Indian Tea Types – Spiced Masala chai?


India is the second largest tea producer in the world, with 80% of the total production sold to the domestic market. It was during the days of the British colony where tea was planted at a large scale, leading India’s tea industry to where it is today.

In India, almost everyone starts their day with a steaming cup of morning tea, and not just out of habit, but also out of ritual. In many Indian households, milk is preferably added to tea as appose to just tea. Indian milk tea consists of black tea, milk, ginger, lemongrass, cardamom, and cinnamon, along with other spices. Each tea producing region in India has a different but perfect climate, so let us explore the tea culture of this great nation.


What is Indian Tea Culture?

History of Indian Tea Culture

Tea in India first appeared in the ancient texts of the Ramayana. According to legend, Lord Rama’s brother Lakshman was wounded in a battle with Ravana. A student, Hanuman was sent to bring “Sanjeevani Booti” (a plant found only in the Himalayas) and applied it on Lakshman’s wound, which then miraculously healed. Sanskrit scholars believe that “Sanjeevani Booti” was indeed tea.

Tea in India largely derives from British heritage. After British tea lovers arrived in colonial India, they found that India’s climate and latitude was very suitable for planting tea and subsequently began to plant Assam and Darjeeling, among other tea varieties. From then on, the British reliance on Chinese tea imports was solved.

Prior to India’s tea plantations, most of the tea in the world was grown and exported from China. Once tea harvests in India succeeded, tea exports from India to the UK increased dramatically.

Although the British were responsible for scaling India’s tea industry, that’s not to suggest that Indians weren’t strongly associated with tea prior. Tea has long been a part of Ayurvedic medicine, and spices and herbs have been used in India for centuries. However, the way tea is commercially produced and prepared has changed the way Indians drink tea.

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Across the vast expanse of India, where colors and spices dance, Indian Tea Culture is a tapestry of traditions. It’s a pilgrimage of the senses, from the masala chai’s warming embrace to the lofty mountains where Darjeeling whispers its secrets in the mist.


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The flavour of Indian Tea

Black tea is the most common type of tea in India, but in recent years, there has been a significant increase in demand for green tea and white tea in India. Indian teas include varieties such as Five Spice Indian Tea, strong black tea, and teas with fresh fruit flavors. Additionally, in recent years, India has also started producing white tea. The golden and brown leaves grown in the Assam region are often used to make refreshing breakfast teas, while Darjeeling white tea is highly cherished for its delicate flavor, making it perfect for evening consumption.

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Masala chai – The everyday life of Indian tea culture.

Tea, or “chai” in most of India’s 21 languages is an integral part of every Indian home and is a way of life for them. Unlike what we understand as drinking tea in a conventional form, Indians are known for drinking tea with added spices. Recipes for chai tea vary by region, ethnicity, town and household, but traditional ingredients often include strong spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and black pepper, milk, sugar and/or honey.

Chai wallahs are sold on almost every street corner of India. They use unfired pottery cups for milk tea, which can be crushed and recycled on the spot after drinking. From big cities to rural villages, the number of chai wallahs in India outweigh the number of Starbucks international locations with ease!

Indian tea culture where tea is consumed even during intensely hot summers

Why do Indians still drink hot tea in such hot and humid weather? They believe that heat can cure fever as hot drinks can trigger the cooling mechanism in the body. Tea is a part of Indian culture and remains the most popular beverage throughout the nation despite a break away from the British, and affordability of Indian spiced milk tea, even among the poor on roadside surely helps retain this.

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Regions of India where tea is grown

The three main tea regions of India are Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri. The Assam region is located in the northeastern region of India, in the lush and dense jungles at the foothills of the eastern Himalayas; The Darjeeling region is also located in the northeastern part of India, bordering the Qinghai-Tibet Himalayas, stretching between high ridges and deep valleys; Nilgiri is located in the mountains of India’s southernmost tea-growing region, planted in the densely forested Blue Mountains.

  • Assam – Indian Tea Culture

Assam is the largest tea-growing region in the world and produces between 50% and 75% of India’s total tea production. In 1815, when the tea-addicted British traded in colonial India, tea exported from China could not meet their growing demand. Therefore, when the British found that India’s Assam state was suitable for growing tea, a large number were later planted. Assam’s tropical climate is hot and humid, with plenty of rain, which makes an abundance of tea trees possible.

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  • Darjeeling – Indian Tea Culture

Darjeeling tea is known as the “champagne” of tea because the tea crop in Darjeeling differs in taste year to year, depending on the fluctuating weather and soil conditions, just as in the Champagne region of France. Darjeeling is located near Assam, and with the increase in number and size of tea gardens in Assam, tea is also planted in Darjeeling. But because Darjeeling’s rugged terrain makes the tea grown more precious, Darjeeling tea will always be in short supply. To date, Darjeeling accounts for only 1% of India’s total tea production.

  • Nilgiri – Indian Tea Culture

Tea tree seeds grown in Darjeeling were also sent to the Nilgiri Blue Mountains in the southern Indian state of Tamil for trial planting. The high-altitude geographical conditions of the Blue Mountains are similar to Darjeeling, but not as harsh as Darjeeling, and it has also become one of the important production areas in India. Also grown in Nilgiri are the most famous spices of chai: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pepper and vanilla.

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From the misty Darjeeling hills to the bustling streets of Mumbai, Indian tea culture is an aromatic journey through spice bazaars and serene plantations. It’s the earthy warmth of masala chai, the wisdom of ancient Ayurveda, and the legacy of chaiwalas who’ve brewed stories for generations.


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Indian tea culture makes black tea and milk tea part of daily life

A cup of tea is indispensable in the daily life of Indians. Whether it’s black tea or spiced chai, it’s a local favourite. ABoxTik selects local tea leaves from Taiwan, with a spanning variety of loose tea and triangular tea bag options. Welcome to ABoxTik’s official website to discover our range of Taiwanese tea.