December 15 in the leading countries of tea production is celebrated annually as International Tea Day. Recently Russia has also joined this holiday.
Earlier in the pages of this blog we have already spoken about the legendary tea with spices "masala", but now we will focus on the traditional, in European sense, leaf Indian tea.
For centuries, India has been famous for the variety of their products and one of the most popular is, of course, tea. Due to the unique climate, this plant has received all the necessary conditions for the existence on the territory of India. Each year, this country exports up to 200 thousand tons of tea around the world, which is 15.25% of the total market!
Actually, there are four varieties of Indian teas: Assam, Darjeeling, Sikkim and Nilgiri. They differ not only by places they are from, but also by their organoleptic properties.
Assam is the market leader. This variety of large-leaved black tea is cultivated in North-East India, in the valley of the river Brahmaputra. It is noteworthy that in the UK, this tea has its second name – "tea for Breakfast". Due to caffeine, it perfectly invigorates and strengthens blood vessels. As for the taste, Assam has a characteristic spicy aroma with notes of honey and tart taste.
Darjeeling is harvested only manually. In addition, it is called the "champagne tea" for its light colour with a delicate Muscat flavor and floral aroma. Such properties are given under special conditions of its growth in a cold and humid climate and high-altitude location of plantations in the Himalayas. Darjeeling soothes and improves digestion, so it is good to drink in the evening or at night.
The price tag on an elite tea variety of "Nilgiri" comes up to 600 US dollars per 1 kilogram. It grows in the South of India, where abundant rains allow collecting it year-round. Nilgiri has a mild flavor and a delicate lemon aroma. The antioxidants contained in its leaves, have a therapeutic effect on the cardiovascular system.
Sikkim is the youngest of all premium varieties of Indian tea, which is produced in the North-East of the country. It is on the market since the end of XX century, and despite this, is rather popular among tea connoisseurs and experts. Highland conditions give a sweet taste of Assam to Sikkim and a muscatel flavor of Darjeeling. Its first collection in a year is considered the most valuable and useful that influences on its price and demand.
It is sometimes difficult to find a real Indian tea outside. And not only a special marking on the packaging, but a trained eye of the buyer can help to choose the right one. Here are some tips from the team of Talk Of The Town, which are worth to know to buy a good Indian tea:
- Tea should have a pleasant smell even not brewed;
- Good tea is quite dry, but not too dry;
- The real Indian tea always has twisted leaves and without branches;
- Special marking on the packaging is a must;
- Ideally, tea must be fresh and be kept not more than several months on a shop shelf.
Enjoy your tea!