We sipped Creamy Cardamom Tea on a tea factory tour in Ooty and got inspired to create this recipe for you. That tour also influenced the purchases we made in the tea museum’s gift shop. All purchases led to our ability to recreate that Creamy Cardamom Tea again at home.
We made our way straight to the Nilgiri loose leaf varieties and skipped the CTC – cut, torn and curled – packages of tea bags. Loose leaf Nilgiri teas are very hard to find outside of India.
We savoured our purchases for months back home. Our friends especially loved a black tea with cardamom pod mixture. So, in this recipe, we replicate the ratio of that blend and we add a little vanilla to meld all the flavours together.
In our opening post on Ooty, we shared a video with our local guide Nanjundan giving a tea talk. Admittedly, he was a little hard to understand.
So, we thought it’d be good to share our version of his talk here. We hope it helps you learn more about the world’s number one consumed beverage.
Most people don’t realize that though there are many different kinds of tea, they all come from the same plant – camellia sinensis. The amount of caffeine in tea depends on the amount of processing the leaves have had and the length of steeping.
The leaves of the tea plant contain an amino acid called L-theanine. The caffeine in tea binds with L-theanine. That bond between tea’s caffeine and L-theanine helps the tea leaves release caffeine in a slower, more prolonged way.
Coffee has more than double the caffeine and its caffeine is released in spikes. Tea’s smoother curve of caffeine release means tea drinkers are less prone to “crashing.” Rich in vitamins, tea contains B2, B1 and B6, and also potassium, manganese, folic acid, and calcium. There are just so many reasons to enjoy a good “cuppa.”
These are the most rare teas. And, their price reflects it. Picked when the leaves are just fuzzy little white buds, white tea is minimally processed. It is simply air-dried and fired at a low temperature. White tea leaves retain the most antioxidants.
Steep white tea for three to four minutes. The colour in the cup is usually a pale yellow. Pro Tip: Reuse the leaves for up to three to four steeps.
Picked when the leaf buds open and tiny new green leaves are formed, these leaves undergo some processing. Usually, they are rolled, pan-fired, steamed or twisted. Despite this processing, there’s a negligible decrease in the amount of catechin, the antioxidant most prevalent in tea.
Steep green tea for three minutes and then taste it every 30 seconds to your desired strength. You may be able to reuse the leaves for one to two more steeps but beware, steeping green tea too long results in bitter tea.
Oolong tea is green tea that is picked and then left to ferment for a few hours. This processing makes a darker tea in the cup. Steep using the same process at green teas.
This is the largest category of teas with over 4000 varieties. Oolong teas are predominantly the tea of Taiwan but are also popular in India when someone chooses to drink green tea.
Black tea is produced when tea leaves are fermented for eight to 12 hours. The result is a shriveled dark leaf. This is the predominant tea of India.
Steep black tea for four to five minutes if using loose leaf. But, only one minute if in a tea bag. This is the tea that goes well with milk.
These are not teas at all but rather infusions of herbs, spices or flowers and hot water that allows the flavour to escape as the leaves are rehydrated. When travelling in India, we are always delighted when served herbal infusions of ginger, lemon, and honey. And now, turmeric spice masalas are also becoming popular.
Rooibos (pronounced Roy-bus)
This is another non-tea. Harvested from the red Rooibos shrub in South Africa, these “tea leaves” are actually red evergreen needles. In South Africa, it’s simply known as “bush tea.” Rooibus is 100 percent caffeine-free and has 10 times the antioxidants of green tea.
Without further ado, here’s that recipe for Creamy Cardamom Tea. Happy sipping.