February , 2020
Variety of Indian tea
16:47 pm

Aritra Mitra

In many Indian households, mornings are incomplete without the 'garam chai'. Over the years, organic tea, green tea, and herbal tea have made their way into Indian households along with the more traditional varieties. According to the data providing portal, Statista, “The consumption volume of tea in India was approximately one billion kgs during the fiscal year 2019. This was a slight increase from the previous fiscal year. Consumption of the beverage has increased consistently through the years.”

In the Indian tea market, orthodox and CTC are the two major varieties. Orthodox tea production follows a traditional style that includes plucking, withering, rolling, oxidation and drying. In case of CTC black tea, the tea leaves are passed through cylindrical rollers where the saw-edged blades cut, tear and curl the tea leaves into small pellets.

Apart from these two broad varieties, there are many region-specific tea varieties available in India.

Darjeeling tea – Darjeeling produces the world’s best aromatic tea.  Currently there are 87 operational tea gardens in the Darjeeling district covering an aggregated area of about 19,000 hectares. Apart from the orthodox variety, this region also produces green tea. According to doctors, Darjeeling tea provides essential antioxidants. It reduces the risk of cancer as it contains polyphenolic compounds that inhibit the growth of cancer in several ways and stop tumour development. Several researchers believe that certain bio-active compounds in Darjeeling tea, particularly L-theanine, play an active role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases.

Assam tea – Presently this region is one of the world’s largest tea producing belts,  producing more than 400 million kg of tea annually. In this region, more than 100 tea estates cover about 2,16,2000 hectares of land. Assam tea has a very firm hold in the domestic tea market. Most Indians prefer this variety because of its strong taste. Assam produces both orthodox and CTC varieties of tea. According to a 2010 article published in the journal ‘Molecular Aspects of Medicine’, flavonoids from either green or black tea prevent the build-up of plaque inside the arteries, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Niligiri tea - Plantations account for around 30% of tea production in the Nilgiri district but the vast majority of production is undertaken by small growers who mainly follow the CTC method of production. Due to growing competition from other countries forcing low prices for CTC tea, Nilgiri tea growers have also concentrated in organic production and orthodox methods to stand out in the global market. Researchers claim that this variety of tea reduces the LDL cholesterol level and takes care of the heart. It is also a low-calorie beverage that helps in reducing weight. It also contains polysaccharides that slow down the absorption of blood sugar and prove to be advantageous for diabetes patients.

Kangra tea – This variety is from the Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh. Available data states that as of May 2015, there are 5,900 tea gardens in the area covering about 2312 hectares of land. Although Kangra cultivates both black tea and green tea, black tea constitutes about 90% of its production. This variety has a reputation for preventing dental cavities.

Munnar tea - There are more than 50 tea estates in and around Munnar, in the state of Kerala. Tea gardens interspersed with fuel plantations and ‘sholas’ are one of the unique features of this area. Munnar orthodox tea is known for its distinctive clean and medium toned fragrance. Experts state that the tannins present in tea have an astringent effect, which help to sooth gastric illness and aid in digestion. Studies also reveal that it helps in muscle endurance.

Terai-Dooars tea - According to available data, there are 163 tea estates in Dooars covering an area of 67,760 hectares and producing around 114 million kg tea annually. Dooars accounts for 20% of tea cultivation area and 21% of tea production in north India.

Sikkim tea - The IMO Control Board of India has certified Sikkim tea as 100% organic. The Temi Tea Estate is the only government run tea garden that has earned an international reputation in organic tea. Oolong tea is a variety of organic tea grown by Temi Tea that helps in the reduction of chronic health conditions such as heart diseases, inflammatory disorders and high cholesterol levels and provide superior bone structure, robust skin and good dental health.


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