India is today the world's second largest tea producer, having exported its wide selection of teas around the globe since the early 1800s. The cultivation of flavoursome brews stretches back several thousand years and it remains the beverage of choice for people across all walks of life in India.
Over 800,000 tonnes of tea is consumed by Indians each year, ranging from smoothly flavoured breakfast teas to the various interpretations of chai tea served up everywhere from corporate boardrooms to road side stalls.
The arrival of the British East India Company prompted the start of commercial tea production in the country and today only China produces more tea than India per annum.
The primary tea-growing regions are Darjeeling and Assam in the north-east, and Nilgiri to the south. Here you'll find tea plantations spread out across vast rolling hills, where mature tea leaves are manually picked before going through the production process in nearby factories.
Black tea has historically been India's most common tea, but there has been a considerable rise in demand for green and white teas in recent years. As a result, you can choose from a rich variety of flavours and blends during your travels, including spiced chai tea, strong black tea and the fresh and fruity flavoured white varieties.
The gold and brown leaves grown in the Assam region, meanwhile, tend to be used to create refreshing breakfast tea blends, whilst the white Darjeeling tea is treasured for its delicate flavours which lend themselves well to evening meals.
Tea from the Darjeeling region is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas and is widely regarded as one of the finest in the world. If you plan on visiting the area you can look forward to touring the plantations and sampling a variety of tea flavours, ranging from light an aromatic to rich and fruity. The teas are produced in various 'flushes' (pickings), with the flavour dependant on which time of year the leaves are picked.