From time immemorial, the tea has been regarded as a rich man’s drink. It is this very reason that the evolution of High-Tea in hotels has come about. In our country, ‘Chai’ with its tradition of swirling in milk, masala and tea is lauded all across the world and is still one of the most popular beverages abroad and in the county. Luxury teas, however, are not just about the taste of the tea alone but also the experience of drinking the tea in itself.
A strong ceramic cup, tea leaves dancing at the bottom as aroma spills out from the brew is a sight to behold in itself. Take a moment to inhale the goodness, a little whiff, and like the variation of a popular saying goes, ‘There’s many a sip, twix the cup and lip’; take every sip slowly as one would when admiring beauty.
How to determine the quality of Tea
When it comes to tea, the aroma of the tea leaves alone will tell you how premium it is in quality. Once brewed, the tea is extremely fragrant and naturally aromatic. If that is not viable, checking the quality of tea is easy with these tips:
- Prices might not always be a deterrent but packaging surely can be. High-quality tea does not come in pop-like packaging but is rather mellow. When it comes to tea, you can judge by its cover.
- Large, unbroken leaves are a cause of concern. High-quality tea is packed with utmost care including breaks in leaves for a quicker brew. No quality tea comes in leaves too large as smaller leaves dissolve faster, creating the perfect sensation one needs while taking in the beverage.
- Overly commercialised tea is a no-no. High-quality tea doesn’t need the marketing and is sometimes the most low-key products on the shelf.
- This is a given, but don’t fail to buy from a reputed seller. Also, opt for separate outlets instead of buying at malls or shopping areas. In fact, on a visit to Sri Lanka, it is frowned upon to not have stepped into a Basilur tea store at least once per visit!
- Look at the storage. Quality tea leaves are kept in an air-tight container, away from sunlight in a cool, dry place.
Best Countries with Tea (In order of rankings)
With a minty base, infused with sugar and foam on top, Moroccan tea is best drunk on a tall glass, traditionally served to guests three times. Each time it is stronger than the previous brew. Sometimes, pellets of green Chinese gunpowder and winter lemon verbena are added for extra flavour.
2 Sri Lanka
Our neighbour to the South owns some of the world’s finest tea plantations in the towns of Kandy, Dimbula and Nuwara Eliya, with more flavour originating in higher altitudes. While there, don’t forget to visit The Ceylon Tea Museum in Kandy.
One of the world’s biggest producers and consumers of tea and the origin of, ‘Chai’, India is the only country which has countless recipes for tea drinks. One can tour or stay on plantations in iconic tea destinations like Darjeeling, surrounded by Himalayan peaks.
One of the cradles of civilisation and the motherland of tea, elegant tea houses cover the country. From affordable to expensive teas, they come in all colours, including yellow, green, black or red. The China National Tea Museum in Hangzhou is a must visit!
Most expensive teas in the World
- Da Hong Pao a.k.a the Big Red Robe – This heavily oxidized Oolong tea from the Wuyi mountains of China’s Fujian province costs 1.2 million in dollars for 1 kg. In fact, this tea is so highly revered that the tea bushes that have been in harvest cycles since the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD) are protected by armed guards! It is, however, not protected from duplication though so one can find cheaper varieties in the market at more affordable rates.
- Another tea from the Wuyi Mountains of China is the vintage brand Narcissus Wuyi Oolong. Priced at almost 6,500 dollars per kilogram this is one of the oldest and longest standing luxury teas in the world.
- Literally encrusted with 280 precious diamonds, the PG Tips Diamond Tea Bag is priced at 15,000 dollars per bag! The ultimate royalty tea, the product is available in only one store in the whole world – Harrod’s tea store in London.
- After the diamond comes the gold! Yellow Gold Tea Buds are made from budding leaves clipped from the plant once a year and dusted with real gold chips. Priced at 3000 dollars per kilogram, this gold tea has some amazing body healing properties that one can’t help but feel like every sip was worth the pennies!