Strong, Smooth and Sublime: Finding Best Tea In India

Last updated: August 4, 2020 at 13:55 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...
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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..
Darjeeling Tea

Darjeeling Tea

Say hello to the champagne of teas, our organic Darjeeling tea. This loose leaf Indian Darjeeling tea steeps a pink, light amber color with fresh floral and apple-like flavor notes.  
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Organic Breakfast Tea Bags

A robust blend of premium organic black tea leaves from Assam and Southern India, punctuated with a hearty finish. Aromatic and brisk, it is great black or with milk and sugar or a touch of honey.
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Darjeeling, 20 Tea Sachets

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Himalayan Wine Tea

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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..
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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.

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