Back from India - thoughts on tea (and a nice teahouse)


Learn about tea-related establishments open across the world.

Back from India - thoughts on tea (and a nice teahouse)

Postby Jayaratna » Jul 27th, '09, 09:36

Dear all,

I've been away a couple of weeks for my annual India trip. I thought I can share some thoughts related to tea and travelling in those countries.

In fact it is the first time I really think about it: I am more into Chinese greens, so I didn't care much about tea while travelling. I used to feel I have to go back home (or to China) for good tea...

This time I've been to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) too, but all the time I noticed that the average tea I drank (for breakfast, most of the times) was not at all bad.

I still have difficulties in describing the situation in Ceylon, I have not been travelling the coasts, and the inner side of the island is somewhat less developed. So you don't find big cities and big coffee chains, even if the average tea you get when you ask for black tea (always do so! otherwise you get chai tea = tea leaves boiled in little water with lots of boiled milk and sugar). Buying tea, though, seems to be difficult. I only got prepacked tea in Colombo, which looks a lot like a touristy souvenir (I have not tasted it yet): I have to say that on Saturdays afternoons, many tea shops were closed (I was told they open on Mondays). My idea is that the real good stuff is to be got directly from plantations, otherwise all is kept for exporting or blending.

In India, mainly in the biggest cities, there are two chains which are Barista http://www.barista.co.in/ and Coffee Day http://www.cafecoffeeday.com/; while on one hand they try to prepare good expressoes and the like (failing to reach the Italian standard), if you ask for Darjeeling you get very good quality teabags (cotton bag, almost all whole leaves). As so, usually the problem is with plastic or paper cups and water temperature falling quickly.

To keep up with such a (relatively) high quality average tea, real tea houses have to be very wise in targeting their offer. I have visited Infinitea in Bangalore (2, Shah Sultan Complex, Cunningham Road, Bangalore 560 052; 0091 80 41148810/8428). The place is suited for the Indian and foreign 'fashionable' bar and lounge crowds, with posters on the walls and drinks mimicking cocktails. (A point about Bangalore and Karnataka - Bangalore's state - in general is that they have a very conservative government board and they don't allow people to drink after 11 pm. In fact no bar or restaurant is open after 11, and this idea about tea-based alchool-free cocktails is really nice: infact here they made a poster in which you read 'drink (tea) and drive'.)

Image
Image

But when it comes to tea the thing gets serious. The list has black, oolong and green teas, almost all coming from their 50 years old plantation in Darjeeling (they have some Nilgiri too, but these come from the South and are not from their plantation). The staff is very very kind and helpful, without being overly gentle, which sometimes happens.

Image

I tried one of their oolongs (50% oxidized, no roasting at all), and one of their greens. The oolong was my favourite, but, probably because they are from the same plantation, the 'basic' of these teas tastes the same after all. Really good tea experience.

Image

They made some 50 grs packs for me (usually they seal 100 grs packs). I learned from Gauravs, the owner, that they are starting an e-shop, but their website http://www.infinitea.in/ is still in progress. They should be mailing in India only, first, and starting selling abroad later.

I wish we had something similar here in Venice!
User avatar
Jayaratna
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Nov 11th, '
Location: India

Re: Back from India - thoughts on tea (and a nice teahouse)

Postby geeber1 » Jul 27th, '09, 11:31

Thanks for the review/update Jayaratna! I would have thought that there would be black tea everywhere in India. Interesting that they save so much back for exporting - guess it's good for the government. :D

Nilgiri teas are my favorites - interesting again that there wasn't much tea available from other districts.
User avatar
geeber1
 
Posts: 1675
Joined: Jun 17th, '
Location: Oregon

Re: Back from India - thoughts on tea (and a nice teahouse)

Postby Salsero » Jul 27th, '09, 11:34

Thanks for the great post and travelogue!
User avatar
Salsero
 
Posts: 5214
Joined: Dec 21st, '
Location: Gainesville, Florida

Re: Back from India - thoughts on tea (and a nice teahouse)

Postby Victoria » Jul 27th, '09, 16:00

Wow, thank you for your post. Most interesting! I liked the tea poster and that Darjeeling Gold sounds pretty good to me. Glad you found a good place at last.
Hard to believe the people in gerneral are not drinking their own export!

Like going to Columbia and only finding Sanka.
User avatar
Victoria
 
Posts: 8186
Joined: Jan 8th, '0
Location: Southern CA

Re: Back from India - thoughts on tea (and a nice teahouse)

Postby Dreamer » Jul 27th, '09, 16:13

Thanks so much for sharing such an interesting tea trip report!
Like others, I would have never guessed that good tea would be so hard to find in a tea producing region.

Thanks again,
Dreamer
Dreamer
 
Posts: 501
Joined: Jan 31st, '
Location: midwest, Sanibel wannabe

Re: Back from India - thoughts on tea (and a nice teahouse)

Postby Herb_Master » Jul 27th, '09, 18:11

Thanks for a nice report, it makes interesting reading. Perhaps you will keep usposted when the infintea site goes international!
User avatar
Herb_Master
 
Posts: 1808
Joined: Jun 4th, '0
Location: Stockport, England

Re: Back from India - thoughts on tea (and a nice teahouse)

Postby Chip » Jul 27th, '09, 18:13

The TeaMap keeps expanding. :D

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I am sure most of us will never make it to India, so your first hand experiences might be as close as we get.
User avatar
Chip
Mod/Admin
 
Posts: 22289
Joined: Apr 22nd, '
Location: Back in the TeaCave atop Mt. Fuji

Re: Back from India - thoughts on tea (and a nice teahouse)

Postby Jayaratna » Jul 29th, '09, 09:06

Thaks everyone for your interest.

Chip wrote:I am sure most of us will never make it to India, so your first hand experiences might be as close as we get.


Chip, as for tea the US are closer to Japan and China, so that's the place to go!

Herb_Master wrote:Perhaps you will keep usposted when the infintea site goes international!


I'm keeping good watch, Herb Master. They don't look very efficient with their website, thiugh.

Dreamer wrote:Like others, I would have never guessed that good tea would be so hard to find in a tea producing region.


Dreamer, as for Ceylon, it may be surprising, but one has to keep in mind that foreigners go there for holidays rather than for buying tea, and most of them are not tea experts. So they sell things that are good for taking home as a present for friends and relatives. Unless you're interested in tea, i.e. you go and visit plantations.


A
User avatar
Jayaratna
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Nov 11th, '
Location: India

Re: Back from India - thoughts on tea (and a nice teahouse)

Postby Jayaratna » Aug 31st, '09, 12:19

Hi all,

just to let you know that http://www.Infinitea.in website is working now. I can't understand if they are selling overseas yet.
User avatar
Jayaratna
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Nov 11th, '
Location: India


Instant Messenger

Permissions
You cannot post new topics
You cannot reply to topics
You cannot edit your posts
You cannot delete your posts
You cannot post attachments
Navigation