This expert reveals how to brew the tastiest tea

Tea artist Susmita Das Gupta

Ready to have the first sip of your morning tea? Consider this: what you are drinking is probably not authentic tea at all. Yes, you heard it right. And no, it is not us who say this, but a tea artist and expert.

"Tea brewed with milk and sugar is just a beverage. It can't be called authentic tea," asserts Susmita Das Gupta, whose connection with tea goes beyond savouring the small sips.

For Susmita, tea brewing is like a ritual, a time-honoured tradition evolved in various regions of the world that needs to be learnt and propagated. Through her regular workshops on tea appreciation, brewing and tasting, she breaks myths about the drink, while also exposing the participants to various brewing traditions of the world.

"Some specialty teas are like wines and should be enjoyed with every sip. There're so many varieties of teas that a lifetime would probably not be enough to savour all of them," she says.

Under the banner "Tea by Susmita", she holds several events to introduce tea in its various avatars.

Two varieties

Susmita explains that there are two varieties of tea. One is the orthodox tea, the loose whole leaf tea made by hand. "Once the tea leaves, buds and twigs are plucked, they are put through the traditional process of withering, rolling, oxidisation and firing. This process is time consuming," she adds.

Orthodox tea is used in making white, green, Oolong (Chinese) and black varieties. Orthodox teas are authentic in terms of aroma, flavour and brew. Made the traditional way, these varieties give the drinker the experience of the complex, subtle and multi-layered flavours, thus qualifying as the premium varieties.

CTC tea — made through the crush, tear and curl process — is the common tea variety that majority savour at home. The process involves putting the plucked teas, twigs and buds in rolling machines, creating a homogeneous variety that gives the strong liquor and bold flavor. Since they are made for mass consumption, they are cheaper than the traditional orthodox teas.

"Our country produces some of the best orthodox tea varieties," Susmita says. "In fact, the Darjeeling tea is called the champagne of teas."

The events she holds include traditional English tea parties, aromas of tea and tea pairing to show how tea — like wine — can be added to various food varieties to reveal its best taste and qualities. "Tea is usually paired with chocolate or cheese," she says.

She says tea has several health benefits, provided they are not ruined by adding milk and sugar.

Susmita has been chosen as one of the official tea artists and tea bloggers for AVPA's (Agency for the Valorization of Agricultural Products) Teas at the world championship to be held in Paris on June 26.

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This expert reveals how to brew the tastiest tea

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