The finest drinks are had just as they are. The best whiskeys, the most luxurious wines, and the perfect teas are all crafted to deliver a delicate balance of flavours that take their tasters on a journey.
Just as the most exclusive coffees are meant to be consumed black, and great quality vodka is famous for its smoothness, whole leaf teas are also carefully crafted keeping the tea-drinkers in mind.
In essence, purity is a statement in quality. Connoisseurs will talk about the unravelling of flavours in that single cup. When it comes to loose-leaf black tea, this is of utmost significance.
Unlike CTC (granular) tea, Orthodox (whole leaf) black tea is prepared by a much more demanding process. The main difference is that in CTC processing, tea leaves are crushed into pulp and reformed into granular pellets, whereas in Orthodox tea processing, tea leaves are gently rolled to extract juices while maintaining their wholesomeness. This results in a tea which still retains its health benefits and nuanced flavour’s to give you the ultimate experience.
While you can always add in your milk and a hint of spices, good black tea is an experiential journey in itself. From the colours that emerge in your cup, to the moment its fragrance seeps into the air around, and the very first sip. The art of tea reaches the highest note at this point.
Today, black tea is consumed everywhere, making it the most popular drink after water (coffee comes in a distant third). However, when China initially introduced tea, it was only the drink of the elite class. The Chinese monopoly was eventually cut short by the opium wars and this paved the way for tea plantations to thrive in India.
India grows some of the finest Orthodox black teas in the world which are almost exclusively exported. Assam Orthodox black tea enjoys huge popularity in Germany, the Middle East and US for its ability to provide a strong, flavorful cup of tea which isn’t bitter, even without milk. The unrivalled weight loss properties are a bonus.
Despite growing some of the finest Orthodox whole leaf black tea in the world, this exclusive drink remains lesser known in India itself – a country that has taken to drinking chai (CTC tea boiled with milk and sugar) in copious amounts since the 1960s. Fortunately, whole leaf black tea is seeing an upsurge in popularity amongst our population as people begin to realize the many advantages that black tea offers.
Premium black teas, or orthodox teas, can be had ‘neat’ (so to speak), unraveling a delectable symphony of flavours alongside a potent mixture of health benefits. Unlike the CTC tea powders available in the market, whole leaf black teas give you the kick of tea without the acidity generally associated with drinking milky chai. Since whole leaf black teas are known for their inherent taste, they are usually not masked with the addition of milk (although they taste delicious with a splash of milk as well).
The mark of inherent quality in Orthodox whole leaf tea is in its ability to be savored black. The act of drinking it black opens up a whole host of health benefits including weight loss, cardiovascular health, visceral fat reduction, cholesterol reduction, oral health, cancer prevention and several others – making black tea one of the healthiest drinks on the planet.
The awareness and popularity of black tea is on the rise in India, as consumers increasingly demand a healthier, no milk, no sugar option with the familiar taste of the chai they love. As a result, many tea shops and cafes nowadays include black tea in their menus. However, most of them continue to use the same CTC (granular) tea powder to prepare their black teas as it reduces costs. This results in a black tea that is a far cry in terms of taste and health from the black tea made using whole leaf Orthodox tea leaves – which is the way the rest of the world enjoys black tea.
So if you love tea but milky chai doesn’t always love you back, perhaps give that robust cup of whole leaf black tea a go. You might just be surprised at what you’ve been missing out on.