Lessons from the past – To the tea

Mark Twain once quoted ‘accident is the name of the greatest of all inventors’ and the past few posts in this ‘lessons from the past’ series are perfect testimony to that. After a bunch of interesting stories about the origins of chicken tikka masala, pepper and buttermilk  time to get to something that is quite the lifestyle essential for a large chunk of people around the world. Let’s talk chai!

Tea

Tete a tete with tea

 Drinking tea is such a routine part of our lives, we hardly even realize the importance of it unless we miss out on one of those early morning cuppa’s! It’s kind of cool that tea was accidentally discovered by a Chinese emperor some 4500 years ago, when he was boiling water under the shade of a tree and some leaves accidentally fell into the water, he tasted this and found it delicious. The word eventually spread and tea became popular under the name kia. The word for tea kept changing over the years as did the flavours, taste combinations and ingredients used with it. Tea plants that were already growing as wild shrubs in parts of Assam were developed into tea plantations by the British, during their rule in India.

India, as we know now, is now one of the largest producers of tea in the world. Today the types worldwide are innumerable – from the widely used Earl Grey tea to the Japanese Oolong variety to our very own Darjeeling blend, Tea is the most popular and most consumed beverage in the world. It is not just about the refreshing taste but also the benefits attached to it. Tea, especially herbal and green varieties contains anti-oxidants, builds immunity, increases metabolism and is known to reduce susceptibility to many forms of cancer. Its fabulous flavour has resulted in it being used to impart flavour in an array of sweet and savoury recipes. Tea has definitely come a long way since its accidental discovery.

Did you know like tea, tea bags too were an accidental invention? An American tea merchant created tea bags to give away samples of the tea to his customers, who found it simpler to just brew the tea while it’s still in the porous bag rather than the loose tea.

Tell us how you like your tea – leave a comment below.

Lessons from the past

After speaking about the origins of chicken tikka masala and the king of spices pepper, it’s time to get to the origins of one of my all-time favourite thirst quencher in this ‘lessons from the past’ series of blog posts – let’s talk buttermilk!

buttermilk

Nothing better than butter milk

Buttermilk is easily one of the most refreshing beverages you can ever drink and it is also one of the oldest. Ages ago, it was made more or less as a way to use up leftovers – when households in India and America realized that the residue water and little bits of butter left over after butter had been churned made quite a refreshing, delicious drink. What used to earlier be given to cattle and farm animals, soon this got really popular with the locals and after a point people would especially churn butter to drink the liquid left behind.

Sometimes the buttermilk was left out to set up with natural bacteria, thicken in consistency and become sour in taste to be seasoned with salt or sugar. This liquid began finding use in baked goods and in marinades.

Many years later when butter started being made with the help of machines, this liquid would often go to waste. But by then people had discovered the magic of fermentation and of yogurt, making buttermilk available for everybody to enjoy.

Over the course of time it has also had quite a few identity crisis situations – from the tasteless residue from making butter to the fermented tangy drink we know it as today. Buttermilk has come a long way and is indispensably used in the kitchen – as an important ingredient in baking, for marinades and also to get that crispy coating in fried food.

However my favourite avatar of it will always be in the form of the refreshing beverage that it is! I like my buttermilk with some black salt, a hint of roasted cumin, fresh green chilli and plenty of fresh mint and coriander. Preferably post a big lunch or dinner.

How do you like your buttermilk? Let me know in the comments section below.