A day without tea in the life of a common Indian resident is an incomplete day. For tea or chai lovers, it doesn't really matter what the weather is like, chai is important. No day is too hot or too cold for a 15-minute chai break. As one of the most ancient beverages on the planet, tea has a special place in our lives and in our hearts.
Made from dried leaves in water, many choose to drink tea over coffee for its refreshing properties and lower level of caffeine. In India, however, tea is chai, a blend of milk, leaves, water, sugar, ginger, and lemongrass. It's not just refreshing, it's simply addicting.
If you are a tea lover, or a teetotaller, then you must know these different types:
Black Tea is one of the most popular flavours. It is also known as red tea in China, where it originated, and is fully oxidised. It has a strong flavour, based on region and type of black tea. Assam Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Darjeeling Tea, and English Breakfast Tea are some of the popular varieties of black tea.
This unoxidised tea is the most popular tea in the world. It has less caffeine than black tea. Camellia sinensis leaves are picked, dried, and heat-treated to prevent oxidation. The tea has a very earthy or a grassy flavour. Matcha, Sencha, Dragonwell Green Tea, and Gunpowder Green Tea are some of the popular varieties.
White tea is the least processed of all teas. The leaves of the plant are simply left to dry on their own, making it slightly oxidised. It has very little caffeine. The flavour is floral, delicate and naturally sweet. Some of the popular varieties of white tea are Silver Needle (Baihao Yinzhen) and White Peony (Bai Mudan).
Unlike other teas, this one is not made from leaves. It's made from dried herbs, fruits and flowers, which then create a wide range of flavours. Chamomile, ginger, hibiscus, lemongrass, peppermint, and dried fruits are some of the common ingredients. Since this tea does not have any caffeine, it is ideal for people with dietary restrictions. The tea has a fruity, delicate and a sweet taste. Hibiscus, peppermint, chamomile, and Yerba Mate are some of the popular varieties.
Made from the South African Red Bus, the leaves of rooibos tea are ground and bruised before being fermented and dried. This is also an herbal tea. The green rooibos isn't oxidised or fermented. It has smooth and an earthy flavour. Red rooibos tea and green rooibos tea are popular varieties.
This semi-oxidised tea is picked later in the season than green tea. The leaves come from the Camellia sinensis plant but are bruised by being tossed or shaken in baskets, which changes the oxidation process. They're heat-treated to stop the oxidation, which can vary based on region and create different flavours. The flavour depends on the oxidation level. It can range from light and fragrant to dark and full-bodied. Two popular varieties are Ti Kuan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) and Dan Cong (Phoenix Tea).
And before all chai lovers pounce at me for not including Indian tea, the quintessential chai, let me say this: Chai does not fall in any of the above categories. Chai is our way of life. Chai is love!