverage is fairly diminished, we might need a lecture from the 7th Duchess of Bedford, pointing out the importance of “bridging the lengthy gap between luncheon and dinner,” through the luxury of drinking tea. Thus, I shall give you 7 reasons to make Her Highness proud by trying out these adventurous flavors of regional teas throughout India.
1. Assam Tea, Assam
It is a black tea grown at or near sea level, is known for its body, briskness, malty flavor, and strong, bright color. It was discovered back in 1823, thanks to a wonderful Scotsman. This tea is a great companion to a chai base i.e. milk and sugar, making it the perfect breakfast tea served along with meat sandwiches.
2. Nilgiri Tea, Tamil Nadu
The tea is intensely aromatic, strong, and well-balanced, with a smooth and rounded flavor. It is often used as the base for tea blends. A unique type includes “frost tea,” where the leaves are harvested in the winter. The quick chill creates a concentrated sweet and rosy flavor in the leaves, very similar to what you would find in an “ice wine.” It is best served with heavy meals like lasagna, meatloaf, etc.
3. Darjeeling Tea, West Bengal
Proudly known as the “Champagne of teas,” the flavor can include a tinge of astringent tannic characteristics and a musky spiciness, sometimes described as “muscatel.” Traditionally a black tea, it is also widely used as green, oolong and white tea. It is best served with cookies or biscuits.
4. Kahwa, Kashmir
Carrying the nip of a lost homeland, this tea has aided Kashmiri’s fight the winter chill for years. It is a traditional fragrant green tea infused with delicate flavors of whole spices and the lovely crunch of almonds. With a subtle sweet flavor and the smell of Christmas cinnamon, it is the perfect winter tea. It is best enjoyed at any time of the hour or with light snacks.
5. Sheer Chai, Kashmir
It is a unique underrated salt tea from the beautiful valley of Kashmir. It is a delicacy of taste which one can aspire to as it enlivens your senses with its velvety aroma and mild sweetness. The pink color of the tea is a visual treat. It is a great companion to local bread and bakery meals.
6. Kulhar Masala Chai, India
This tea has evolved throughout various states of India with minor changes in every culture. There is no fixed origin as it is steeped in tales of royalty and herbal medicine thousands of years back.
As the name suggests, the masala chai is a concoction of various spices with milk and sugar. With a strong mean taste and a heavenly aroma, the flavor is enjoyed in western culture in forms of chai latte. Kulhar is a handle-less terracotta cup used to suffuse the beverage with an “earthy aroma” that is considered traditionally appealing.
7. Gur Gur Chai, Ladakh
The famous butter tea from the Himalayan regions is the star of the Tibetan culture. It is a salt tea with a special ingredient, namely the yak butter. This undervalued tea is available only in certain regions. A heavy tea, it is considered as one of the best antidotes to dehydration and cold. With large amounts of caloric energy, it is best to drink it on an early winter morning.