BENGALURU: There’s something so rejuvenating about infused teas.The best part about it is the rich aroma of the floral notes, which instantly lifts the senses and relaxes me after a tiring day,” feels 25-year-old marketing professional Rajashri Kar, who is among the newest fans of flower-infused tea. Despite masala chai and ginger tea being the traditional forms, various kinds have sprung up in the market and now, more and more tea lovers are actually experimenting with fruit and flower infused teas. “The infusions started trending because of its health benefits and the varieties it has to offer,” says Rayomund Pardiwalla, Executive Chef, Gokulam Grand Hotel and Spa, Bangalore.
Flowery and fruity tea blends have been around for a very long time, with some of the oldest being Jasmine Tea from China and Earl Grey Tea, which was created accidentally, as it is said, by Indians during a shipment of tea to England in the early 19th century. It dates back, just like regular tea, to ancient China. Egypt too, has a history when it comes to herbal infusions used for healing, particularly chamomile tea. “There are teas which are beneficial in ailments like cough and cold, Alzheimer’s, blood pressure regulation, skin regeneration etc. It is because of Catechins and theanine present in tea and other elements that come with the herb or flower it’s blended with,” says Smita Agrawal, tea sommelier and founder of Unchi Wali Chai by The Shef Society.
When hot water is infused with flavours from steeping leaves, fruits, herbs, barks, roots or seeds, they become aromatic infusions, and some of the types are known for being caffeine-free. “Tea blends, be it flowery, fruity, spicy or wellness focused, can be of two kinds – Herbal or tisanes, which are blends without any tea in it and hence, are zero on caffeine, and flower and fruit infusions with tea, which would contain caffeine and its amount would depend on the tea blended (white, green, oolong, black or Pu-erh),” Agrawal explains. Jasmine tea, for instance, is made by mixing tender jasmine blossoms with tea leaves until the aroma seeps into the latter. “Being the second largest consumed drink in the world, hot tea will still remain in the heart of individuals. Herbal teas and fruit infusions are picking popularity amongst millennials and health-conscious individuals,” says Razi Khan, a tea sommelier.
Herbal tea was always well-known in India, mostly as a home remedy for everyday ailments – lemon-honey tea for relief from sore throat, for instance, or tea infused with rose petals, tulsi, etc. The trend seems to have caught on in the past decade or so, as it has wormed its way in slowly, but surely. To keep up with the competition in the market, cafes in Bengaluru are coming up with interesting concepts. “I think a lot of cafes are now serving herbal tea by the pot, so that patrons can enjoy their tea without interruptions. I’ve also seen cafes that offer a wide range of tea selections, starting from Rooibos to Green Apple,” says Ranjani Rao, cookbook author and co-founder of Tadka Pasta.
To get in the mood, tea boutiques, appreciation workshops and tea pairings are organised in the city every now and then. Agrawal’s Shef Society conducts Unchi Wali Chai sessions every month, where they take enthusiasts on experiences based on the theme and concept. Tea tastings, Japanese and Chinese Tea ceremonies, and other unique events are held for an exclusive group of people.
Flavours in trend
Fruit: Kiwi,cranberry, pomegranate, raspberries, passion fruit
Flowers:Gomphrena, Butterfly Pea, Rose,
Herbs: Rooibos,Basil, Sage, Lemon verbena, Rosemary