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 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.
Famous Indian teas
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 which can be named “best tea in India.”
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, which 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 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 India’s best teas. 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.’ With their distinctive muscatel aroma, Darjeeling teas make up only 1 percent of India’s tea output. But they leave all other teas behind in terms of their global fame!
In India’s southern part, 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.
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.”
How to make Indian black tea
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 prefer to have your black tea with milk or cream and sugar, stick to Assam or Nilgiri 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. In particular, Darjeeling oolongs are quite close to the traditional first flush flavor and make for a light, refreshing cup.
Where to buy the best Indian tea online
We feature only quality loose-leaf tea products and earn from qualifying purchases.
One of the best places to buy premium Indian teas is the Vahdam Teas 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 inOprah's Favorite. 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).
Here are a few more options for you.
Classic English Breakfast Black Loose Leaf Tea
Curated blend of robust and flavorful Assam black teas - 100% Pure Unblended Single Region Tea Strong, Bold and Flavorful Black Tea Leaves Tastes characteristically malty with hints of caramel and cocoa Has a soothing woody aroma with a whiff of chocolate Makes for a bold breakfast cuppa Can be served with or without milk and sugar Can be brewed both hot and cold Popularised in Indian by the British monarchy, our Classic English Breakfast tea brings together the finest bounties from the divine region of Assam in India. A curated combination of robust, full-bodied, and flavourful Assam black teas makes for a bold breakfast cuppa! The dark black leaves are interspersed with beautiful golden tips. The bright, reddish liquor is rich, full-bodied, and is characteristically malty with hints of caramel and cocoa. It also has a soothing woody aroma with a whiff of chocolate. Truly regal and energising.
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.
Mangalam Gold Summer Black Tea
A malty Assam cup with notes of brown dates, dried raisins, and apricots. Second flush teas from Assam are known for their distinctive malty flavor. This black tea acquires the same malty traits along with the gorgeous golden tips that make it stand out from the rest. Robust malty flavors interlaced by the delectable notes of brown dates and dried raisins hum throughout the entire duration of the cup. Briefly interrupted by the hints of cocoa, the experience finishes on stone-fruity flavors akin to apricots, making it a sublime cup of summer black tea.
Himalayan Wine Tea
Heavily-fired tea; a challenging tipple nonetheless. 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 is unlike any summer black tea from India but one that's intoxicating and delicious in its own unique way
More tea, please!
Isabelle is a freelance writer, self-taught tea nerd, and tea blending enthusiast. She is a herbalist with a strong interest in Ayurveda. Each year Isabelle travels extensively, returning with tea samples from around the world. She is a big fan of handmade teaware and Japanese green teas.