Thursday, December 18, 2008

Assam Teas

India is the largest producer of black tea and most of it comes from Assam the NE state of India. Assam produces various type of black varieties most of which are consumed at home and exported to many countries.

Though tea is a product of same plant Camellia sinensis many different variants of the plant occur in different regions of the World. These variants or sub species have their own distinct flavor and aroma along with other characteristics. Many popular tea brands contain blends of Assam tea leaf.

Assam tea was discovered by Robert Bruce in the mountains of Rangpur, erstwhile capital of the Assam. The discovery gave the British a chance to cultivate tea in India as an alternative to expensive tea imports from Chinese mainland.

Under the then Governor General of India, Lord William Bentick a committee was formed in 1834 to cultivate and produce leaf from the indigenous tea plant recently discovered. Tea plantation in the Indian state of Assam was not much difficult as the plant was growing freely in the forests of Assam.

It was not till some time that Assam black tea was tried and tested and eventually exported to UK. But soon after this Assam leaf was on its way to never ending journey of being the most popular black leaf in the World. Assam variety is consumed using many recipes in India and the World. It is inseparable part of Masala chai which is gaining popularity Internationally for its taste and medicinal properties.

There are more than 800 tea gardens in Assam that provide large scale employment and contribute to Indian economy.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tea in UK

Tea import began into Britain in year 1660s with the union of Royals. British King Charles II married Catherine of Braganza from Portugal a confirmed tea drinker. She made the brew popular in the court.

Initially the trade was controlled by two companies Chinese Hongs and East India Company. At the start tea was mainly consumed by the upper class but as time went it became popular among the masses especially Darjeeling tea in UK which is very popular in English tea rooms. Both Assam and Niligiri tea leaf are popular in UK. Green leaf is becoming popular for its health benefits.

Tea is consumed a many times a day in UK and high tea is usually an evening meal. The brew is made with milk with addition of sugar cubes.

Niligiri

Nilgiri tea from Tamil Nadu in Southern India is highly aromatic and flavor filled black leaf. The liquor is dark and rich in fragrance. It is grown in hilly portions of the Western Ghats mountain ranges down South. The tea estates that are famous for producing Nilgiri leaves in the district of Niligiri hence the name. Other tea cultivating districts are Munnar and Central Travancore in the Indian state of Kerala.

Popular Nilgiri variety comes in various shapes and size. The price range differs as per the grade and cultivation method used. Orange Pekoe is expensive hand graded version of full leaf teas. The major production of this black leaf is in CTC type. Some masala chai manufacturers also use this leaf in their spiced tea blends.

Niligiri competes with popular Darjeeling leaf and Assam leaf. But due to a distinct characteristic of its own and unique taste it has a vast following among tea lovers in India and abroad.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hot tea snacks

Not every bite goes down well with a cup of tea. What goes well an experienced tea lover knows.

Tea is seldom to be consumed alone except when in for anytime brew to fight cold or just to get that shot that cheers. Else organized sessions which are mostly morning and evening but for some could be at any other time of the day.

While having tea as a daily routine in organized sessions one should always consume light snacks along. This is for two reason to maintain a healthy diet structure and to reduce the possible increase in stomach acidity levels.

Best accompaniments for a party are light snacks which are not heavily spiced and sweets like cakes and pastries which are not soaked in sugar. In India the most popular accompaniments are chiwada, fried peanuts, sev, samosas and ubiquitous pakoras. Seldom is tea consumed along with a heavy meals though there are lovers whom I have seen having hot strong black tea with lunch and dinner.

The food switches drastically in English tea rooms where the offerings are light sandwich or cookies and cakes. The leaf favored is not the usual black leaf but expensive Darjeeling tea leaf. This leaf is highly aromatic and very subtle in taste with lighter color than other black teas.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Green tea types

One unique characteristic of green tea leaf is that since it undergoes less oxidation and are steamed the leaves retain their herbal freshness, mellow taste and aroma.

Green teas which have gained a lot of popularity all over the World are:

Gun powder

Sencha - Japan

Macha - Japan

Jasmine

Anji

Genmaicha

Darjeeling Green Tea - India

Though green teas have their own characteristic flavor there is a commonality which is basic of all the green tea leaves. While brewing green tea loose leaf is preferred since one has to constantly work to immerse the green tea bags to extract poly phenols rather then let it afloat.

The poly phenol amount increases in the brew if the leaves are steeped for a longer time and the brew does not reach the boiling point during the tea making.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tea Videos

See tea videos from Waghbakri Tea House one of the largest branded tea manufacturer and seller in India.

Tea ads

Waghbakri Tea

Thursday, May 22, 2008

All about Darjeeling Tea

The British prefer Darjeeling tea in their tea parties. This comes as no surprise since it was a British gentleman who brought the seeds from China and cultivated them in Darjeeling. This small step gave rise to one of the World's best leaf.

Not only in UK the popularity of Darjeeling leaf spread all over the British empire. The sweet muscatel elegant taste and subtle floral aroma which engulfs the whole room when the tea is brewed is what makes this leaf so famous. The liquor is thin bodied and light in color. This leaf is a connoisseur's delight thanks to its special characteristics.

The most popular Darjeeling teas are the black leaf but green and Oolong leaf from these estate are slowly gaining ground. Darjeeling leaf is cultivated only in tea estates of the West Bengal district of India. The tea from this region is certified by the tea board of India. To the original Darjeeling leaf a certificate and a logo is assigned by the board of India.

Inferior tea leaves are often sold as Darjeeling leaf. There are blends made by mixing Darjeeling leaf and inferior leaves from other regions.This leaf is sold in packets, cartons and tea bags. Recently jars containing this wonderful brew have entered the market. 

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Popular green teas

Green tea beverage is made from leaves of Camellia sinensis which under minimal oxidation when being processed. The origin of green tea leaf is from China and spread to India and other tea drinking countries.

Green tea leaf is becoming largely popular in the Western countries as well especially to countries which have started consuming black variety. Like black variety that of green tea have come into picture. One of the finest quality green leaf comes from the Darjeeling tea estates in India.The difference arises from region, climate, soil and method of cultivation and processing. The rising popularity is also due to the health benefits it offers especially organic leaf which is green tea grown without using chemicals.

In China Zhejiang is home to most famous of teas. Xi Hu Longjing is pan friend and has a flat appearance. Other tea varieties Hui Ming, Long Ding, Hua Ding, Zucha and Qing Ding.

Japanese Green Leaf

Gokuru is a steamed tea from Japan. Most popular green brew in Japan as Genmaicha. It was brought to Japan by a Buddhist priest from China.

Green Tea from Ceylon is not so popular and does not find a worldwide market.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tea: How to enjoy best

If tea tasting and blending are an art so is the way it is prepared. Tea preparation and serving is something perhaps a regular party giver or tea ceremony holder would hold expertise in. It is a hosts delight to serve this hot brew to his or her esteemed guests.

Tea preparation begins with choosing the leaf. In informal circumstances exquisite tea varieties are not a must since cost matters. Taking the weather into consideration strong, dark tea with astringent flavor suits the best, where as in hot weather brew with subtle aroma and sweet taste is more befitting. In the case of former black leaf should be used where as in the case of latter green leaf is apt.

When serving tea in informal occasions, porcelain cups and saucers should be used. The cups brimming with hot beverage should be served on a plain tray along with biscuits and other light snacks.

In case of formal occasions as tea parties and ceremonies, the finest variety of leaf with strong aroma and subtle muscatel taste should be used. A fine example is Darjeeling black and green tea leaf. Premium variety of Assam black leaf also befits the occasion.

The recipe should always be plain and simple with or without milk. Spices and condiments should never be added as they spoil the original flavor of the tea leaf. The connoisseurs would prefer the drink this way.

Special care should be taken whence preparing the brew. The water should be boiled and then allowed to simmer. The leaves should be added during this phase and should be allowed to soak in for some time. As soon as the strong aroma of the leaves starts to emanate from the steaming brew the mixture should be strained.

This recipe gives fine tasting black tea brew. If milk has to be added then it should be done whence serving.

Whence serving exquisitely designed bone china or silver cups and saucers should be used along with kettles of same quality that hold the black leaf and milk. Specially designed containers should be used to hold sugar cubes. The black tea should be gently poured into the cups. Milk should be poured too for those who wish to have it that way. Along with tea, light sandwiches, snacks and biscuits find good accompaniments.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tea tasting

The process of selecting tea leaves for blending is referred to as tasting. Tea tasting is an art which is by the virtue of being associated with industry as a blender. The primary senses responsible for tasting are the sense of taste, your taste buds of the tongue and the sense of smell or odor dependent upon your olfactory organs or the nose.

The tea leaves have three basic flavor profiles:
Foreground profile or the top note
Middle profile or the body note
Background flavor or the base note.

These three profiles characterize a leaf flavor and aroma. The aromatic and volatile compounds in the tea leaf are responsible for our taste and odor perception.

Apart from this the physical aspects and look and feel of the tea leaf also comes into the picture.
Mouth Feel for dryness and slipperiness.
Temperature for relative volatility of the constituents.

Method

The tea is prepared in a lidded container such that the volatile components are not freed but infused in the brew. The expert taster should frequently wash hands, rinse his or her mouth with pure water or eat bland biscuit etc. Sometime long hours would be needed to get rid of desensitization that has crept in after hours of tasting.

All the tea tasting happens in milliseconds.

In the tea flavor release process, first the solubility of the leaf in saliva takes place and the solubility components or the aromatic constituents are perceived by the taste buds. The volatile constituents then evaporate and reach the nerve endings in the olfactory region of the nasal cavity.

As stated tea tasting is an expert’s job and lot of hard work is required to understand the taste and aroma of leaves and create a master blend.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Indian chai tea

Although tea is not unique to India since it is drunk all over the world now..well almost. Indian chai comes in mind boggling flavors and is sold at roadside dhaba to five star tea rooms. But the ubiquitous chai wala justifies this name of the hot beverage. The recipe and method of making the tea beverage differs from person to person and place to place.

Tea makers have devised their on concoction of masalas or spices to add as flavoring. Such teas are known as masala chai in India and spice tea all over the world.

The masala chai is added to the black tea leaf mostly and rarely to the green tea beverage. But aromatic herbs as spearmint, mint and also lime is added to both black and green tea beverages. Even chocolate and vanilla flavors are added to the hot beverage but very rarely in India.

It is the simple recipe that finds popularity with the chai walas though the tea leaf may be often of different variety and brands.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Enjoying Green Tea

Best way green tea can be had is plain dark with little sugar and a dash of lime. The secret of enjoying green tea is to buy the right kind of leaf. I like Darjeeling green leaf the best though Darjeeling black leaf is no less aromatic and flavorful.

Darjeeling leaves carry a unique aroma and flavor though the aroma is strong and fills the whole room the flavor is subtle and tends to be on the sweeter side unlike that of the black teas from Assam which are a bit bitter in taste.

Another way to enjoy green tea is with milk and sugar and add some spices like ginger and cardamom. For more exotic taste add cinnamon powder. I find lemon grass tea yuck! But it has immense health benefits especially when you are down with cold and a bad throat.

Some people add garam masala or a mixture of spices to green tea in India but I believe this concoction suits the black variety more than it suits the green tea beverage. Never the less spice tea is common in India and who like to add what is his or her business after it is your cup of tea or Chai as they call it in India.