I still remember living in the valleys of Darjeeling when my father would take me around the tea factories in midst of the tea valleys and explain the working and the little details that went around to make tea.
I learned about textures and colors. And, good timing.
He would tell me stories about the people who worked there. How the factory was on all day, every day. The people worked in small shifts. They were a dedicated lot.
Their lives revolve around tea and the love for it. I hardly paid attention to the stories but what I still remember are those hardworking women, carrying the tea baskets in their head and picking up the fresh tea leaves, in the winter folds of the Himalayas.
There are two main stories of tea. One is the making of the tea and the other of the people whose lives revolve around it.
In a changing world, the quintessential chaiwallah tucked away in unexpected nook and cranny, is the only constant, where India downs umpteen cups of chai from dawn to dusk.
Storytelling sessions over a cup of sweet milky tea and cigarettes have come to be one of the most sought-after ways to spend one’s evenings.
Chai has become more than just a hot beverage for Indians; it is part of their lives and the very basis of their existence.
It is a conversation initiator, families bond over salt biscuits dipped in the sweet brown liquid and young students weave vivid dreams at chai tapris. And this trend is now slowly creeping in, crossing the threshold of the coffee-drinking cities.
Youngsters are waking up with the aroma of fresh dried leaves brewing in their kitchen. They are experimenting slowly with regional and ethnic tea cultures of the world.
From sipping onto the Sulaimani chai of Iranian Chai Bars to the simple Assam tea while standing near the Brahmaputra shore of North-East, there’s a plethora of Chai available to us nowadays.
While I a sipping a cup of hot steaming tea and listening to the old classic Bollywood music, I couldn’t save myself from wondering how every beautiful concoction of Tea has a story of itself.
How a cup of tea in England was the symbol of pride of a woman to the Moroccan tea being the signature drink of a warrior, the tales fascinate me so much. One can never ignore the grandiose feeling while sipping the fresh concoction of the Iranian chai in silverwares or sipping on the sweet lime Turkish tea in Cappadocia mixed with the wafts of Sri Lankan ethnic tea.
The classic etiquette of the 19th century slowly sips into your bloodstream while you feel the high of the freshness and the dosage of caffeine and you start flaunting your cup of tea. I love that rush of classic tea but if you ever ask me what kind of chai I always look forward to after a hectic day, I will always tell you about the Japanese Tea. This is not just a simple cup of tea but it’s a whole process of aligning your mind and body over a little cup filled with Matcha tea.
Whether it’s a “Chai and Sutta” session with friends or an English afternoon tea with pastries and pies, one will have memories etched in their mind vividly.
A teaholic day will keep all the tensions away.
So Be chaiful, Be cheerful
Stay Safe & Keep Brewing!!!