My life revolves around my family, my goals and strong brewed cups of chai. All major decisions, ideations and discussions happen over tea. Even my travel itineraries have more chai pit stops than actual places that I intend to visit. A headache calls for chai, a bad decision definitely needs chai, a good decision is celebrated over chaya, you get my point here, don’t you?
After #TodaysChaya picked up pace on Instagram I questioned my knowledge of tea, this got me reading more and I had to share the information I collected, with you all. Let us refresh whatever we know: 1) China is the largest producer of tea in the world, India comes second. 2) The British East India Company popularised tea drinking in the country. 3) Chai tea latte by Starbucks is an abomination, it is either chai or tea.
Let us get into the real deal.
Tea, which is thought to have originated in the southern slope of the Himalayas was first harvested in India by the Singhpho tribe in Assam. While reading this piece of information is when it struck me that my friend Mimie’s name is Hkwansan P Singhpho, I had to text her immediately. She confirmed this to be true and also added that their community is in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and in parts of China and Myanmar. The people of this tribe traditionally had tea after every meal as it aids digestion. The Singhpho chief was the one who had introduced the Assamese variant of tea to the Englishmen. The British (who acquired the tea drinking habit from the Dutch and ultimately from the Chinese) realised that the indigenous variety outgrew the Chinese tea due to better suitability, they had to produce more of it as for the British working class, tea was the powerhouse of caffeine and calories that kept them going throughout the day. What we are talking about here is black tea, without the addition of milk.
States like Gujarat, Maharashtra, and West Bengal were the ones with the abundance of milk and are said to be the ones who added milk to the brew. Other states would have contributed to the other forms like Adrak Chai, Elaichi Chai, Lemon chai etc.
The South was a coffee drinking region, Chai was mass marketed here by the British. Coffee (Filter Kaapi) is still a key beverage in Kartanaka and Tamil Nadu while Kerala, Andhra and Telangana boasts of their variants of tea.
India has so many unique kinds of chai. You walk through the lengths of this country and you will come across so many forms of of this refreshing drink. The Noon chai from Kashmir with its pink hue due to the addition of baking soda, The Po Cha from the Tibetan foothills made of Yak butter, the Irani chai which was gifted by the Zoroastrian community which is extremely sweet and milky, the Sulaimani made with the addition of elaichi, cinnamon, and lime to the brew, the famous cutting chai of Mumbai which is nothing but half a glass of tea but enough to keep your emotions towards the lovely city in check. There are new options emerging out of the creativity and marketing skills of chai walas , such as Tandoori Chai, Kulfi Chai, Dancing tea, Biriyani Chaya and more.
I am looking forward to the day when I get to pack my bags to do a ’Chai walk’ covering all different kinds of tea India has to offer. My family being very particular about how we like our cup of brewed goodness, Amma has in time developed a special way to make it. I am kind enough *cough* to give the recipe to you:
Recipe for Chai:
Milk – half a glass
Water- a little less than half a glass
Sugar: As per taste
Tea Leaves: Tata Tea – Golden Leaf
Add water, half the amount of required tea leaves and sugar into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Add milk, once it boils, lower the flame. Add the rest half of the tea leaves and bring it to boil again on low flame. Once done- serve hot, but do not forget to do the metre trick to bring the heat down. The froth of top of the Chaya makes all the difference. Enjoy 🙂
Also here is a list of my top 10 favourite tea spots in Thiruvananthapuram: (in no particular order)
1) Chai Chai: Kowdiar and Mall of Travancore
2) Kuravankonam Chaya kada urf Dakhani Deg
3) Chinthya tea stall at Shastamangalam urf Chandran chetante chayakada
4) Old Coffee House, Shanghumukham
5) Sree Ganesh Cafeteria, Thycaud, opposite police ground
6) Chai Roti, Upper Meridian Road, Kuravankonam
7) The lime mint ginger tea from Good Morning hotel, Kunjalumoodu
8) Annie’s Samosa point, Kowdiar and Kesavadasapuram
9) Edaneram, Bakery Junction -Vazhuthakkad road
10) Ambalapattu Restaurant, Pattom
\\ Happy International tea day, loves. I hope you are having a good cup of Chaya while reading this.\\