Indian Teas: Facts and Personality Traits

While at the World Tea East Expo in Philadelphia we learned some interesting facts from Devan Shah, President of ITI. Did you know that…

  1. Tea bushes were discovered growing wild in Assam in 1836
  2. 12 chests of tea were sent as the very first shipment to London in 1839
  3. First tea auction was held in India in 1861
  4. India became the largest exporter of tea to Britain in 1899

Devan described the teas of India like its regions and the people who live there. Very interesting concept…

Assam: The Strong One “If strength is your weakness, Assam is your tea”

  • The teas are like the people: bold, robust, harsh and aggressive
  • Birth place of Indian Teas
  • Worlds single largest tea growing region
  • Worlds most used tea
  • 900,000,000 lbs of tea is produced yearly
  • Is a very large leaf like the teas in Yunnan, China

Darjeeling: The Exotic One

  • Known as the Champagne of Teas
  • The people of Darjeeling are peaceful, are low spoken, soft and feel like they live in Nirvana on top of the world
  • 80 + tea gardens located in the misty section of North-East India
  • Himalaya Mountains
  • Borders Nepal
  • 7500 ft elevation
  • 1st Flush is called “Easter Flush”
    • Europe/Germany are the largest buyers of 1st flush teas but Japan is showing strong interest as well
    • Flavors are often vegetal, green, mild, and astringent
  • 2nd Flush (Spring)
    • Rains start to arrive until June/July
    • Some of the best Darjeelings are produced during this time of year
    • The green leaf hopper (similar to Taiwan) is part of what makes Darjeeling have the muscatel flavor
    • Very attractive tea with purplish browns, greens and silver tips
    • Coppery infused leaf has a penny color like a fine wine
  • Monsoon Flush
    • Rain teas, produced and picked every 4 days
    • Enormous leaf
    • Produced from Mid-July to October
    • Has more color and strength then other flushes
    • More abundant and often used in blends
  • Autumnal Flush
    • Light copper, brownish with a malty aroma
    • Produced late October – November

Nilgiri (Blue Mountains): The Forgiving One

  • First teas planted in 1859
  • Like the people of South India: intelligent and peaceful
  • You can’t over steep a Nilgiri tea
  • One of the best teas to use to make a chai concentrate
  • Less tannins and doesn’t cloud which makes it perfect for iced tea
  • Has overtones of a 2nd Flush Darjeeling but cost is less
  • 8500 ft altitude and grown year round but best time is Oct – Mar
  • Nilgiri is the only Communist state left in India

Which tea region do you most associate with? Are you a bold Assam character? Are you more gentle like a Darjeeling? More forgiving like a cup of tea from the Nilgiri region? Something to think about as you brew that magical cup of Indian tea.

Sip tea. Feel Happy!

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