It’s around 4 in the afternoon and people are gently sipping piping hot chai (tea),sometimes accompanied with a biscuit or two, gossiping with family and friends; this is a scene almost every Indian is familiar with. There is something almost magical about the simple dark coloured drink that seems to capture the taste buds of us Indians.
The first instance of tea drinking in India dates back to the Ramayana, nearly 2000 years ago. After that there is not much mention of tea until the arrival of the British East India company when large tracts of land were devoted to the production of this beverage.
With 3000 varieties, tea is now the world’s second most popular beverage, after water. Not surprisingly, India ranks pretty high in the list of top tea-consuming countries, and is also the world’s second largest exporter of tea.
Here’s a list of 5 kinds of tea popular in India.
1. Masala Chai
Add some Indian spices such as elaichi, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and herbs to your everyday black tea and what do you get? Masala chai! This aromatic and flavourful beverage originated in India but is now popular in snack houses across the world.
Health benefits: Prevents body inflammation. Helps beat fatigue.
2. Butter Tea
Butter tea or gur gur, as it is known in the Ladakhi language, is a beverage popular in the Himalayan regions. It is traditionally made from tea leaves, butter, water, and salt. Himalayan nomads are known to drink almost 40 cups a day!
Health benefits: Since it contains a lot of butter this tea has a high amount of calories, which is suitable for high altitudes. It also helps prevent chapped lips.
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3. Assam Tea
Assam tea, as its name suggests, is a black tea native to Assam. The tea is known for its body, briskness and strong malty flavour. It is not only popular in India but is also sold as a breakfast tea in many other parts of the world.
Health benefits: Increases mental alertness. Can also help in preventing certain cancers, such as ovarian and lung cancer.
4. Darjeeling Tea
Darjeeling tea is famous all over the world. It has many varieties, including black, green, oolong, and white. Typically, Darjeeling tea is thin bodied and has a distinct aromatic smell. A tea that soothes the senses, you could say.
Health benefits: Helps prevent obesity. Has the additional benefit of preventing gastric ulcers.
5. Nilgiri Tea
Nilgiri tea, also known as blue mountain tea, is grown in the southern part of the Western Ghats. It is a dark, flavourful and extremely aromatic tea. Just like the Darjeeling and Assam teas, the Nilgiri variety is also very popular around the globe. It makes great iced tea too.
Health benefits: It helps reduce weight and fight diabetes. It also helps improve oral health, which means fewer trips to the dentist.