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Musings on Tea

Posted on Trivia -The Spice of Life on 27/11/2021

Anybody who is not working from home would at once appreciate the importance that a cup of tea or “chai” has in the larger scheme of things. It is this beverage that keeps many going. For some it is a diversion, for others an addiction. For still others, the time spent over a cup of tea with a colleague is the best part of the day in office. And what bliss, if (occasionally!) the prefix ‘high’ gets appended to ‘tea’. A sumptuous fare to munch along with a steaming hot cup of tea is delectable.

Of late, a lot of variants of tea have started appearing on our tables. Post the COVID-19 pandemic, drinking herbal tea, which is almost akin to the kaadha that is made when one has a cold has also come into vogue. But to my mind, these variants only masquerade as tea; nothing can replace tea that is made in the conventional (Indian) manner by boiling water with tea leaves and a dash of ginger, adding milk and sugar and filtering it. Those who are fond of cardamom can add that as well. When tea is made in this fashion, filtered and poured steaming hot into a nice porcelain cup, it can give all its fashionable cousins a run for their money. Also, this is where tea scores over coffee, as no flavouring agent (ordinarily) is added to coffee. But, with tea one is spoilt for choice.

The most awful kind of tea that one can have is the ‘tea bag’ tea or ‘dip tea’. By the time the flavour of the tea leaves diffuses into the milk, not only does the tea go cold but your patience also gives way. And then, there is the added trouble of precariously placing the soiled tea bag on the saucer even as it is still dripping. I have myself struggled trying to do this! I also remember how an uncle of mine would get me a box or two of tea bags from office. The first thing I would do after he left was to rip all the bags and pour their contents into an air tight tin!!

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An analysis of the average time taken for the tea to be served in your cabin by the canteen boy, after the order is placed, can help you strategize, especially if somebody is paying you a second visit. The canteen is just 50 metres away from my cabin. Yet, each time I place an order for tea, it makes me wonder as to how the canteen boy manages to go to the tea plantations of Darjeeling and come back with tea leaves in just half an hour. Thus, this delivery time of half an hour is what I use to my advantage. The best way of driving away an unwelcome visitor on his second visit is to courteously insist that he have a cup of tea. If he has already waited for half an hour the first time for that elusive cup of tea and has exhausted all the topics under the sun that can be envisaged for polite conversation, he is sure to be on his two at the mention of the word ‘tea’!

So as you (hopefully) enjoy my musings on tea, I shall sign off and drink to the lees (like Ulysees), my cup of tea made in the conventional fashion but delivered in good time. The half an hour tea is reserved for office.

4 thoughts on “Musings on Tea

  1. Anitaji,

    Enjoyed reading this post. You have been consistently coming up with nice write-ups on various topics, which are relevant and part of our day-to-day life. Quite appreciable!!

    I am fond of both tea and coffee. But, nothing can replace the pleasure of enjoying freshly made hot masala chai and adrak chai on cold and rainy afternoons, like the last couple of days in Mumbai.
    This has been an unusual climate change here.

    Being a Mumbaikar, one has grown up in the company of cutting chai from various chai-ki-tapris at various nakas. For medical students and resident doctors, chaiwallahs outside the college and hospital have always been a boon and a much desired spot for recharge.

    I do agree with your views on tea bags though they remain an option while travelling and especially going overseas.

    The frustrating part is being served insipid tea from tea bags in restaurants and coffee shops of 4/5 star hotels in India!!
    Often they get you a kettle of hot water with tea bags dipped inside and sugar and milk by the side.
    And the price you pay is actually for using the ceramic cups or the porcelain!!


    1. Thanks, Dr.Deshpande! The Mumbai weather has indeed become quite bizarre. The yearning for adrak chai has increased.
      As regards the five star tea experience one could just say उँची दुकान फीका पकवान (फीकी चाय?)!!


  2. Anita,
    You are quite a tea-romantic. I am sure if you travel to China or Japan, you would be rushing to their Tea ceremonies, rather than their tourist attractions. I am not quite a tea person, therefore, I passed that up. As usual nice writing.


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