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The Art of Tea Appreciation

I first connected with Subhorup Dasgupta via his blog, Subho’s Jejune Diet. The fact that he lived in my home town, Hyderabad, was another connect. When Subho organized a blogger’s meeting with a difference, I knew he was someone I wanted to meet with.

I was glad to finally meet him earlier this year at the Mindfulness workshop he organized. Although I was aware of Subho’s love for tea, I saw how passionate he was about it when he gave us a session at the workshop. I have been pestering requesting Subho for a guest post for a while now, and I’m so happy he obliged.

Subho, is one of a dying breed – a genuinely nice guy! I’m impressed with the courage with which his wife, Madhavi Padma and he, dare to live an alternate lifestyle, following their passions and beliefs.

I’m so glad to have him share his love for tea with you, dear readers. Also, if you’re in Hyderabad/Secunderabad, do make time to attend Subho’s workshop on Tea Appreciation (details at the bottom of this post).

Follow Subho on his blog, Facebook, and Twitter .

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Walk into any fancy tea shop and you will find a wide array of teas, classified typically into white, green and black teas. The same, with a few variations, applies to e-stores that home deliver premium tea. More than 90% of the world’s tea production being used to make black tea. What makes black tea such a hot favorite, pipping its allegedly more salubrious cousin, green tea to become the most widely consumed type of tea? The secret lies in what tea does to you – stimulating and relaxing you as you need at that point in time. Black tea is significantly more stimulating than green tea, and several times more stimulating than white tea.

Like most things in life, the beauty of this unique aspect of tea lies rooted in pain; death pangs, to be more specific. From the leaf on the tea plant to the dry leaf in your kitchen, tea undergoes extensive processing. The leaves are crushed, cut, bruised, and rolled. Sometimes they are pressed to allow all the oils to blend uniformly. Sometimes they are left for some time in the dark to ferment and oxidize. Sometimes it is dried very, very rapidly. This unnatural process of dying causes the cells in the tea leaves to behave in a peculiar way. The more you crush, bruise, roll, throw up in the air, the more they release the chemicals that make tea what it is. And as tea goes from white to green to black, it begins to behave more and more like coffee, a drink that is several, several times more stimulating than tea.

Coffee picks you up as soon as you drink it, and the more you drink it, the more your body goes into the hyper-prepared, hyper-efficient mode that we all associate with caffeine and sugar. The first differentiator between tea drinkers and coffee drinkers lies in the amount of caffeine and sugar consumed per cup of beverage. The second is the fact that you do not need to keep drinking tea (unless that is the only choice you have left to get water into your system!!). The tea “high” is a more gradual one, like a therapist speaking to a client, reaching out and feeling for what needs to happen most urgently and importantly right now. Tea also “picks you up” but in a slow, gentle manner and lets you off the ride almost without your knowing it. These, dare we say “off label” black tea benefits are often lost to the clamor of marketing and hype and the overall need for speed.

The Darjeeling region yields several of the best black teas each season with delicate taste, aroma and variants of the muscatel flavor, a mild, fruity, grape like complexity that sometimes baffles even the most experienced of palates. Sadly, fine tea is time and skill intensive to produce, making it prohibitively costly for many. The reason why almost all the black tea varieties Blend Of Tea recommends are from Darjeeling is because it is the only place in the world where the British were able to “go sinensis,” and that too with a geographical gusto that made the champagne of tea the champagne of tea. We have been drinking and studying (sounds like fun, doesn’t it?) for decades, and we are yet to find something that comes close to the beauty of Chinese cultivars grown in North Bengal, gifted in a manner of speaking by the trading ingenuity of the British.

Enough of that for now. Time to get the tea infuser out. You go look at what Blend Of Tea recommends from this season.

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Tea Appreciation: An Exploration of Gratitude, Respect and Love

This workshop introduces participants to the basics of tea appreciation.
What  will be covered:
Black, green and white tea
How to make tea
Water, temperature, steep time, leaf size and amount
Taste, Aroma, Color, Body, and other boring things.
Tea and Mindfulness
Date: Saturday, 25th July, 2015
Time: 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Venue: Our Sacred Space, Secunderabad
Facilitator: Subhorup Dasgupta
Call 88855-72873/9030613344 for registration and group booking

23 Comments

  1. Debbie D. Debbie D. July 10, 2015

    Interesting and educational! Although coffee is my main hot beverage, I do drink tea once in awhile, mostly of the green variety – supposed to aid in weight loss, etc. Iced tea, either black or green is a favourite summer beverage.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | July 11, 2015

      We drink both, Debbie. Mostly tea though. As much as I love iced tea, I cannot afford to have the sugar that goes to make it just right! 😉

      • Debbie D. Debbie D. July 11, 2015

        Don’t they have Stevia in India, Corinne? It’s a great natural sweetener and has no calories.

        • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | July 11, 2015

          I’ve heard so much about it, Debbie. I must check. I do use honey in my green tea. Checking out stevia today. Thanks!

  2. Darla M Sands Darla M Sands July 10, 2015

    You’ve made me crave a cup of Earl Grey right now! That’s my favorite at the time, and not terribly expensive. I recently learned that all teas come from a single family of plants. As you mention, the differences are more in the processing than anything, though I imagine climate has a huge effect. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | July 10, 2015

      We get Earl Grey here too, Darla and it is quite nice. Although Subho might have nothing to do with us for using tea bags! 😉

      • Subhorup Dasgupta Subhorup Dasgupta July 14, 2015

        Blend of Tea has a spin on it called Blend of Grey, using premium green loose leaf with extract of bergamot rind. It is our little tip of the hat to the captain of the Enterprise.

  3. Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA July 10, 2015

    I drink ICED tea and HOT coffee. Neither with any accoutrements…
    From the data I have found- there is more caffeine in my iced tea than my hot beverage. Obviously the same amount of sugar- ZERO.

    Great description of the workshop and vendor.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | July 10, 2015

      Thanks for sharing, Roy. Possibly your iced tea is steeped so much that the caffeine increases!

      • Subhorup Dasgupta Subhorup Dasgupta July 14, 2015

        Almost all the caffeine content of tea leaf is brewed out in the first 30 seconds of the steep. The remaining steep (if brewed again after a wash) is just as tasty but comes with as good as no caffeine.

  4. Vishal Bheeroo Vishal Bheeroo July 10, 2015

    That’s wonderful narration of what constitutes good tea and love the idea of being educated to the best tea. Had a chance to taste what I thought was amazing tea, read PG, and quite of few like Twining. But, seems it’s nothing. An incredible post.

  5. Francene Stanley Francene Stanley July 10, 2015

    I love tea and am fascinated by the involved process to make it into a special ‘brew’, as we call it here in the UK. I drink it with milk but no sugar, and really look forward to my first cup of tea for the day.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | July 10, 2015

      We’re big tea drinkers too, Francene. I have light tea with a little milk and sugar. Our classic Indian chai is much stronger and sweeter.

  6. sunita rajwade sunita rajwade July 10, 2015

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful insights on tea. There is something remarkably old fashioned and gracious about drinking tea I think.

  7. Shilpa Garg Shilpa Garg July 10, 2015

    I am a tea lover but I was not aware of the various aspects of different types of teas. tea! Very insightful and very interesting, Every cup from now in will remind me of the pain the tea leaves had to go through to refresh and rejuvenate me. Hope to attend your workshop sometimes soon, Subhorup. Thanks for an enlightening post and good to see you at Corinne’s space 🙂

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | July 10, 2015

      Subho does have a way with words (and with tea!), Shilpa! 🙂

    • Subhorup Dasgupta Subhorup Dasgupta July 14, 2015

      So glad, Shilpa, for your presence here. Would love to have you at one of the workshops in Hyderabad.

  8. Esha M Dutta Esha M Dutta July 10, 2015

    Wow! I totally agree with the way tea works…it does work wonders for me…black, green and every other flavour there is! Very interesting workshop and such a perfect combo of mindfulness and tea-appreciation 🙂 just the thing for a laid-back weekend for most people to unwind and energise! More power to Subhorup…we definitely need more people like him!

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | July 10, 2015

      Thanks so much, Esha. I hope you get a chance to attend Subho’s session sometime soon. I appreciate the shares!

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