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Kangra Valley Tea: A brief history
“Kangra valley is a mystical land encircled by mystical places: Punjab, Jammu Kashmir, Lahul and Spiti, Chamba, Tibet and Ladakh. It is populated to this day by ancient clans, castes and races, the Rajputs of Rajasthan; the Gorkhas of Nepal; the Chambis, Kashmiris, Punjabis and the nomadic Gaddis, lanoline-infused goat herders who move seasonally with their flocks from mountain to valley in search of fresh pastureland. Such is the richness and variety of Kangra, a charming – and charmed – place!” extols Frank Miller a tea consultant, freelance F&B writer and photographer.
Situated in the northern parts of India, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, Kangra’s most famous resident is the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader. The region is also home to a large settlement of exiled Tibetans and attracts followers of Tibetan Buddhism. As a tea region, Kangra is seeing a slow return to former glory. While tea grew here in the late 18th century, earthquakes left the region and its tea gardens floundering for an inordinately long time. The Kangra tea is beginning to find its bearings among Indian teas and is fast growing in popularity for its high quality.
Kangra tea flavor profile
Often pegged alongside Darjeeling tea, what is distinct about teas from Kangra region is that they are notably less astringent compared to their famous counterpart. Also, it is the only tea region in India that grows Chinese or Indo-chinese hybrid tea bushes. The classic characteristics of Kangra tea emerge from the fact that they are farmed in an all-organic region of Northwestern India and in very traditional ways too. This is what makes Kangra tea notably grassy, mellow and subtly sweet.
The famed Kangra green tea
The tea that made Kangra famous through the decades is the Kangra green tea. This region was the main source of supply of green tea to Central/West Asia and Russia for the longest period. Some would go so far to say that these green teas are the best in India, largely driven by the nature of the bushes, the climate, and the long experience with making green teas. Standout features of the Kangra green tea are citrus-y and often nutty flavours, with very little bitterness.