Bridges are built over a cuppa. Here are some websites that sell organic, handmade, hot and cold varieties of this most popular drink in India. And the list ends with a pairing guide by an expert.
With a 100-year-old legacy in running tea plantations, Rishav Kanoi ventured into the retail market under the banner of Tea Trove. The family had 42 tea gardens at one time. Now, Kanoi sources the teas from organic tea gardens. He initially began with a café model in Kolkata which was more of an eat out place. To give an authentic tea experience he moved to a kiosk model with blends for anyone and everyone.
Popular flavours: Moroccan Mint and Kashmiri Kahwa.
USP: Customized teas. Customers can do it themselves or take guidance. A popular blend—rose, chamomile, lavender, and jasmine.
Variety: over 25 different kinds and the brand gives tea bags too. There are gift hampers and samplers too.
2. Tea Monk
Teamonk Global Speciality Foods was incorporated in April 2016. The teas are sourced from plantations in Darjeeling, Nilgiris and Assam. The selection includes black, green, oolong and white teas curated by tea connoisseurs. And the curated collection is delivered in beautifully designed caddies. And there’s a sand glass, for each variety just needs two minutes to brew.
Some interesting ones: Budh Second Flush Black. Koge Jasmine Green Tea, Kozan Spearmint Green Tea, Taido Ginger Green Tea, Yoshin Lemon Green Tea, Sozen Orange Green Tea, Seiki Peppermint Green Tea, Reeti White Tea and Zoho Lemongrass Green Tea.
The teas also come in easy to carry pyramid tea bags. The site also offers teaware and offers gifting options too.
This is the first of its kind personalised Tea Subscription Service. Founded in 2012, Teabox has delivered tea to over 80 countries. Located in the heart of the Indian tea industry, Teabox’s fulfilment centers have easy access to tea gardens in Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri and source the freshest teas from 200 tea growers and estates.
What the subscriber gets: tea selected based on their habits and references.
You begin with a quiz on tastes and preferences. And then Teabox offers its own suggestions. The user takes a quick five-question quiz online and their choices are submitted to the Teabox prediction engine. Each user is assigned a ‘signature’ based on responses. The machine learning algorithms look for patterns to identify a selection of teas best suited to go with this signature profile. And as the users repeat and share their experiences with the prediction engine, it improves its discerning capabilities, thereby improving its understanding of a user’s choices and matches teas to them better.
So my subscription had Assam Masala Chai, Langharjan Classic from Assam and Green Hill Classic from Nepal. It comes in special black pack. Instructions on how to make the tea are given on the pack. It comes with a measuring spoon and muslin tea bags.
Organic and handmade in small batches, Auusm Tea is a calorie conscious person’s delight. It is sugar-free. The range comprises loose tea and tisane (fruit infusion) blends. These include green, white and first flush Darjeeling tea blends with herbs, fruit, flowers and spices, and tisanes in a range of flavours. The tea can be drunk hot or cold.
I tried Petrichor, After 8 and Hot Mango Mess. The box has instructions on how to make the tea. After 8 is a fruit infusion with mint and fennel, paired with apple and orange. Hot Mango Mess is Darjeeling white tea blend with (obviously) mango and an aftertaste of chilli. Petrichor is Darjeeling green tea layered with licorice and spices.
Typhoo, UK’s third largest tea brand, operates in India under the banner of Apeejay Surendra Group. There are regular teas from this century-old brand but as a traveller, I like the organic and flavoured dip ‘n’ sip travel kit. Light, flavourful and easy to carry around, new flavours are Triple Mint, Misty Darjeeling, Lemongrass, Night Time and Root Remedy.
I like RootRemedy which has ginger, ginseng and turmeric. Triple Mint has three types of mints. Misty Darjeeling gets its name from the mist that collects in the mountains where it grows and has fresh garden fragrance. Lemongrass needs no introduction and Night Time is a relaxant with chamomile and rose.
It’s a box full of herbs and all you need is some water. Yerba Mate Argentina, Rise & Shine blend for India has been developed by Anandini Himalaya Tea.
Yerba Mate is a plant in Argentina and the drink is prepared by drying the leaves. The staple drink is brewed in boiling water. It is drunk from ‘Calabaza Gourd’ which has a silver metal straw called Bombilla. This filters out the leaves and the taste is slightly strong and bitter. But for the Indian market, special teas have been prepared by Anandini Himalaya Tea, headed by tea sommelier Anamika Singh. While the company has two to three more blends in the offing, Rise & Shine is best for winter.
Yerba Mate has antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and an overall energizing effect. It can be consumed with cold or normal water too. But hot water works best.
TEA Pairing GUIDE
When hi-tea became a lesson by Akashdeep Singh Dhiman on pairing snacks with this popular drink
Tea is almost a ritual in India but it’s evolved beyond the homemade kadak chai in which spices were added to make it even more kadak. Flavoured and green tea has been around for a long time but Akashdeep Singh Dhiman, from Under One Roof Consultants, went a step ahead to explain the foods which work well with each flavour.
Cold teas: apple -cinnamon and orange-rose tea. The right juice and right quantity makes the difference in balancing the flavours.
Hot teas: such as chamomile or hibiscus are dried flowers. And the time of infusion makes the difference in the flavour and taste. So infused for three minutes, it’s a lighter flavour, but longer than five minutes means it could border on the bitter flavours.
Between sips of chamomile, hibiscus, Assam and green teas, Dhiman enlightened that it’s best not to taste your tea after brushing your teeth or even washing your hands with soap. The fragrance of these substances lingers and you actually can’t get the right flavours. In fact, professional tea tasters don’t brush their teeth for months so as to get the correct flavour. But its okay to swirl water in your mouth and throw out the waste stuck in the mouth.
The flavours of the tea need to complement the flavours of the food. Chamomile goes well with Dahi Kebab, Assam with strong flavours of Chicken Panini and green with fish and paneer. Light flavours means light teas, hard ones go well with hard tea.
The flavour of the dessert has to match the flavour of the tea too.
- Milk can be put in black tea as it is strong enough to create a balance. But in the lighter teas, milk being an overpowering agent, kills the flavours.
- Eat your bite completely and then sip your tea to get the right flavour.
- Spicy Indian foods work well with black tea.
- Green is best drunk with paneer and fish dishes.
- Western dishes go well with white tea.
- Hibiscus goes well with all things creamy.
PS: While drinking a lot of green tea is not advised, herbal infusions are a different ballgame. Best drunk in a cup with white interior and dipped for merely two to three minutes.