In the UK during lockdown, people have turning their attention to the little luxuries such as single estate teas. Having lived in Holland, Bermuda and America, I did tend to drink more coffee, but in the last year I’ve rediscovered the benefits of making tea my go to choice for a hot drink when Tea India caught my eye with their selection of single estate teas.
In case you are not aware, “Single estate tea” is any tea originating from one single tea property, plantation or garden. What this means is, that the mix of soil and climate in the region in which the tea is grown contributes to it’s quality and flavour, which can vary year on year as you would expect with fine wine!
Assam Is a strong and malty single estate tea that hails from the Margherita tea gardens on the low-lying plains of the Brahmaputra River delta in north eastern India. This tea is 100% Assam black tea and is certified by the Rain Forest Alliance, which fights deforestation whilst at the same time improves the livelihoods of farmers and forest communities, and promotes their human rights.
Tasting notes: Being grown at low levels gives this Assam tea a full-bodied, malty taste, with caramel notes and a lovely deep coloured liquor. If you are looking to explore teas then Assam is a great place to start because Assam was traditionally blended other teas to create what we call Breakfast Tea and even Earl Grey. Assam’s full bodied flavour stands up well to the addition milk and sugar.
Nilgiri, also known as Blue Mountain Tea, is a black tea grown high in the Nilgiri hills in the most southern part of India. Sourced from the Craigmore tea garden nestled at an elevation of 5,500 feet. Historically, this tea has been predominantly used for blending, however this tea is delicious is its own right and gaining popularity.
Tasting notes: Dark, aromatic and fragrant qualities attributed to its climatic growing conditions. Whilst lighter than Assam, Nilgiri has fruity and floral notes and has an attractive amber colour with a slight nutty aftertaste. Nilgiri is sweeter than other teas but you can add milk and sugar if you wish.
Darjeeling is grown on the foothills of the Himalayas and frequently referred to as the champagne of teas. Sourced from the Badamtam tea garden, only a small amount of this medium bodied and highly aromatic tea is grown each year.
Tasting notes: My wife’s favourite tea it has a light citrus flavour and is delicious with or without milk.
Kashmiri Kahwa – A traditional drink from the Kashmir region of India. Kahwa is an aromatic green tea blended with cinnamon and rose petals for a hint of sweetness.
Tasting notes: Strong, warming scent of cloves and cardamom. The rose flavour counteracts some of the bitterness of the green tea.
Sustainability and Community Projects
It’s worth noting that all of the teas are in biodegradable teabags made of a plant-based material called PLA. PLA is derived from wood pulp and vegetable starch, is non-GMO, and is sustainably sourced. It is industrially compostable, meaning the teabag can be put in your food waste or garden waste bins for the council to compost. The foil pouch used to keep the tea bags fresh inside the carton is also biodegradable and can be put in your council food waste bin.
In addition to taking steps to be more environmentally conscious, Tea India also looks to give back to the communities in which the tea is grown, collaborating with a project assisted by Action Village India to support 900 girls in rural Indian communities to continue their secondary education.
It is important when making tea to start with boiling water to help release all of the aromas from the tea. A super study of three UK-real world surveys commissioned in 2019, 2020 and 2021 by the UK Tea and Infusions Association https://www.tea.co.uk/ reveals that 43% of 18–24-year-olds say that the pandemic and various lockdown living has encouraged them to drink more tea, with 42% saying they expect to drink more in future. In comparison, separate research by Sheffield University found that alcohol consumption during the 2020 lockdown actually fell in all adult age groups.
Black tea was the go-to cuppa this year for 6 in 10 16–29-year-olds – up from 4 in 10 during 2019. And intakes, too, appear to have risen by an extra cup with half of young adults now drinking three or more servings a day compared with 2019 when the average was just three daily servings. A great source of information about the health benefits of tea drinking can be found on TAP.
Tea India-Single Estate Tea Review by Sophie Ashton