Travels around the country and conversations with people from different cultures leads to amazing insights about India’s rich food traditions. You would be surprised to know that there are some native produce which offer remarkable health benefits and, what is more, are incredibly flavourful. Wild Tea from North East India is one such gem that very few know about!
While tea is perhaps, the most loved, and definitely the most consumed beverage in India, the tea we are familiar with grows in picturesque gardens, all trimmed and well-tended to by the cultivators. Wild tea, on the other hand, grows naturally in the forests, untended by humans. These also belong to the Camellia sinensis species, however, they are found growing wild in the jungles of South Manipur. These century old trees can reach a height of 20 feet and are known to grow leaves that are bigger, richer and so much more complex than those cultivated in tea gardens.
Know the goodness they carry
Wild Teas, on account of growing naturally in a forest eco-system and without the use of chemical fertilisers or pesticides, offer a host of health benefits that are unadulterated and 100% natural. Besides being richer and more complex in flavour, they are also richer in anti-oxidants and more potent than the garden variety.
Then, there is also quite a variety to choose from - White, Oolong, Green, and Black tea – and they all have their distinct benefits ranging from anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to aiding in weight loss, building immunity, and many other studied benefits as well.
Fortified with superfoods
The wild teas are blended with potent indigenous ingredients which are only found in North East India. Lakadong Turmeric, Karbi Ginger, and Ghost Chilli are superfoods that have enormous health benefits. While turmeric, ginger, and chilli are common spices which feature prominently in almost every spice rack in every home, the specific varieties mentioned here are unique to the region and more potent. Let’s get to know the reason behind it.
Turmeric contains compounds with medicinal properties called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin. However, not all turmerics are created equal. Of the different variants, Lakadong Turmeric contains the highest concentration of curcumin – a whopping 7-12% as opposed to 2-3% in others.- and it only grows in Lakadong, Meghalaya.
Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Till date studies from around the world have found that curcumin can combat more than 70 maladies, including some of the biggest health threats such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginger is truly a superfood with its anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It has a soothing impact on the stomach and combats nausea. The beneficial components in ginger are gingerols and shogaols. Dozens of studies show that ginger may be anti-carcinogenic too.
Karbi ginger from Karbi Anglong district in Assam is GI tagged on account of its superior quality and medicinal properties. That basically means, ginger grown in any other place will not possess the same qualities as Karbi ginger!
Ghost chilli or Bhut Jolokia, as it is locally known, was named as the hottest chilli in the world in 2007 by the Guinness Book of World Records. The hot flavour of chillies is due to the presence of a group of Capsaicinoids. Most chilli varieties have a Capsaicin level of just about 1%, however, Ghost Chilli has higher content ranging from 2.45% to 5.36%.
Capsaicin found in Bhut Jolokia has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. It is rich in Vitamin C which helps stimulate the immune system. It can help raise metabolism and burn fat, thus, aiding in weight loss. Studies show that it is effective in relieving headaches and good for heart health too.
Experience the wild feeling
Prepare yourself a cup of wild tea and take in the goodness it offers. Brew them for your friends too and watch them savour every sip. You would feel the urge to recount their amazing origin – it’s a tale worth telling!