On Tea

“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.”

 William Ewart Gladstone

While coffee may be a chic beverage, tea has been my poison for several years now. Second Flush Darjeeling Black only, please. I was never hooked to stimulants. Even on the trip to Darjeeling (my third in life) around the late 1980s, when I first tasted Darjeeling tea at a roadside tea stall, I did not get hooked. The unique muscatel flavour stayed with me, causing an imprint somewhere in the neurons of my brain.

It was not until maybe a decade later, after my tryst with dialysis, that the moment came back to me. Mark Tully, the BBC correspondent who lived in India for decades, wrote a column in a newspaper on Darjeeling. He wrote poetically about relishing his morning cuppa. That article awoken the sleeping neuron and brought back that morning when I first tasted that divine brew.

I could almost feel the frosty morning air on my cheek. A delightful, light drizzle made the mood just right for the hot cups of tea the roadside tea stall lady served us. One sip was all it took. I was hooked for life.

After reading that article, I had to have it right away. I drove to the neighbourhood tea shop where they sold the leaves and not the beverage. I asked for Darjeeling tea. He thrust a packet of Lopchu Darjeeling Tea in my hands. I came back home and dutifully carried out the instructions on the pack. I took a sip. Good. But not quite there. 

I did not have a tea-sommelier's tongue. But I could make out that this was not it. It is amazing how the brain stores information on taste and smell for years and is able to compare and rule yay or nay even with one minuscule sip.

From then, started my quest for the perfect Darjeeling tea. My point of comparison was only my memory of that morning in Darjeeling.

After trying several other brands one after another, I finally chanced upon Golden Tips' Darjeeling Tea. That was the closest I could get. This was in the late 2000s. I stuck to that for a few years. Golden Tips evolved into the brand Vahdam. Then Teabox stormed the Indian tea world. They had a young approach to tea. From the website to the ordering process to the delivery, the experience was classy. So was their tea.

Once these two players came on the scene, I started getting exposed to the various kinds of tea. Green, black, oolong, the various flushes, Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiris, Ceylon and so on. I tried several types. I settled on the Second Flush Darjeeling Black as my go-to drink. Not surprisingly, that is the most common favourite of tea drinkers around the world.

I have got into a routine with my tea. Around 6 AM, 11 AM and 3 PM, every day, I pour out about 180 ml of filtered water into an electric kettle. While the water comes to a boil, I measure out 1.25 teaspoons of the Second Flush Darjeeling tea leaves into my infuser. After the water boils, I start a one minute timer to allow it to cool to about 85-90 degrees centigrade. I then pour the water into the cup with the infuser and allow the tea to steep for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Once the timer goes off, I remove the infuser, add 1.25 teaspoons of sugar, mix it and then let the tea do its magic!


Anonymous said…
Checkout sustainkart.com
They have lots of varieties of tea.