Guess what? Tea remains the second most widely consumed beverage after water. And in case you feel guilty for consuming all those endless cuppas at work – don't worry. Common facts on tea indicate it is rich in antioxidants, can help shield our immune systems, is capable of stopping infections, and can even help us shed some pounds!
"Research shows that tea contains a rarely occurring amino acid called L-theanine that stimulates your alpha brain waves. Alpha brain waves are associated with a relaxed but alert mental state. A high level of L-theanine may improve the ability to focus attention as it improves the attention-related alpha activity" says a spokesperson of the Lipton Institute of Tea.
But why stick to the same boring flavour when there is a world of exotic teas (that can be enjoyed hot or cold) just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. So get set to go on a beverage binge as we showcase some of the most exotic teas from around the globe.
Darjeeling tea is exquisite and delicately flavoured, and enjoys the distinction of being one of the finest teas in the world. Experts like to call it the champagne of teas! "First flush teas are light and aromatic, while the second flush produces tea with a bit more bite. The third or autumn flush gives a tea that is lesser in quality." Says Jeetesh Kaprani, Food and Beverage Manager, Trident Hotel, Mumbai. So why not take advantage of its unique flavour by doing something unusual…Next time you have the girls over or plan to entertain friends, dazzle them with a sophisticated tea cooler. In summer, try simple iced tea, with a twang of lime and hint of mint. It's both sweet and tart at the same time. The lime juice will be much better flavoured if freshly squeezed.
Lime mint Iced Tea
1 quart water, boiling
4 Darjeeling tea bags
1 3/4 cups fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
Mix tea bags, mint and sugar in hot water, and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the tea bags and mint leaves. Chill and add lime juice before serving.
Another classic Indian tea that enjoys prominence across the world. "The flavour is very strong and it is primarily a black tea." Explains a chef at The Grand Hyatt, Mumbai. This rich, full-bodied tea actually has a malty flavour and is best enjoyed as a breakfast tea. Assam tea revolutionized tea drinking habits in the 19th century since the tea, produced from a different variety of the tea plant, yielded a different kind of tea.
Tired of drinking tea with plain old milk and sugar? Assam tea lends itself to be blended with spices especially cardamom and cloves. You can even add cinnamon and ginger if you are feeling adventurous or why not splurge and elevate your humble Assam ‘chai' into a chocoholics dream?
Mocha Chai Latte
2 tablespoons loose-leaf Assam tea
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup whole milk or 1/4 cup unsweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon cocoa
Whipped cream (optional)
Cocoa for dusting
Steep the tea in the water for about 5 minutes. Add the milk, spices, and cocoa and simmer over low heat about 2 or 3 minutes more. Pre warm two mugs. Pour in your mocha chai, add a dollop of whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa, if you like, and enjoy. Serve immediately.
Orange Pekoe Tea
Another popular Indian Tea that gets its name from the size of its tea leaf. When tea is harvested by hand, what is generally picked are the bud at the end of the stem (an unopened leaf) and the next two leaves inward from that bud. The first leaf is the youngest and is called the "pekoe" leaf (pronounced "peck-o"). The second leaf from the bud is the "orange pekoe" leaf.
""We use tea like Orange Pekoe in many of our recipes because it is rich in antioxidants. For example we have a Tiramisu that is prepared by soaking the sponge in tea instead of liquor and we have named it Tearamisu" says Chef Dean, Corporate Chef, Lite Bite Foods Pvt. Ltd.
Infuse an entire 750ml bottle of vodka with 6 Orange Pekoe teabags, by steeping the tea bags for 4 to 6 hours or overnight. You may wish to pour the vodka into a jar or container that will allow you to easily remove the teabags after steeping. (If you want to use a lesser amount of vodka, pour 1/3 of the bottle of vodka into in a jar or with two teabags)
Swirl the jar occasionally: You will see the infusion happening.
If you want to use loose tea, the equivalent is one teaspoon of tea for each teabag.
Black Strawberry Cream Tea
Black tea infused with mellow flavours of strawberry, this infusion has a subtle sour flavour. As the name suggests, the Black Strawberry Cream Tea lends a creamy texture to the palate, perfectly complementing the berry flavour. On its own without anything added to it, this tea seems to work best as an iced tea, but given the strong flavour of this brew, a splash of milk and a teaspoon of sugar (or other sweetener) would make an ideal cup of hot tea to accompany a good dessert. "Black Strawberry Cream tea is ideally served as an ice tea though can also be poured hot, as an accompaniment with desserts." Says culinary expert, Karen Anand.
Iced strawberry Cream tea
Cold Milk – 90 ml
Sugar syrup – 45 ml
Honey – 15 ml
Black Strawberry cream tea – 200 ml
With a rejuvenating fragrance and subtle taste, Chamomile Tea is perfect infusion to unwind after a tiresome day. Made with the dried leaves and petals of the Camomile plant, and composed of herbs, this tea too is full of health benefits. The best way to enjoy Chamomile is brewing a dry crushed leaf in a muslin cloth over a few minutes and serving it with honey. Chamomile tea can also be flavoured with spices and fruits such as cinnamon, lime, or orange.
4 cups boiling water
5 tea bags (chamomile or Jasmine)
2 cups sliced fresh fruit *
2 tablespoons sugar (avoid if possible)
2 cups white grape juice
In a teapot, pour boiling water over Lipton Yellow Label Tea bags; cover and brew for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and allow it to cool. In large pitcher, combine fruit with sugar (if need be). Pour tea over fruit; stir in the juice. Serve in ice filled glasses. Makes 6 10-oz. servings.
* Use any combination of apples, peaches, pineapple, oranges or strawberries.