Friday, July 26, 2013

Tea Additives

Every cup you sip appears to be the same but is that so?. The World of this wonderful hot beverage appear restricted in terms of flavor and taste. But this is not the truth the tea consumed on various Eastern Countries is diverse in taste and flavor.

The additives play a major role in the flavoring in tea leaf. The leaf is highly receptive to flavors and additives in many forms. Hence many aromatic elements are used as additives. 

Some of the popular ones are mentioned below:







Lemon Grass










Black Pepper




Bay leaf 



Special spice mixtures are also sold in India which contain many healthy spices.

Some citrus peels are also added like in the Earl Gray Tea popular in UK. Some essential oils are also added to the brew for flavor. In India jaggery is also used in place of sugar which accords it a distinct taste.

Goat's Milk and Camel's Milk are also used instead of cow and buffalo milk in many places.  On many instances rum and scotch whiskey are also added to tea. 

Tea Flavors

Most talked about beverage in the World tea comes along in thousands of flavors. The diversity in flavor and aroma arises out of many factors. This in spite of the plant being the same with little species variation. The major factors that determine the two aspects are the soil, climate, altitude and cultivation method adopted. 

The other factors that influence the flavor and aroma are the processing and blending with minor role being played by the storage or packing. Since a large variety of teas are grown and processed in tea gardens blending becomes important. The other reasons for blending are to obtain a said flavor or to manage the costs. Expensive teas like the premium Darjeeling tea are often mixed with regular black tea in order to reduce the cost.    

The brewing method also influences the flavor and aroma. In many countries brewing is a ceremonial ritual that is on vogue since many centuries. Masalas or spices also play a great role in the way the tea tastes. Nevertheless black tea finds the greatest popularity among the masses. Darjeeling tea is most popular as a premium beverage along with some varieties of green teas. Some of the leaf cultivated in China, Japan and India are popular as premium blends. The flavors are usually defined as strong, mild and light. Black tea is usually consumed a strong with strong flavor of tannins and other aromatic chemicals. High quality Darjeeling tea  has a slight bitter astringent flavor with very strong aroma.   

The hot tea beverage is not to be confused with herbal teas. These are a concoction of many herbs and usually do not contain the tea leaf.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Chai Wallahs

India is a unique and diverse country with amazing characteristic styles that lean on brink of being bizarre. The ubiquitous road side scene is large number of people on road, shanty shacks, and tea shops. The roadside in case of Indian baazars are dotted with pan shops, kirana stores, chaat wallahs and the chai wallah. 

The chai wallah may be nothing but a rickety hand cart or a small shop tucked away in a row. The latter may also be selling a wide variety of Indian fried snacks.  Thee hand carts selling tea in India are most numerous. In Southern India they may  also be selling coffee.   

The daily draws have a well set rapport with the chai wallah. Local business persons, office workers and visitors frequent these stalls and spend reasonable time listening to the chai wallahs banter or just gape at the World go past. 

The brewing style is as mesmerizing as the ensuing aroma is. The boiling liqueur is literally tossed in the air and collected back in the pan with acrobatic ease. In between sugar, spices and leaf are added algorithmically.  Each chai wallah has a unique way of brewing and serving the final concoction. 

The usual medium is small cheap glasses that do not cause any concern if broken or lost. These are briskly washed with murky water and steaming stream of tea poured into them. The liqueur is a thick extract of all the aromatic as well as non aromatic constituents of the tea leaf and the masalas. Nevertheless you get a flavor that does not distill during the brewing at home. The flavor and aroma is addicted and hence tea makers in the offices rust within a short period of disuse.  

The chai wallah and his masala tea are irreplaceable for the masses in India. Everywhere you go there is one serving the magic and steaming. Be careful or you will end up with scalded oral cavity.  

Green Tea The Okinawa Observations

Okinawa is a Japanese Island renowned world over for healthiest older people on Earth.  The older generation in this Island has a life span of eighty years and above. They are known for their agility and active lifestyle in spite of their age.  

After many conjectures it was discovered that this attribute was due to a type of tea consumption known as Jasmine Green Tea.  This is also known as San Pin Tea in local lingo and the elderly consume large amounts. The health benefits accrue from this consumption and decrease if the consumption is reduced. This has been noted amongst the Okinawa population that has moved away from this island.   

The clue to this amazing fact is quality green tea as in the case of San Pin. The tea contains the youngest leaves picked from the plant. The plant is cultivated seasonally at moderate heights and has limited fluoride contents.

For those not in habit of consuming the wonderful brew green tea extract is the answer. The extract accords all the benefits that arise out of the green tea. The antioxidants, poly phenols and ECGC are all present in the magic leaf.  This leaf is known to benefit in cardiac ailments, diabetes, cancer and help reduce weight. 

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