Black Tea in Hydrabad, India


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Black Tea in Hydrabad, India

Postby indiestyle » May 16th, '10, 18:19

I was recently in Hydrabad, India for about 3 weeks. I had a type of tea there at people's houses, hotels, and restaurants that all tasted the same, and it was really good. It was a black tea, and I am guessing somewhere around an Assam, that they mixed with standard milk and sugar. One lady I was staying with let me smell it, and I had never smelled anything like it before. It looked also like Assam, with very small little coiled black leaves. With the milk and sugar, the tea looked reddish.However, when I inquired about what tea it was, everyone gave me the same answer. "Tea." They didn't tell me anything more. They just called it "tea" like there wasn't any type of tea other than tea. I asked if I could buy some and take it back to the US and they said they didn't do that. At the airport on the way home, I also tried to ask the clerks about the "local tea" and they said the same thing, that they didn't sell it.

I'm so confused. What kind of tea was this? I'm sure I'm able to order it from the USA right?

*I went and smelled/read up on about 120 teas at a local tea shop so far, and can't find it.
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Re: Black Tea in Hydrabad, India

Postby shah82 » May 16th, '10, 18:39

NIlgiri, house blend, as you might call it.

However, if you don't tell us what the dang tea tastes like, smells like, then there is nothing the crowd can do for you except sample lots of Nigiri, Assams, and Dooars.
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Re: Black Tea in Hydrabad, India

Postby aya_s » May 16th, '10, 20:20

Hm, it looks like the World Tea and Coffee Cup was held there a few years ago:

http://tcworldcup.com/history/2008b/

Perhaps you could contact some of the vendors associated with that event and ask them? A search in Google Maps also turned up several tea companies located in Hyderabad- perhaps they'd be willing to tell you too?
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Re: Black Tea in Hydrabad, India

Postby indiestyle » May 16th, '10, 20:37

Well when it was all said and done it had a milky cinnamon/cardamom chai taste. However, I watched them make the tea, and it was only the leaves, water, milk, and sugar.
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Re: Black Tea in Hydrabad, India

Postby omegapd » May 17th, '10, 06:13

Interesting. All I can tell you to help in your journey is that Wagh Bakri is supposed to be the number one seller in India. It is my favorite tea- a bold and malty CTC Assam. I can get it in the US at any Indian grocery store or it can be bought on-line, I'm sure.
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Re: Black Tea in Hydrabad, India

Postby aya_s » May 17th, '10, 14:54

When you say you watched them brew the tea and it was only leaves, do you mean the leaves were large enough to be recognizable, so it's not possible there were ground spices or something mixed in already?
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Re: Black Tea in Hydrabad, India

Postby rmisra9 » Jun 17th, '10, 09:58

Hi there.

I'm an Indian, in Hyderabad, so perhaps I might be able to help you! :)

First of all, the 'tea' you're referring to is Assam CTC, almost always. The ubiquitous tea shops use the stronger & cheaper tea dust. Nilgiri CTC is also popular, but Assam swamps the market.

Some pointers on Indian chai:

1. The spices are never premixed with the tea.
2. The spices used varies by weather and time of year. Freshly grated ginger is popular, and cardamom & cloves are strictly reserved for winter, since they are considered 'heating', and used sparingly. Pepper is rare.
3. The tea is 'cooked', not steeped, with milk. If you ask for 'Special' tea, it is cooked just in milk, no water.
4. Sugar, and lots of it.

A typical preperation might go like this:

Heat up water and milk in a pot, on low heat. It's important to start at low heat, otherwise the milk will burn. Once the mixture bubbles, it's safe to turn up the heat. Gather your ingedients, and chop your ginger. When the water and milk mixture reaches the point of steaming, add your sugar, spices and tea. Watch your pot carefully at this point since the milk mixture can quickly boil over, so usually this step is done at low heat. Turn up the heat, and your chai will immediately foam up. Turn off when the foam reaches its maximum height, usually to the point of overflowing. This is regarded as a sign that the tea is done. Some people like to swirl it around... go ahead. Filter out the tea leaves, and serve.

Enjoy!

This is the form of tea you'd probably encounter at an Indian home, piping hot. Hyderabadi tea cafes will serve you a uniquely Hyderabadi variety, called Irani Chai, which uses a reduced, almost condensed milk. Very nice, and very popular. It's best enjoyed in a roadside cafe, along with savoury - sweet Osmani biscuits, and perhaps a samosa or two!
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Re: Black Tea in Hydrabad, India

Postby Chip » Jun 17th, '10, 11:39

Thank you and welcome to TeaChat rmisra9. I hope you can visit us often! Great first post, very insightful.
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Re: Black Tea in Hydrabad, India

Postby sneakers » Jun 20th, '10, 21:24

rmisra9--

Welcome. :D As I drink mostly Indian tea, you're an asset to this forum.

I have an Indian-American client, an economist, who always serves me tea just that way. When I first started working for her, I thought I would find more specific varieties in her cupboard. But no, she just uses a generic Assam.

Really fine tea would get the flavor hidden by the additions anyway, just as in our flavored teas. But I'm pretty sure her spice mix is loaded with black pepper. It's hot as blazes.
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Re: Black Tea in Hydrabad, India

Postby rmisra9 » Jun 21st, '10, 03:55

@Sneakers: I totally agree. Indians view tea as a means to an end, ie, chai :)
If anything, its a way to flavour milk!
In my experience, every region has its own interpretation of what chai should be. The commonality, as I see it:

1. It must be strong enough to put hair on your chest.
2. Milk, and loads of sugar.
3. Served very hot.
4. Must be drunk several times a day.

Since people drink so much tea, and you need strong tea, it just makes sense to use CTC for this purpose. Also, since the leaves must be cooked, tea bags just don't work. I've had Cylon long leaf based chai (my sis-in-law is Sri Lankan), and boy.. my mom and I gagged on what felt like dishwater. We smiled politely, but snuck out and bought some Assam CTC :)

As for the spices, it really depends on the region. Fresh ginger is a staple. Green cardamom is popular, but never the black. They are believed to have opposite effects in Ayurveda. I can't vouch for the pepper, since I haven't encountered it in the north, where I'm from, or in Hyderabad, where the Irani chai is more popular.
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