Today is International Tea Day, started in 2020 to nudge the industry towards greater sustainability and find ways to increase per capita consumption in tea-producing countries, among other objectives. India, surprising as it may sound, doesn’t figure in the list of Top 10 tea-drinking countries. A few years ago, we were not even in the Top 20—and I am not sure we have caught up yet.
Industry folks say that if we can increase per capita consumption by one cup a day, we would be able to tackle the glut in production and balance demand and supply. And if we demand better tea, we could incentivise quality and ensure good prices for farmers. Small steps.
So I continue with what seems to be my Tea Day theme, to urge you to drink that extra cup. To help you along, I have put together a list of teas to add to your collection so that your extra cup can also be a little special.
• A tippy and well-rolled Assam black tea for its earthy aroma and the rich red liquor that allows itself to be stained by a dash of milk. The Assam whole leaf black tea is simply—pardon the cliche—one of life’s little pleasures.
• A Moroccan mint tea, which can be marvellously refreshing as a post-lunch cup, though I catch myself reaching for it late evening. I don’t know why it’s not more ubiquitous, because it’s the kind of tea we will greatly enjoy.
• The autumn black tea from Darjeeling, because no matter what everyone says, I think this is the finest from these hills— and still an undiscovered, delicious secret.
• A white tea, especially a Bai Mudan, to drink alone. A pot to make and enjoy solitude with. I find it so sophisticated and refined that it banishes all clutter from the mind. If one is to be known by the company of tea, then one would do well to choose this tea.
• The hojicha, because I love the fact that the twigs are not wasted and have been added to green tea and roasted and gone on to make such a delicious beverage. It’s nutty, toasty, and, if you haven’t tried it yet, you are missing something.
• An oolong, because once you have experienced one, you will find it difficult to go back to what you have always chugged. They display exceptional craft and skill…a work of art, no less.
• A wild tea, for its ancient woodiness, earthiness, and grounding energy. I think of them as the tree-hugger special.
• Kahwa to warm the soul. It must be the saffron in it that turns the tea into a cup of sunshine, with that lifting aroma. It’s an indulgent cup, and we all need a bit of that every now and then, don’t we?
And to end the list, I’ll say, make a little room for anything new that comes your way. Today, I learnt of a pu’er tea mixed with herbs that has the aroma of sticky rice. I hope to drink it one day. Until then, I am sure, there’s another tea around the corner ready to delight and surprise.
Aravinda Anantharaman is a Bengaluru-based tea blogger and writer who reports on the tea industry. @AravindaAnanth1 on Twitter.