India has always been known for its diversity- in culture, in heritage and, in languages spoken every few kilometers. History speaks of battles that have been fought, invaders that have come and gone- only to establish and own India. Instead, every foreign influence has left the country poorer in assets, but so much richer in culture, in food and in every walk of like. Present day India, has no one religion, language or cuisine. Even the local chai varies vastly in variety even within the same state. Based on topography, availability of local spices and herbs and even palette- there is a Chai for every Indian out there.
Let’s take you through some classic and some unique ones
Probably the most popular Chai in the country, masala in its first sip, wraps the drinker i the comfort of whole spices giving the throat a much needed relief. These whole spices are usually ginger, cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon, but this combination too varies from place to place. Some people are known to add black pepper kernels or even jaggery to this tea.
It is the one drink, that has customers, saying “Aaah”, much like the Italians, as they take a first sip of their aperitif. The heart and soul of the country, India truly runs on this chai
A small region so famous , it has its own Geographical Index. All teas from Darjeeling are unique in its flavor because of the unique topography of the land, that lends the tea a distinct flavour- which connoisseurs around the world go crazy for. Grown over three seasons or flushes- each flush of Darjeeling tea, has its own notes, color and also, fans. While this is mostly famous in the East for its proximity to Darjeeling- this tea is renowned around the world for the quality it delivers over the years. Even the Queen of England cannot drink anything else!
North east is known for its chilly winters. To keep warm, the locals often cut up chillies and put it in their boiling tea. A sip of that, makes ZING go right to the head and wakes you up like nothing else.
Noon Chai and Kashmiri Kahwa
Beautiful, thick, creamy, buttery pink tea is what truly represents the noon cha. Smelling of the comfort of cardamom,it has a nutty crunch that is hard to come by in any other tea. That too in a green tea, is really unheard of. In truly Kashmiri style, it is poured from a samovar . The salty taste of the tea, gives it this name. Just like the Kashmiri Kahwa, which is a blend of almonds and saffron- the caffeine content of teas from this region is very very low.
Unique to cold mountain areas like leh and originally from Tibet, butter tea, is a tea churned with butter and salt in a special vehicle. It is a way of life for the locals. Something they wake up to and entertain with. A unique ritual surrounding this tea drinking experience is that the warm people of the hills can never see a guest’s cup empty- if you drink it all up, they will fill it right back up. So leave a little at the bottom when you’re done, I’d say 🙂