Rather than go head to head with the marketing machines of the big boys, the Parle group sold Thums Up to Coca-Cola in 1990. The labels of the two colas might seem similar, but Coca-Cola Classic and Thums Up do actually have quite distinct flavor profiles.
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My knowledge of alcohol from India has so far been limited to Kingfisher beer, which quells the spice from Vindaloo at my local Indian restaurant, and Amrut Fusion, a tasty whiskey made with Indian and Scottish barley. But my lack of knowledge isn't because I don't venture out from sips I'm already familiar with. As I learned from the seminar on Indian spirits at last week's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, it's because only half of local Indian spirits find their way out of the states they're produced, let alone to the United States.
Though the tea-growing lands of India are (for better or worse) synonymous with household teabag brands nowadays, tea is still a relative newcomer to that fertile part of East Asia. Darjeeling tea, which has found a foothold in both the highest- and lowest-brows of the tea-drinking market, only began to spring from the Himalayan soils of West Bengal, India, in the later half of the 1800s, at the hand—yup—of a seed-smuggler just back from a trip to China.
From the most tea-producing region in the most tea-producing country in the world comes Assam tea, a sultry, malty black tea among India's most famous. Discovered in the early 1800s growing wild in the tropically warm and wet Assam region at the edge of the eastern Himalayan mountains, this indigenous tea is versatile enough to have been planted throughout Asia, proving extremely prolific, easy to grow, and able to be harvested frequently.