PHALAP - THE KEY TO A CULTURAL HERITAGE OF ASSAM TEA
The art of brewing tea is an age-old practice in the world. It requires an intricate and complex sense of flavour and precision. With tea being the most common beverage in the world, how well do we know the story of the brew in our cups? How often do we think about the process that goes into creating the flavourful liquor in our cups? Did you know that the oldest tradition of brewing tea traces back to the Singpho community in the Northeastern parts of India?
The Northeast states of India is home to the finest and age-old organic tea. The Singpho community in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam are the pioneers of tea brewers in India. It is also the home to the most complex organic tea - Phalap. Known for its smokey, aromatic and intricate taste, Phalap is one among the oldest organic teas in the wide range of Assam teas we have today. The brewing of the Phalap traces back to the 13th century BCE in the Singpho community in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Phalap simply means tea in the native language of Singpho. The leaves of Camellia sinensis, which we commonly call tea, were said to grow in tall trees and were collected around elephant backs to brew the native beverage for the guests of colonisation as a token of warmth and welcome. The tea leaves were fried and dried under the sun to extract the optimum flavour and then smoked in cylinders of bamboo to induce piquancy in the tea. This process helps with the long shelf life of tea which can last up to years and only gets better with time. This makes Phalap more flavourful than regular organic tea and is widely loved by tea lovers and tea enthusiasts around the world.
The Singpho tribes are recorded to be the pioneers of drinking organic tea, and hold the credit for introducing it to the world after the colonisers intervened to sell it to the other parts of the world. India is home to wide ranges of organic tea with many kinds of tea known to the world. But what we don't know is the cultural heritage and value a cup of tea holds. Just like how a cup of Phalap is the pandora to the world’s most ancient culture of a native tribe in Assam that traces back to centuries. The next time you drink tea, it might be your chance to know about the different cultural nuances that encompass the world.
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