For me there is no substitute for that hot cuppa in the morning. My day begins only after a couple of sips of this delcious brew. Tea has been the great equaliser. From the rich to the poor, everyone craves for that cup, no matter what the weather. Whether it is freshly brewed in your kitchen, or you sip it from the roadside stall, the satisfaction from that cup is unparalleled.
From the kadak cutting chai( half a glass) for Rs 5 at a roadside tea shop or a Orange pekoe at a Cha bar, or the quintessential Earl Grey or Darjeeling Tea at a five star hotel for a couple of hundreds, Mumbai has it all. What’s more Iced Tea, flavoured teas, ready-made teas, have all found their way into this cosmopolitan city.
Tea vendors abound in Mumbai and at any time of the day, evening or night, you can get a glass of tea. Somehow one enjoys that tea only in a glass, yes not the plastic one though. Bhajiyas, vada pav samosas, are other popular accompaniments with tea. Others prefer a Marie biscuit. Dip nahin kiya to chai kya piya? If a proper Enlish afternoon tea is what you’re after, you can head to the Resham Bhawan which has the Tea House or Cha Bar and savour it with sandwiches, pastries or scones.
Some like it dark, some prefer a golden colour, but all enjoy a hot cup. The regional preferences of tea are strong even in Mumbai. Bengalis love their Darjeeling or Assam tea and it has to be just right and brewed perfectly. I make my own cup as no one gets it right for me. It is surprising that a simple cup of tea can be made differently by each one and that’s the distinguishing factor.
Gujaratis cannot do without their “masala chai”. They love their tea with spices – cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg. It has to be boiled for a while and golden in colour. Hmm, the aroma is amazing. Many of them prefer their Mamri tea. Maharashtrians enjoy their cup strong. The tea leaves used are mostly the CTC or Dust variety. Punjabis like their tea with a lot of milk, yet well-brewed. Irani joints in the city also serve milky tea with lots of malai(cream). Bun-maska and tea here, is something only a Mumbaikar relates to.
South Indians of course are essentially coffee lovers but some enjoy tea as well. Many people have suddenly acquired a taste for lemon tea or green tea, which they prefer to sip all day long. It’s healthy and aids digestion too. I like mine with a dash of honey,
Such is the love for tea among Mumbaikars. Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai has an exciting tea menu and it is any tea lover’s delight. So popular is tea in Mumbai, that even coffee chains include tea as part of their coffee-driven menu.
The basic cup of tea has become modern too. Nowadays many flavours of tea are such as orange, chocolate, peach, lemon, are available. However, these teas have more of the flavour than the aroma of tea itself. Wagh Bakhri and Girnar have opened up tea outlets in some palces and these are quite popular. Their ready made masala and other teas are a great hot among bachelors in the city.
No matter what the new avatar of this beverage, I enjoy my cup with a decent amount of milk and sugar. Afterall no one knows tea better than Indians and Mumbaikars are no exception. They love their “chaha”!