Strong, Smooth and Sublime: Finding Best Tea In India

Last updated: May 23, 2020 at 15:21 pm

How to find the best tea in India

Zeroing in on the best tea in India is practically impossible. You’d have to choose between muscatel-scented Darjeeling teas, full-bodied Assam teas, and smooth Nilgiri teas. But if you’re open to broadening your horizons and discovering new ways to enjoy your black tea, India is the place to go. It is home to some of the world’s finest black teas, along with well-loved tea recipes like indian masala chai tea. It is also home to over 100,000 tea estates, and second only to China in terms of annual tea production.

In fact, Indian tea is great for people who want to be introduced to tea culture.

  • Flavor-wise, they are quite close to traditional European tastes. If you like tea blends such as English Breakfast, you already get the gist.
  • It’s easy to get overwhelmed by too many choices when it comes to tea. Conveniently, Indian teas aren’t as diverse as their counterparts from China. They also tend to be more consistent in quality than Chinese teas.
  • Indian teas are less “ceremonial”. Brewing a Chinese tea is not hard, but it does require some knowledge and experience. Indian teas are usually prepared the traditional European way – in a teapot. When brewed, they are easy to handle and don’t turn bitter on oversteeping, a common mistake for beginners.
  • Many tea brands produce premium Indian teas in easy-to-use teabags, making them even more approachable.

Our go-to place to stock up on premium Indian teas is Vahdam Teas store.

Please note we earn from qualifying purchases: Affiliate Disclosure>>

editor*s choice
Vahdam Teas Online Store

Vahdam Teas Online Store

The quality of their products is superb, shipping is fast and customer service is excellent, no wonder that Vahdam Teas have been featured in Oprah's Favorites. All teas are cleaned, processed and packed packed directly at the source and then air shipped to local fulfillment center in USA. Orders shipped by Fedex for quick delivery. Use our exclusive coupon MADTEA15 for a 15% discount storewide (2 uses per user).

Read on to find our Top 10 Best Indian Tea picks. But first, make sure you know what to look for.

In search of best Indian tea

There’s no general description for ‘Indian black tea’ because there is no such thing. India has three major tea-producing regions, and each has some unique and iconic teas, many of them can be named “best tea in India”.

Assam

The northeastern state of Assam produces the bulk of India’s tea. In the early 1800s, a certain variety of the tea plant (camellia sinensis assamica) was found to be growing naturally in the jungles of Assam. This discovery was a boon for the British East India Company, who were looking for ways to end China’s tea monopoly at the time. Since then, the warm, rainy lowlands of Assam have been producing a unique range of strong, malty Assam black teas.

A cup of hot Indian black tea

Darjeeling

A few hundred miles northwest of Assam are the gorgeous hills of Darjeeling. This is another tea-producing region that many would say is home to some of the best teas in India. Tea plants that grow here are of the China variety. In fact, they were smuggled there by the British who considered Darjeeling’s microclimate to be ideal for tea cultivation. Soon enough, the region was on the map for producing the ‘champagne of teas’. Darjeeling teas, with their distinctive muscatel aroma, make up only 1 percent of India’s tea output. But they leave all other teas behind in terms of their global fame!

Nilgiri

In the southern part of India, the Nilgiri hills produce another variety of black tea that is smooth, mellow, and open to all kinds of blends and flavorings. Nilgiri teas grow at very high elevations, but the climate here is relatively mild. As a result, the tea develops a well-balanced flavor and grows abundantly enough to be reasonably priced. Nilgiri tea may not be the best tea in India by the usual standards. But it lends itself well to milk, cream and spices. And it makes a delicious iced drink.

Best Indian teas in reviews

Indian black teas tend to be “strong and punchy”, giving you the “perfect caffeine kick” mixed with “delicious smoothness”. Darjeeling teas are the more fragrant of the lot, offering a “delicate and complex mix of notes”. Fans of the tea find it “fruity and delightful without being astringent”. Assam teas make “good, strong breakfast brews” with their “good color” and “sweet and malty flavor”. When brewed with milk and warming spices, they make excellent chai teas. Nilgiri black teas are “easy to drink” with their “pleasant taste” that is sometimes “reminiscent of good Ceylons”. Offering “caffeine without the bitterness”, they also “stand up to honey and milk” and make “perfect iced teas”.

Tea tips

Indian teas need to be prepared just right to be enjoyed to their fullest. You can get your hands on the best tea in India – Assam, Darjeeling or Nilgiri – and still manage to miss out on its iconic flavor. If you like your tea with milk or cream and sugar, stick to Assam or Nilgiri black teas or go for Masala Chai. Premium Darjeeling teas (especially the first flush) should be enjoyed without milk. Green teas and oolongs are relatively new to India, but you’ll find some delightful options from Darjeeling’s tea estates. Darjeeling oolongs in particular are quite close to the traditional first flush flavor and make for a light, refreshing cup.

Pin it! 10 best Indian Black Teas
editor*s choice
Assam Enigma Second Flush Black Tea

Assam Enigma Second Flush Black Tea

This exquisite, best-selling Second Flush is a crown of Assam teas, handpicked from the choicest estates in Assam and blended in-house by our skilled master blenders. A delectable malty cup of tea featuring hints of wood and the fresh aroma of a ripe fruit. The brownish-black leaves are small, lightly-rolled, and are interspersed with short flakes and ample golden tips...
Himalayan Wine Tea

Himalayan Wine Tea

A heady high-fired tea, this black tea packs quite a flavor punch and caffeine kick. A strong hit of tobacco and cocoa can be experience throughout the length of the flavor profile of this tea. Its liquor is smooth in texture, robust, full of gusto and topped with high-fired, smoky flavors that finish on a delicately sweet note. The overall experience of this tea..
Mangalam Gold Summer Black Tea

Mangalam Gold Summer Black Tea

Assam's Mangalam estate is another of our must-haves every summer. The entire estate has been planted with clonal tea bushes. Their orthodox teas are a benchmark in golden tippy orthodox Assam teas. They are mellow but make a flavorful malty cup.
organic
The Tao of Tea, First Flush Darjeeling Black Tea, Loose Leaf

The Tao of Tea, First Flush Darjeeling Black Tea, Loose Leaf

This First Flush Darjeeling is grown in the Mirik district (about an hour’s drive from the town of Darjeeling), at a Certified Organic tea garden. Due to its location and the age of the plants, the garden typically produces very robust, flowery teas. The term “First Flush” refers to the first plucking season of the year, which is March to mid-April. Teas from the First Flush are generally more fragrant and lighter than those from the following second flush. Within the First Flush, tea gardens will generally produce many batches, as the tea pickers work daily to cover the vast garden.
Darjeeling Puttabong Summer

Darjeeling Puttabong Summer

Black tea from the famous Darjeeling region of India. This summer harvest tea comes to us from one of our favorites, Puttabong Estate. These tea gardens are some of the highest in the world, at 6000 feet above sea level. At these high altitudes, the tea leaves grow more slowly, and have more time to develop their unique Darjeeling flavor. This one has sweet, white gra..
1st Flush Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling “Limited Edition”

1st Flush Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling “Limited Edition”

This wonderful Indian Darjeeling is the best first flush that we have ever had the privilege of tasting, and is available in very strictly limited quantities, so don't miss out! We only have limited stock quantity of Darjeeling Margaret's Hope First Flush available, and it is already proving incredibly popular, so be sure not to leave it too late to buy. Darjeeling Ma..
Assam Golden Tips by Ghograjan Estate

Assam Golden Tips by Ghograjan Estate

œGolden Tips refer to the distinct kind of bud grown by this tea varietal. These larger buds are carefully roasted and give the tea a noticeably malty flavor. A rich, full-bodied, Assam tea that teases your palate without overpowering your taste buds. Ghograjan Tea Estate is a 5th generation family run estate in the renowned tea belt of Upper Assam. Its history d..
Assam Harmony

Assam Harmony

Bold, powerful black tea from the Assam region of India. A deep, burgundy-red cup and roasted grain aroma, malty rich flavor with notes of raisins. Pungent but smooth astringency, making this tea an ideal cup to pair with milk and sugar. This outstanding Assam comes from a favorite garden of ours, Mangalam Estate.
best value
Classic English Breakfast Black Tea

Classic English Breakfast Black Tea

Our classic breakfast tea is a rich combination of strong, full-bodied and robust teas handpicked from the finest estates of Assam and goes perfectly with a dash of milk and sugar. English Breakfast is among the most popular tea blends in the world. Popularized by the Queen Victoria of England, it is traditionally paired with a hearty English breakfast. Assam is known..
organic
Blue Mountain Nilgiri, Organic

Blue Mountain Nilgiri, Organic

Organic & Fair Trade Black TeaSingle-estate premium loose leaf tea Origin: India, Nilgiri Mountains. 100% Organic & Fair TradeThese rich burgundy leaves from India's Nilgiri Mountains steep into a bright amber liquor, with a well-rounded body that floats on your palate with hints of ripe summer blackberries. This Fair Trade Certified black tea from the Iyerpadi Estate..

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