India has a long and rich history of tea cultivation, dating back to the early 1800s. Today, the country boasts some of the most diverse and unique tea cultures in the world. Among the countless tea varieties grown in India, some of the most popular are statutorily protected. These teas are legally recognized and protected by law to ensure their quality and uniqueness. Here are eight of the most beloved statutorily protected teas from India.
Munnar, a picturesque hill station in Kerala, is famous for its carpet of tea bushes that cover its undulating terrain. The teas grown in Munnar are a blend of health and taste, cultivated in the undisturbed ecosystem of the Western Ghats. With some tea plantations located at a staggering 2200 meters above sea level, Munnar has some of the highest growing tea regions in the world. The tea gardens are interspersed with fuel plantations and ‘Sholas,’ which are unique features of this area. Munnar Orthodox tea is known for its distinctive clean and medium-toned fragrance of sweet biscuit in dip malt. The golden yellow brew with an orange depth is a combination of strength and briskness, and it is known to have a startlingly lingering note of sweetness in the finish.
Located just below Darjeeling, at the foothills of the Himalayas, is the land of Dooars, famous for its jumbos, rhinos, deciduous forests, gurgling streams, and tea. The tea-growing areas in the district of Jalpaiguri, West Bengal, along with a small part of Coochbehar District, are popularly known as Dooars, which is bound by Bhutan and Darjeeling district in the northwest, Coochbehar district and Bangladesh in the south and Assam in the east. The Dooars-Terai tea is characterized by a bright, smooth, and full-bodied liquor that is a wee bit lighter than Assam tea.
Masala Chai, also known as Spiced Chai, is a popular beverage in India. It is made by adding a blend of spices like cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper to the Indian black tea. The possibilities of flavors are endless, and this versatility is what makes it so special. Masala Chai is spicy, strong, malty, earthy, and the list goes on. It is a go-to beverage for people in any mood.
Sikkim is a state in Northeast India, nestled amidst the scenic Himalayas. The first tea garden in the state was established in 1969, and today the region produces a delectable brew known for its light, flowery, golden-yellow color and delicate flavor. The Temi Tea Estate and the Bermiok tea garden produce some of the most sought-after Sikkim teas. Sikkim was declared fully organic in 2016, and the teas produced at Temi Tea Estate have been certified as 100% organic since 2008. Sikkim tea varieties include black, white, green, and Oolong tea.
Assam tea is grown on the rolling plains near the Brahmaputra river, and the unique climate, soil, and rainfall in this region give the tea its smooth, malty flavor. Assam is the world’s largest contiguous tea-growing area and is home to the Tocklai Experimental Station, which carries out research to ensure high-quality tea production. Assam tea is known for its brisk, strong, and malty character and is available in both Orthodox and CTC varieties. The second flush orthodox Assam teas are considered some of the finest teas in the world.
Nilgiri tea is grown in the Nilgiri Hills, which stretch across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala. The slightly fruity, minty flavor of Nilgiri tea is influenced by the region’s trees and spices. The balanced blend of flavor and body makes Nilgiri tea a perfect choice for blending. Nilgiri Orthodox tea is a registered Geographical Indication (GI) and is available in both Orthodox and CTC varieties. Nilgiri tea is a fragrant and exquisitely aromatic tea, with delicate floral notes and a creamy mouthfeel.
Kangra tea is grown in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra region, which is also known as the “Valley of Gods”. The region’s unique terrain, soil, and climate contribute to the tea’s distinct flavor. Kangra tea is exclusive and available in both green and black tea varieties. The first flush of Kangra tea has a fruity aroma and flavor, while the green tea has a delicate woody aroma. Kangra is one of India’s smallest tea regions, making its teas all the more exclusive.
Darjeeling tea, the world’s most coveted tea, is more than just a beverage. It is a symbol of India’s rich cultural heritage, steeped in history and mystique. Nestled in the great Himalayas in West Bengal, India, the tea’s quality is unmatched, thanks to the region’s locational climate, soil conditions, altitude, and meticulous processing. In this article, we explore the mystique of Darjeeling tea, from the field to the cup.