Kashmiri Kahwa To Lebu: 8 Teas To Celebrate The Monsoon In India

Steaming cups of tea enjoyed with friends, lovers, and family sitting by the window, watching the monsoon showers, are a singular delight. The monsoon comes to different regions of India in varied ways. In Kerala, it arrives in a leisurely manner, shyly at first, and then pours unabashedly. The Shravan Sari in Maharashtra is a short burst of heavy showers that leave behind the aroma of drenched soil. And in Kashmir, monsoons come almost in torrential bursts that block mountainous paths and turn the valley into a slippery, treacherous landscape. 

Just as monsoons appear differently in several regions of India, so too do the varieties of warm, refreshing tea sipped during this time differ from place to place. While there are four primary tea brews: white, black, oolong, and green, in India, large-leafed black teas grow well at lower altitudes. Fully oxidised black tea and green tea varieties are widely used in different kinds of teas brewed across several regions. While brewing tea at home, it is essential to choose the appropriate leaves for specific kinds of chai.

From the widely known masala chai to the Kashmiri kahwa, read on below to know about some of the different kinds of teas that are savoured in monsoons:

Kashmiri Kahwa

This aromatic, warm beverage made with green tea leaves that are brewed along with a host of different spices like cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, and even Kashmiri rose petals is a wonderful herbal infusion to sip on. In Kashmir, kahwa is served with crushed almonds and walnuts. Generally consumed during the winter months, kahwa is also a refreshing beverage to consume on a rainy day.

Kangra Chai

Kangra chai is essentially a black and green tea variant cultivated in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh. This black tea is particularly known for its sweet aftertaste, while the green leaves are known for their woody notes. Kangra chai is now available in different organic flavours, including rose, hibiscus, and lemongrass, which only enhance the aroma and distinct taste of the black brew.

Noon/Sheer Chai

Noon chai, or pink tea, is another variant from Kashmir made from gunpowder tea, which is essentially tea leaves that have been rolled into circular pellets. Sheer chai stands out because of its slightly salty notes; in fact, it is made by adding yak’s milk, baking powder, and a hint of salt to the gunpowder tea brew. Edible rose petals and pistachios are also added to this concoction, which really enhances the flavour of this potent drink.

Sulaimani Chai

In Malabar, monsoons are welcomed with sulaimani chai, a sweet and sour tea known for helping with stomach issues. The spiced black tea is generally drunk without milk and is brewed until it achieves a slightly golden hue. Spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger are also added to the chai. Sulaiman in Arabic means 'A man of peace,’ a name that was later given to the chai to signify a lasting friendship between the locals of Malabar and the Arabs. While this chai is traditionally served after heavy meals, it is now also drunk during periods of heavy showers for its digestive properties.

Zafrani Chai 

This Hyderabadi local variety basically follows the recipe of a normal milk tea with the addition of saffron in the brew. When monsoon showers hit this province of southern India, zafrani chai is a popular beverage consumed in tea houses and tea shops. Zafrani chai is also a soothing tea for winter and is enjoyed just as much in the chilly weather.

Gur Gur Chai

Gur gur chai is a delightful butter tea popularly found in Sikkim and Ladakh. The chai is made using Tibetan tea leaves and is called gur-gur in Ladakh because it energises the locals to beat the winters and rain showers. Generally had with yak milk, chai gets its salty taste from yak butter and pink salt and is traditionally made by brewing tea with a bit of baking soda.

Lebu Cha

This is a zesty treat from the streets of Kolkata, primarily a lemon tea with the goodness of vitamin C and undertones of ginger. The lebu cha is actually a summer favourite for its refreshing quality, but in the monsoon, the black brew is equally attractive for its comforting, lemony notes.

Masala Chai

Masala chai is almost an inseparable part of India’s food culture, with every household always having the essential ingredients required to brew this monsoon favourite warm beverage. Generally, tulsi is added to masala chai more frequently during the rainy season for its healing properties. The chai derives its fragrance from a host of spices like cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon, which combined with the bold and robust flavour of the tea leaves make it absolutely irresistible on rainy afternoons.