Indian Teas: Facts and Personality Traits

While at the World Tea East Expo in Philadelphia we learned some interesting facts from Devan Shah, President of ITI. Did you know that…

  1. Tea bushes were discovered growing wild in Assam in 1836
  2. 12 chests of tea were sent as the very first shipment to London in 1839
  3. First tea auction was held in India in 1861
  4. India became the largest exporter of tea to Britain in 1899

Devan described the teas of India like its regions and the people who live there. Very interesting concept…

Assam: The Strong One “If strength is your weakness, Assam is your tea”

  • The teas are like the people: bold, robust, harsh and aggressive
  • Birth place of Indian Teas
  • Worlds single largest tea growing region
  • Worlds most used tea
  • 900,000,000 lbs of tea is produced yearly
  • Is a very large leaf like the teas in Yunnan, China

Darjeeling: The Exotic One

  • Known as the Champagne of Teas
  • The people of Darjeeling are peaceful, are low spoken, soft and feel like they live in Nirvana on top of the world
  • 80 + tea gardens located in the misty section of North-East India
  • Himalaya Mountains
  • Borders Nepal
  • 7500 ft elevation
  • 1st Flush is called “Easter Flush”
    • Europe/Germany are the largest buyers of 1st flush teas but Japan is showing strong interest as well
    • Flavors are often vegetal, green, mild, and astringent
  • 2nd Flush (Spring)
    • Rains start to arrive until June/July
    • Some of the best Darjeelings are produced during this time of year
    • The green leaf hopper (similar to Taiwan) is part of what makes Darjeeling have the muscatel flavor
    • Very attractive tea with purplish browns, greens and silver tips
    • Coppery infused leaf has a penny color like a fine wine
  • Monsoon Flush
    • Rain teas, produced and picked every 4 days
    • Enormous leaf
    • Produced from Mid-July to October
    • Has more color and strength then other flushes
    • More abundant and often used in blends
  • Autumnal Flush
    • Light copper, brownish with a malty aroma
    • Produced late October – November

Nilgiri (Blue Mountains): The Forgiving One

  • First teas planted in 1859
  • Like the people of South India: intelligent and peaceful
  • You can’t over steep a Nilgiri tea
  • One of the best teas to use to make a chai concentrate
  • Less tannins and doesn’t cloud which makes it perfect for iced tea
  • Has overtones of a 2nd Flush Darjeeling but cost is less
  • 8500 ft altitude and grown year round but best time is Oct – Mar
  • Nilgiri is the only Communist state left in India

Which tea region do you most associate with? Are you a bold Assam character? Are you more gentle like a Darjeeling? More forgiving like a cup of tea from the Nilgiri region? Something to think about as you brew that magical cup of Indian tea.

Sip tea. Feel Happy!

Indian Teas: Facts and Personality Traits

A Tea Journey to Sri Lanka and South India

map_indiaI’ve traveled a good bit over the years touching down in places like Southern Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean and now it appears that I will have the pleasure of visiting India and Sri Lanka. I am thrilled!

Having been invited by Pearl Dexter, Editor of Tea. A Magazine to join her and 6 others for a private tour of the tea estates and gardens in both countries, I must say the excitement is hard to contain. Those participating in this wonderful tour include: Pearl Dexter; Cynthia Gold, Tea Sommelier, Boston Park Plaza Hotel; her husband Julian; Danielle Beaudette, Owner/The Cozy Tea Cart; Judy Larkin, The Larkin Tea Company; Carol Sims, Tea Embassy; her husband Bob; and myself.

I am so looking forward to exploring the estates in Sri Lanka and the  Nilgiri region of Southern India.Though the idea of a 24 hour flight out of JFK less then thrills me, I’ve no doubt what awaits will be magical. I can’t wait to sip of cup of freshly produced tea!

Our group will leave the US on April 16th and return on the 25th. My hope is to blog, twitter and facebook while I am there, but that will require the leap over to AT&T and the wonderful iPhone. I cant wait!

I hope to bring back a ton of stories along with a fresh crop of teas from both countries! Below is a bit of info on both regions:

tea-estates-in-nilgiri1Nilgiri: South India’s Nilgiri means “blue mountain.” Started in the 19th century. 2nd largest tea producing area after Assam. Especially teas produced in altitude regions of over 1,600m surrounded by plants like eucalyptus or cypress trees, are known internationally as “fragrant teas” and highly recognized by their special flavors.

plantation2Sri Lanka: Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka, is considered the best tea in the world. The influence of climatic conditions of its plantation imparts to the product a variety of flavors and aromas, synonymous with quality. Why is Ceylon Tea considered unique? The diversity in flavor – something that other tea producing countries do not have. Teais = grown in six agro climatic regions, each region giving its own flavor profile to the tea grown in it. There are six regions for tea in Sri Lanka: Uva, Nuwara eliya, Udapussellawa, Kandy, Dimbulla and Ruhuna. The tea sectosr in Sri Lanka have always been a vital component of her economy. It is also the country’s largest employer providing employment both directly and indirectly to over one million people. It also contributes a significant amount to Government revenue and to the gross domestic product.

Happy Sipping!

A Tea Journey to Sri Lanka and South India

Chocolate Tea?

Chocolate tea?
chocolate in my tea?

As a self proclaimed “tea snob” sometimes its hard to wrap my hands around a trendy blend.  Especially some that are just… the oddest of concoctions. I’ll refrain from mentioning anything specific, but one that comes to mind is a tea with so much strawberry in it I dumped it out immediately. It wasnt tea, it was Strawberry Quick!

We don’t sell “crazy blends.”  I like a blended tea that keeps with the integrity and mission of the company which is to: source and sell the best leaf with the best flavor. Quite simply: I like quality. Recently, a fellow TeaPeep & tea merchant strongly recommended I give chocolate tea a try. Here is what happened:

I loved it.

With just a touch of local honey (buy local!) to boost the chocolate flavor – you’ve got yourself one of the best secrets out there! Rich, smooth and creamy it reminded me of sitting fireside in Vail … watching everyone ski and snowboard into each other.

Do you have a chocolate addiction? Consider yourself a choco-holic? Like a chocolate-y snack around midnight? Try chocolate tea to satisfy the craving. I highly recommend this wonderful, surpising tea as a way of enjoying chocolate and tea without… consequence. (ie: calories).

*** If you contact me directly (info@pearlteas.com),  I’ll send the first 10 TeaPeeps a sample of our newest member to the tea family: “TeaChocolatte”.

In the subject line put: “TeaChocolatte, please!”  and let me know if you found us via Twitter or the TeaLove Blog! and don’t forget your mailing address!

Happy (TeaChocolatte) sipping!

Chocolate Tea?