What comes to your mind when you think of India? We bet a wide range of things, but a common topic that often crops up is tea.
Tea in India is a staple for many natives, and it's so good it's the second-largest producer in the world.
A Few Facts About Indian Tea
You may not know much about Indian tea, but we bet you've tried it before. Indian tea is incredibly popular.
- India is the fourth-largest exporter across the globe.
- Similarly, India is the world's largest producer of black tea, and all of its tea exports were valued at $686.67 million in 2015-2016.
- That's a lot of money! If you're interested in knowing why Indian tea is so popular, check out our table of top picks.
What Is Indian Tea?
Indian tea is commonly referred under the Hindi word known as Chai. This is regularly used inside and outside of India. Tea is so popular in India that it has over 100,000 estates where many tea workers harvest tea for global consumption. Indian tea can vary a great deal based on the climate and region it's grown. Most of the teas they have are loose-leaf and tend to be black.
Regions Of Growing
In India, there are three main regions where tea grows, which are:
- Assam: Out of all of India, this is the largest region where tea grows. The main tea plant that grows in Assam is called the Camilla Sinensis Assamica. Assam has tropical temperatures with frequent rain and is, therefore, an optimal place for tea growth. The region has a long river and also mountains.
- Darjeeling: Darjeeling is situated in West Bengal and is in the eastern part of India. The tea grown in Darjeeling is high in gardens located at 2000-7000 feet above sea level. Many of these tea gardens are in mountain ranges and alpine forests. As Darjeeling is located high above sea level, there are frequent changes to the weather. Sometimes it can experience monsoon rains, misty winds, and other times sunshine.
- Nilgiri: Nilgiri is situated in the South of India and is in the state of Tamil. Similar to Darjeeling, it's situated at a high altitude. Most of the tea grown in Nilgiri was previously was exported to Eastern Europe and Russia. Today it's exported worldwide and contributes to 25% of India's overall tea production. Nilgiri has a tropical climate all year round and has jungle like weather.
Types Of Indian Tea
If you're looking to drink Indian tea, there are quite a few varieties to choose from. They differentiate in flavors, colors, and strengths.
- Black tea: The most common type of tea produced in India is black tea. Black tea derives from Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri. The tea tends to have a malty yet rich flavor and a strong red looking color. Today, this tea is so popular that it's added to many blends like English breakfast and Assam blend.
- Green tea: Green tea is manufactured from the Camella Sinensis plant and is grown across India. The green tea produced in India comes in a variety of flavors and strengths. One of the main reasons they have a variety is because there are different growing conditions and horticulture practices in various parts of the country. Mainly green tea is made in Darjeeling, Assam, Meghalaya, and Nilgiri. The common types of green tea are: Kashmiri Kawa Green Tea, Meghalaya Green Tea.
- White tea: White tea in India is produced across three of the main regions. The tea itself has different characteristics depending on the region it comes from. Some white teas can have a crisp and floral taste, while others have a velvety texture with tropical fruit notes. The common white teas in India are: Darjeeling loose leaf white tea, Silvertip white tea.
- Oolong tea: Oolong tea is mainly grown in West Bengal in India, in areas such as Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Most of the estates in India that make these teas are run by fifth generation tea planters. The common types of oolong tea in India are: Darjeeling Oolong tea, Kashmiri Kawa Oolong tea.
What To Look for In an Indian Tea?
If you're looking to purchase Indian teas, you should consider the following before buying:
- Type Of Tea: Before you begin purchasing Indian tea, you should think about what color and flavor suits your preference. Following this, then you should research Indian teas that align with your tastebuds.
- Location: Not all Indian teas are the same; some flavors, textures, and colors vary geographically. If you know what type of tea you want, you should look at the local areas that grow those specific teas.
- Price: Finally, you should always review the price of Indian tea irrespective of you buying loose leaf or tea bags. There are various prices out there for Indian teas, but they aren't that expensive to buy. However, at the same time, they're not that cheap as many of them have import tax.
Best Indian Tea for You
Overall, teas in India mainly come from Darjeeling, Nilgiri, and Assam. The main types of tea India produces are black, white, green, and oolong. All of these teas can have various flavors and textures based on the area you get them from. When choosing an Indian tea, make sure you consider the type of tea, location, and price.
Where to buy Indian tea?
Indian tea is quite easy to purchase; you need to go to an Indian grocery store. If you can't find it in a grocery store, you'll be able to easily get it from online vendors like Amazon.
What does Indian tea taste like?
While there are many Indian teas, one of the most common ones drank is Chai. Chai is so popular due to the sweet and milky taste it provides. In addition to this, you can also taste cloves, cardamom, and ginger.
What are the most important tea regions in India?
The most important tea regions in India are Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri, and Sikkim. The biggest tea growing regions are Darjeeling and Assam.
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