Lucknow: “If you are cold, tea will warm you, if you are heated, it will cool you,” said 19th former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, William Ewart Gladstone. In a country which runs on tea, sipping a piping hot cup of thick, milky, sugary ‘chai’, as temperatures skyrocket to record highs, is perhaps the last thing on most minds.
But with palates accustomed to the flavors of tea, connoisseurs are game to try and relish a host of exotic brews that cool and rejuvenate the body.
The Buransh chai or Rhododendron tea is one such beverage popular in the Northern regions around Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Brewed from dried petals of the flaming red rhododendron flowers – which bloom from late March to May across the cool hills of the Himalayan region – buransh chai is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to aiding in digestion, fighting allergies and improving lung health.
Rhododendrons are hand-picked, dried in the sun and boiled in water with a dash of sugar. Basil leaves and some green tea are added to accentuate the flavor profile, before straining and serving.
“Love at First Sip!” screamed a post on Buransh chai from Uttarakhand Tourism on micro-blogging platform Koo.
Buransh chai can be enjoyed as a chilled or hot beverage, any time of the day. Like this ‘flowery’ blend, ‘fruity’ iced teas are increasingly catching the fancy of tea lovers this summer. Especially apple and grape iced teas, known for their antioxidant boost.
“Which is your favorite flavor of Iced Tea?”, the Tea Board of India Kooed, asking users about their preference.
As cold brews, iced teas are made by letting tea infuse in chilled water for a couple of hours, allowing the water to absorb the flavors. This process reduces any bitterness that exists because of the tannins, giving the blend a smooth finish, and making it a superb replacement for aerated beverages.
In a tea-drinking nation, where per capita consumption is around 750 grams per annum, refreshing blends are gradually becoming the beverage-of-choice for tea drinkers, especially for millennials, who are eager to experiment and evolve with exotic, seasonal and local brews.