Cuppa tea? How about a bottle with a bit of fizz in it?
Tea as you know it has emerged in its new avatar – cola – after almost a decade of experimentation. It was launched on a trial basis at Tocklai Experimental Station (TES) in Jorhat town, 303 km east of Guwahati.
The excuse, though, was the three-day World Tea Science Congress that marked the centenary celebration of TES, the world's oldest and largest tea research centre.
"This tea-based soft drink launched on a trial basis comes in half-litre bottles and is being marketed by a local firm. With a shelf life of six months, the tea liquor based non-carbonated soft drink contains permissible flavour and would be promoted as a health drink," TES director Mridul Hazarika said.
He added: "This tea cola is targeted at the younger generation."
"It's a nice drink, but it should ideally come in tetra-packs to attract youngsters," advised Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
According to Ranjit Chaliha, CMD of Green Gold (Assam) Pvt Ltd, the formulation of the tea cola was ready for quite some now.
"But our venture to produce it commercially started three months ago," he said, adding the commercial launch of the tea cola would depend on feedback from scientists who converged from 14 countries for the Tea Congress.
Earlier, inaugurating the Tea Congress, former president APJ Abdul Kalam said tea deserved to be India's national drink by virtue of its popularity.
"India consumes 22% of the world's tea production after all," he said.
Tea industry captains have been seeking the national drink status for the beverage, pointing out that 850 million kg of 980 million kg tea produced by India (2010 figure) is consumed domestically compared to a third of 300 million kg of coffee that the country produces.
Gogoi, meanwhile, said his government has started the process of elevating tea as Assam's state drink.