The basic morning cuppa has been infused with many changes over the recent years. At the
Tea and Food Festival organised this month in Delhi, there were more than 250 types of teas available under one roof. Entrepreneur Amit Dutta, who hosted the festival, says, “Our aim was to bring the much-loved beverage in original and contemporary form to the audience. From mind-boggling varieties to an exploration of diverse tea cultures, and new food pairings across an array of innovative flavours, the festival was a tribute to the humble chai.” The event, which hopes to go annual, will be headed to Chandigarh and Jaipur for its next leg.
Presented by Harvest Gold, the festival held tea workshops for consumers from brands such as Tea Monk, 24Seven, Divyajal, AO Smith, Goodtimes, GreenFit, Brewhouse, The Red Kettle, Tsa & Co, TE-A-ME, Namhah Tea, Chai Peeni Hai, Dharamsala Tea, Goodricke Tea, and more. The focus was on speciality teas, health benefits and the art of brewing. What wowed many attendees was the sheer range of the concoction—from the humble chai, to the elitist white tea, living room for favourites such as Oolong and Earl Grey, and the flavour of mountain warmth such as the Kashmiri Kahwa.
A lesser-known fact about the drink is that the character of the tea alters at the slightest change in humidity, altitude, weather, light and temperature, and thus it produces its own distinct flavour. From the delicate first flush tea to blending it with innovative ingredients, and the robust late bloom aromas—every tea lover has his or her own favourite. While some may frown at blending tea with dried fruit, flowers, herbs, and spices, there are those who enjoy the calming effect of roses, marigolds, apples, and strawberries, in their cup. The world of tea is constantly on the boil, literally. Here are some of the flavours that promise to refill countless tea cups this season.
As palates around the world shift to healthier alternatives, it’s tea such as rooibos with a distinct rum and honey flavour that is set to take centrestage. Free from alcohol, it is nonetheless enriched with a warm mix of cinnamon, apple, liquorice and star anise—perfect for balmy winter evenings.
The rising demand for plant-based foods and interest in all things vegan have opened opportunities for vegetables to inch their way into the morning cuppa. One can now find products as varied as tomato, potato, rosehip, apple, onion, basil, cinnamon, and passionflower taking a dip into the teapot.
Everything today is about added nutrients—so why leave tea behind? Traditional tea brands are increasingly promoting a holistic lifestyle with added vitamin C and superfoods such as turmeric, aromatic lemon verbena, basil and ginger. People are looking for ‘quick-fix’ solutions to wellbeing, and tea is one of the best options.
An import from Taiwan, cheese tea is set to go mainstream this year. It is basically green or black tea sipped through a generous dollop of cream cheese blended with cream or condensed milk. This concoction, definitely not for the purists, can be either sweet or slightly salty. Apparently, Meyer lemon and mascarpone is a hit in American shores where it is finding quite a few takers.
Ready to Drink
Just like instant coffee flooded the market at one point, it is now the age of instant tea. Available in sachets, it has everything you need in a tea, except of course, hot water.
Flavours such as red velvet cake, blueberry cheesecake, banana dulce are not just acquainted with desserts anymore. Believe it or faint, these are only a few of the dessert teas that are out there to bring your dinner experience to that perfect dreamy end.
Traditionally, bubble tea is made only with black tea, but to capture the Indian palate it has taken green tea and even the traditional milk tea in its stride. From tapioca pearls to juice bubbles and juice jellies, this is one new form of tea that is here to stay.