Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Indian Teas - Assam, Nilgiri, Darjeeling...


Recommended Posts

For my money Upton Teas has a wide selection and consistently excellent quality. I've been ordering from them for several years now.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

Link to post
Share on other sites
For my money Upton Teas has a wide selection and consistently excellent quality.  I've been ordering from them for several years now.

yes you are correct-

www.kyelateas.com

i also enjoy trying darjeelings from upton as well-

my favorite s are the first flushes-

www.lepalaisdesthes.com also has a good selection of darjeelings, too.

joanne

:biggrin:

Link to post
Share on other sites

First flush Darjeelings generally have a freshness & pungency that you don't find in other pickings. I tend to prefer them too. Castleton is one of my favorite gardens.

Second flushes can develop a richness & complex character that will never happen with a first flush. They'll make mellower, less pungent cup. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for that particular taste. Margaret's Hope usually has an excellent second flush.

Then there's Golden Nepal, which is like a Darjeeling but subtly different.....

Edited by ghostrider (log)

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cut out the middle man and buy from source. In this case, the source is Makabari tea estate, considered by some to be one the best tea estates in the Darjeeling region:

http://www.silvertipstea.com

My personal favorite is their Makaibari Second Flush FTGFOP1S

I am just a satisfied customer and have no affiliation with them...

Link to post
Share on other sites

House of Tea is my favorite source. It's great quality, it's walking distance from my house and the shop smells SO good!

The teas are wonderful and they are the source for every decent restaurant in Philadelphia as well as other cities that ship in their products.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to post
Share on other sites
House of Tea is my favorite source.  It's great quality, it's walking distance from my house and the shop smells SO good!

But boy they are pricey!

For instance, on this page: http://www.houseoftea.com/category.html their Makaibari Estate FTGFOP-I is listed at $72.00 per lb!!!!

Same Tea is available from http://www.silvertipstea.com from $23.00 per lb.

Am I missing something or House of Tea really selling it at more than 3 times the price?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Same tea runs approx. $53 per lb from Upton Teas (Upton uses metric quantities so it's a rough price conversion).

But note that Upton has 4 different varieties of Makaibari FTGFOP1S - two first flushes & two seconds - at slightly different prices.

I presume that these represent pickings from different areas of the Estate, perhaps picked at slightly different times.

Whether House of Tea has the best Makaibari ever, or is simply charging what the traffic will bear, can only be decided by tasting, & that's a pricey decision.

It's a bit odd that House of Tea lists Sikkim under Darjeeling, & Nilgiri under Ceylon - not too far off, flavour-wise, but they're not the same regions.

The prices at SilverTips seem quite good, though a couple of their Assams are pretty expensive. That particular Makaibari may be a genuine bargain, or it may be from a picking that's getting old.

At Upton I've found that you generally get what you pay for. In the end it all comes down to personal taste; sometimes the premium on the more expensive varieties seems worth it, sometimes not. You never really know until you try.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 months later...

Castleton First Flushes are my personal favorite. Usually pricey, but I've never had regrets, wherever I've bought it.

I'm sure that Upton's is sterling. I forget whether I've tried theirs.

In the early 1990s, before the days of Net commerce, when good tea was hard to find in these parts, I used to bring back a suitase full of the stuff (not only Castleton) from Buder's Tea Parlor in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

On one trip, on re-entering the US at JFK, the customs agent who inspected my bags turned out to have been a tea taster for the American Tea Council. He was as surprised as I was to find a fellow tea fanatic in those circumstances. We had a brief but quite nice discussion of Darjeeling & Assam tea gardens.

Sorry for wandering off on another tangent, but you just sparked a flood of memories with that question.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

I haven't yet, and not much budget this year, but I'm trying to figure out where I might source a reasonable first flush Longjing or sencha (gyokuro is outta' my league this year!). I've been keeping an eye on the In Pursuit of Tea website, as I know they travel a lot this time of year.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 years later...

I have a tea from Thunderbolttea that is described as a Darjeeling china or china grade tea. I thought all tea from Darjeeling was originally from china. Does this mean it's an oolong tea or what?

Gac

Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a tea from Thunderbolttea that is described as a Darjeeling china or china grade tea.  I thought all tea from Darjeeling was originally from china.  Does this mean it's an oolong tea or what?

Good question. Can you tell us exactly which tea it is on their site? Or give a link?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. I think they are simply distnguishing the small leaf Chinese variety grown for Darjeeling from the large leaf Asssam tea leaves more common in India. The leaves can be processed to different levels of oxidation, but there does not appear to be anything in their content describing their various Darjeelings that states specifically how they are processed. They indicate which flush from which estate, but calling it Chinese alone does not tell us whether it was processed toward the lighter or darker end of the spectrum. But I find the term "China-hybrid" they use to be a little confusing.

I know a few people who who have traveled the tea areas of India and who know more about Darjeelings and Indian teas in general than I do. I'll talk to them and see if I can add anything more to clear this up.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your reply and in advance for your research. I did some more myself and came up with a similar idea--that there are 2 types of bushes--the indigenous Indian variety and those imported from China. I'm guessing the China-hybrid is a hybrid of both or two Chinese varieties?

Gac

Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for your reply and in advance for your research.  I did some more myself and came up with a similar idea--that there are 2 types of bushes--the indigenous Indian variety and those imported from China.  I'm guessing the China-hybrid is a hybrid of both or two Chinese varieties?

Yes. I agree. Those are the two best guesses about what the hybrid means. If it is [art indineous, the question is whether such a hybrid is considered a true Darjeeling, since there is apparently a huge problem with fake Darjeeling on the market.

Is this the first time you have ordered from this purveyor? How long did it take to reach you?

So, how do you like this tea, whatever it represents.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It took about a month. I enjoy the tea. I put it in my middle category, which is teas I'll finish every leaf of but not reorder, which is good because it's sold out and not available anymore. This was my second time ordering from them. I had ordered something like 4 darjeelings and this was my favorite, so I ordered another batch. It's a 2007 Sungma China Classic. The description of the 2008 Sungma Delight in the link I posted has some similarity. Mine is very buttery and somewhat sweet but I wouldn't describe it as sugary or limey. Mine is also somewhat green when infused. The other teas I ordered from them tasted a little stale--as though the month of travel didn't do them any good, but for some reason this one came through fine both times. I like it best cold-brewed. It brings out what I call the over-tones, though I don't think that's an official tea term.

Gac

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Try to go to the TOCKLAI research station website

Director General

TRA, Tocklai Experimental Station Jorhat -785 008

Assam, India

Tel: (91)-(0376-360467)

Fax : (91)-(0376-360474)

e-Mail : TRATOK@ASM.NIC.IN

"A species-specific primer was also developed for distinguishing between the Assam and China type tea cultivars.

Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers were also studied in depth to detect diversity and genetic differentiation of several important tea clones, including the famous `Darjeeling tea', mainly to protect cultivars for intellectual property rights purposes."

Tapan Kumar Mondal

Centre for Advance Study in Tea Science and Technology

Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidalaya, India

mondaltk@rediffmail.com

D. Singh: Advances in tea breeding in north-east India. Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Symposium on Plantation Crops : p. 88-106 (1984).

Barua, D. N. 1963. Characteristics of Tocklai released clones. Two Bud 10:26-28.

[ Two Buds & A Leaf = Journal published by the Indian Tea Industry, get article by Inter-library loan request]

Wight, W. 1956. Commercial selection and breeding of tea in India. World Crops8:263-268.

Wight, W. 1958.The agrotype concept in tea taxonomy. Nature 181:893-895.

Wight, W. 1959. Nomenclature and classification of the tea plant. Nature 183:1726-1728.

Wight, W. 1962. Tea classification revised. Curr. Sci. 31:298-299.

Wight, W., and R. C. J. H. Gilchrist. 1961a. The concept of kind of tea. Nature 191:14-16.

Tea Breeding & Germplasm Evaluation [ 2005-6?], published by

Dr. N.K. Jain

Secretary, International Society of Tea Science

Resident Editor, International Journal of Tea Science

A-298, Sarita Vihar ,

New Delhi 110076, India

Website: http://www.teascience.org

Email: teascience@gmail.com

See also my post in the Tea Rooms of America thread about Makaibari & other Darjeeling teas sold by Silver Tips

http://www.silvertipstea.com/fusionecommerce/browse/

After many years of searching, I happened upon this place, clued in by another Indian. Super selection, gracious, superb service, a great relief from the HUGELY overpriced vendors elsewhere. It is unnecessry to add that I have NO commercial connections, merely great satisfaction to escape the stranglehold of insane, extortionate pricing I had experienced elsewhere and receive only the very finest quality teas: Darjeeling, and all other Indian, Nepalese and Lankan. Enormous selection, very knowedgeable owner, the sister-in law of the Makaibari planter.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...

andiesenji posted the follwing in the What Tea Are You Drinking Today topic.

This morning I brewed a pot of Meleng FTGFOT, one of the Assams from Special Teas.

I like the malty flavor of Assams and this one has the characteristics but not as pronounced as other Assams.

Unlike most Assams, I like this one without milk.  It is very aromatic and has a lingering aftertaste that is very pleasant and complimentary to savory breads.

A couple of days ago I brewed a pot of the Mangalam FTGFOT, also from Special Teas, which has a more pronounced malty flavor, fruity and slightly spicy, a very faint hint of pepper. 

I prefer this one with milk and one of the raw sugars - although it needs less sweetening than many teas.

It is a terrific complement to almost any type of food, especially the stronger-flavored meats and goes beautifully with hearty cheeses.

Also wonderful with sweet pastries, cakes, scones, etc.

Both of these teas are somewhat expensive but both can be infused multiple times and I use half the amount I would require for other, less full-bodied teas, so they are quite economical when brewed this way.

I brewed both for only 90 seconds for the first infusion - that produced an excellent flavor, beautiful color and quite enough strength for my taste.

Thanks for the detailed comments, andiesenji. I agree, higher quality teas are more expensive per ounce, but generally no more expensive per cup due to their capacity for making numerous infusions. How many infusions did you get out of these Assam's and how many do you usually get with an average one?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I got four infusions from both Assams. Usually I can get three from most full-leaf blacks, the broken-leaf and CTC will produce two good infusions.

After each infusion has been drained from the leaves, I use a fork to "toss" them so they separate a bit instead of remaining in a solid clump.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By Sheel
      Prawn Balchao is a very famous Goan pickle that has a sweet, spicy and tangy flavor to it. 
      For the balchao paste you will need:
      > 8-10 kashmiri red chillies
      > 4-5 Byadagi red chillies
      > 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
      > 1/2 tsk turmeric powder 
      > 1 tsp peppercorn
      > 6 garlic cloves
      > 1/2 tsp cloves
      > 1 inch cinnamon stick
      > Vinegar 
      First you will need to marinate about 250 grams of prawns in some turmeric powder and salt. After 15 minutes deep fry them in oil till them become golden n crisp. Set them aside and add tsp vinegar to them and let it sit for 1 hour. Now, make a paste of all the ingredients mentioned under the balchao paste and make sure not to add any water. In the same pan used for fryin the prawns, add in some chopped garlic and ginger. Lightly fry them and immediately add one whole chopped onion. Next, add the balchao paste amd let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the prawns and cook until the gravy thickens. Finally add 1 tsp sugar and salt according to your taste. Allow it to cool. This can be stored in a glass jar. Let this mature for 1-3 weeks before its use. Make sure never to use water at any stage. This can be enjoyed with a simple lentil curry and rice.
    • By Kasia
      Even though I would like to change the situation, the winter is coming. Sooner or later there will be sharp winds, frost and unpleasant moisture. I don't know how you like to warm up at home, but on the first cold day I dust off my home recipe for hot and yummy winter teas.

      You can use my recipe or come up with your own proposals for fiery mixtures. Only one thing should be the same: your favourite tea must be strong and hot.

      Ingredients (for 2 teas)
      Raspberry-orange
      8 cloves
      a piece of cinnamon
      2 grains of cardamom
      4 slices of orange
      2 teaspoons of honey
      your favourite tea
      50ml of raspberry juice or 30ml of raspberry juice and 30ml of raspberry liqueur
      Add 4 of the cloves, cinnamon and cardamom to some water and boil for a while to release their flavour and aroma. Remove the seasoning and brew the tea with this water. Crush two slices of orange with honey. Add the raspberry juice or a mixture of juice and liqueur to the tea. Next add the honey with orange. Mix it in. Decorate the tea with the rest of the cloves and orange.

      Lemon-ginger
      8 cloves
      3 slices of fresh ginger
      2 grains of cardamom
      50ml of ginger syrup or 30ml of ginger syrup and 30ml of ginger-lemon liqueur
      4 slices of lemon
      2 teaspoons of honey
      Add 4 of the cloves, ginger and cardamom to some water and boil for a while to release their flavour and aroma. Remove the seasoning and brew the tea with this water. Crush two slices of lemon with honey. Add the ginger syrup or mixture of syrup and liqueur to the tea. Next add honey with lemon. Mix it in. Decorate the tea with the rest of the cloves and lemon.

      Enjoy your drink!

    • By Deeps
      This is one of my daughter favorite dishes, being mild and less spicy she loves this rice dish.  Its super easy to make and goes well with most Indian curries.
      Do try this out and I am sure you will be happy with the results.
       

       
      Prep Time : 5 mins
      Cook Time: 5 mins
      Serves: 2
       
      Ingredients:
      1 cup rice(basmati), cooked
      1/2 cup coconut, shredded or grated
      1 green chili, slit
      1 dried red chili
      1 1/2 tablespoon oil/ghee(clarified butter)
      1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
      1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
      1/2 tablespoon chana dal(split chickpeas)
      1/2 tablespoon urad dal(split black gram)
      1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
      A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
      Few curry leaves
      Salt to taste
       
      Directions
      1) Heat oil/ghee(clarified butter) in a pan in medium flame. I used coconut oil here because it tastes best for this dish.
      2) Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal(split chickpeas), urad dal(split black gram), green chili, dried red chili, ginger and curry leaves. Fry this for 30 seconds in medium flame. The trick is to ensure that these are fried but not burned.
      3) Add a pinch of hing(asafoetida) and mix well.
      4) Now add the cooked rice and coconut. Stir well for about 15 to 20 seconds and switch off the flame.
      5) Finally add salt into this and mix well. You could add peanuts or cashew nuts if you prefer. Goes well with most curries.
    • By loki
      Sour Tomatillo Achar

      Made this one up from a recipe for lemons. It really works for tomatilloes. A unique spice mix, and really sour for a 'different' type of pickle, or achar. It is based on a Marwari recipe - from the arid north-western part of India. Tomatilloes are not used in India (or at least not much) but are quite productive plants in my garden while lemons or other sour fruits are not possible to grow here. No vinegar or lemon juice is used, because tomatilloes are very acidic and don't need any extra.

      Ingredients
      3 lbs tomatilloes husks removed and quartered
      1/4 cup salt
      1 Tbs black mustard seeds
      2 star anise buds
      10 dried chilies (I used very hot yellow peppers)
      1 tsp fenugreek seeds
      2 inch ginger (ground to a paste)
      2 TBL dark brown sugar
      1/2 cup sugar

      1. In a large bowl, put the tomatilloes and sprinkle salt over them. Cover it and leave for a day, mixing occasionally.

      2. Next day drain the tomatilloes.

      3. Dry roast the star anise (put in first as these take longer, the black mustard, and the chilie pods (add last and barely brown in places). Cool.

      4. Grind the roasted spices with the fenugreek and put aside.

      5. Add tomatilloes, ginger, sugars, and everything else to a large pan and heat to boiling.

      6. Cook till fully hot and boiling.

      7. Fill half-pint jars and seal.
    • By loki
      Sweet Eggplant Pickle

      This is an Indian pickle, some would call a chutney, that I made up from several sources and my own tastes. It is based it on my favorite sweet brinjal (eggplant here in the US) pickle available commercially. It has onion and garlic, which are often omitted in some recipes due to dietary restrictions of some religious orders. It also has dates which I added on my own based on another pickle I love. I also used olive oil as mustard oil is not available and I like it's taste in these pickles. Use other oils if you like. This has more spices than the commercial type - and I think it's superior. I avoided black mustard seed, fenugreek, and cumin because almost all other pickles use these and they start to taste the same. One recipe from Andhra Pradesh used neither and I followed it a little. It's wonderful with all sorts of Indian foods - and also used for many other dishes, especially appetizers.
      SPICE MIX (Masala)
      4 Tbs coriander seeds
      3 hot chilies (I used a very hot Habanero type, so use more if you use others)
      18 cardamom pods
      2 inches cinnamon
      24 cloves
      1 1/2 Tbs peppercorns
      MAIN INGREDIENTS
      1 cups olive oil
      4 inches fresh ginger, minced fine, about 1/2 cup
      6 cloves garlic, minced
      1 large onion finely chopped
      3 lb eggplant, diced, 1/4 inch cubes
      1/2 lb chopped dates
      1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
      2 cups rice vinegar (4.3 percent acidity or more)
      2 cups brown sugar
      2 Tbs salt
      2 tsp citric acid
      Spice Mix (Masala)

      1. Dry roast half the coriander seeds in a pan till they begin to brown slightly and become fragrant - do not burn. Cool.

      2. Put roasted and raw coriander seeds and all the other spices in a spice mill and grind till quite fine, or use a mortar and pestle. Put aside.

      Main Pickle

      1. Heat half the oil and fry ginger till slightly browned, slowly.

      2. Add garlic, onion, and half the salt and fry slowly till these begin to brown a bit too.

      3. Add eggplant, turmeric, and spice mix (Masala) and combine well. Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

      4. Add rest of ingredients, including rest of the salt and olive oil and heat slowly to a boil.

      5. Boil for about 5 minutes. Add a little water if too thick - it should be nearly covered with liquid, but not quite - it will thin upon cooking so wait to add the water till heated through.

      6. Bottle in sterilized jars and seal according to your local pickling instructions. This recipe will be sufficiently acidic.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...