Until now, if I have gifted tea, it’s by thrusting a packet into a friend’s hands with a “You must try this tea”. I used to do that with books earlier. With festivals around the corner, I have been looking at tea in a way I never have before. As a gift in these stressful times, it makes for a welcome and thoughtful choice. It’s a gift that says, here, this is for you to pause and forget about the anxieties swirling around us. Yes, I do think tea as a gift has much going for it.
For me, the biggest choice is between the packaging and the tea. Sometimes, the boxes are gorgeous but the teas are just okay. Sometimes, the teas are superlative and the packaging is simple and charming but not uber sophisticated. I tend to favour good tea over packaging but happily enough, there’s plenty that strikes a good balance between appearance and taste. Here are a few recommendations for gifting teas this festive season.
If you are looking for gifts that spell Diwali, Teabox has a range. With festive packaging, each box holds an assortment of exotic and interesting tea blends to choose from. The festive blends, like saffron rose chai or a paan rose green, are unusual but add to the festivities. Teacupsfull has a great selection of gifts in elegant packaging and a choice that ranges from classic Darjeelings and Assams to detox and wellness teas.
For those who prefer more traditional flavours, Golden Tips has a range that comes in beautiful brocade bags. They come in singles and in combination packs, offering a choice of familiar teas, like Earl Grey, Masala Chai and green tea blends.
A single-estate tea would be a great addition to a tea lover’s collection. Some tea estates, like Makaibari, Gopaldhara and the Goodricke group (with its portfolio of storied estates like Castleton, Thurbo and Badamtam), offer gift packs.
One of my favourites comes from the Dharmsala Tea Company in Kangra. In a nice touch, the tins depict miniature pahari painting. I do enjoy their kahwa blend and find that the presence of saffron in this tea makes it both festive and eminently gift-worthy. Simple but elegant.
Estates in the Nilgiris, like Havukal, Chamraj, Korakundah and Glendale, offer their limited-edition teas in special packets or tea chests that a connoisseur would appreciate. Or you could try wild tea, like the smoked black tea from Forest Pick in Manipur.
And of course, if selecting a tea is impossible, tea accessories make for a great gift too. Leave aside tea makers, mugs and kettles. Instead, consider choosing tea ware from different tea-making rituals, like the gong fu essentials set from Ketlee or a matcha brewing kit from Udyan, a samovar (available on Kashmir Box), or even a kitschy Indian kettle from Jaypore. Like a good cup of tea, these too make for perfect conversation starters.
Tea Nanny is a weekly series steeped in the world of tea. Aravinda Anantharaman is a Bengaluru-based tea blogger and writer who reports on the tea industry.