Tea, albeit inherited from the British, is undeniably our national drink. It is the nation’s go-to morning fix. The milky goodness that is the Indianized Masala Chai is that quintessential, non-negotiable accompaniment to anything, be it a celebration or triumph, lonesome introspection, or irrefutable defeat. Quietly though, there is a younger India that has gravitated towards ‘cooler’ drinks. Drinks that are perceived as hipper, trendier, more ‘with it’. Tea is the parents’ generation’s drink. Now its all about coffee, lattes, and concocted tonics. Or it it?
A new breed of Indian tea makers and blenders have studied, turned connoisseurs, and are boldly venturing where no one has before. They are bringing about a huge resurgence in tea in India. A revival of the most inventive, innovative, and intoxicating variety. And no, it does not involve alcohol. What is does however involve is a lot of experimentation, that is leading to a lot of blending, that is resulting in some rather exotic teas.
If you thought wine and coffees offered variety, you will be amazed by the bouquet of gourmet teas on offer in India today. Greens, blacks, whites, non-caffeine, therapeutic as well as occasion-festive teas. And this is only the tip of the proverbial tea-cup. Artisanal teas, sourced through fair trade from the choicest estates are fused into delightfully creative potions by expert mixologists resulting in a slew of choice for the modern and discerning tea drinker. The palate is spoilt for choice. So invoking are the aromas and flavours of these teas that you can journey across the world in one sip of a brew. From the solitude of the Dal Lake in Kahmir to the streets and spices of Marrakech, teas are exciting, enticing, and super cool again.
There’s something for everyone. if you don’t care for your steaming cup of chai, most of these new-age teas can be infused into chilled water and made into Iced Teas. Peach and Lemon are passé. Now you can have Japanese Matcha, Lychee and Rose, to literally whatever amalgamation your mind can conjure up! Proliferating this onslaught of fine teas is a gamut of tea-tasting events where the most unlikely pairings are being offered across cities. These events acquaint a sometimes uninitiated, and otherwise studied palate to unthinkable attractions. Tea & cheese tastings, tea and chocolate tastings are all the rage.
The next time you dismiss tea as the ‘done and dusted’ drink, get online and smell the tea leaves. It’s a veritable Tea Party out there!