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#998 | Indian TEA (a.k.a CHAI )  

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Welcome to India – where each of the 1 billion odd people will be addicted to tea ( popularly called chai) or as in the case of IT sectors coffee (their cash surplus allows them a richer beverage)
Come 4 p.m. and everyone’s eagerly waiting for their cup of tea – cutting chai as popularly known in Mumbai. Offices have a chai-wala (person who sells tea desk to desk) come with his tiny aluminium kettle which surprisingly has tea enough for a hundred people! And if you notice, pan India, it’s the same aluminium kettle. Be it rains or summer or winter, the aluminium kettle goes along with all seasons. If not a chai-wala, then there are those numerous chai – stalls again very popular among college students and those small offices where people find a getaway and a place to unwind. Of course, this chai ka pyaala(cup of tea) is often accompanied with paav vada ( Indian burger ) or samosa or bhajji! At home, all the home makers prepare tea for themselves, as if it’s the start of the day. It helps them “look forward” to the rest of the day! Infact “high tea” is a commonly used term in India in which social events take place. Families now prefer inviting their guests for high tea inorder to save the extra workload from dinner / lunch! Shop keepers will eagerly be waiting for their chai at around 3:30 – 4 p.m. Infact so much so, that chai addicts get headaches and irritation if they don’t get their cup of tea. Its not just their cup of tea if they bunk their tea time!

That’s chai time – when little poor children run along the platform of train station shouting chai chai chai in their typical accent; the many addicts who will do anything for their cup of chai; and the amazing social bonding that happens over cup of chai. Like the advertisement goes “ tata tea… dimakh daudega nahi, bhagega…. Tez bahut tez!”

As if the variety in brands were not enough, tea comes in variety – just like coffee – from black tea to half paani tea(half water) to full doodh (full milk)tea to sugar free and extra sugar to masala chai to flavoured chai from different parts of the Himalayas! There always must be Parle G glucose biscuit or Marie Biscuit accompanying the afternoon tea. Morning tea is another topic by itself. Ridiculously, no two people have tea of the same type. Each have their own style of making tea and especially critical is the water / milk content in chai. Sugar should and must be served separately to guests to avoid the fuss over “how much sugar you have!”

India produces and consumes more tea than any other country in the world, including the famous Assam tea and Darjeeling tea.The cultivation and brewing of tea in India has a long history of applications in traditional systems of medicine and for consumption. The consumption of tea in India was first clearly documented in the Ramayana (750-500 BC).

Today, India is one of the largest tea producers in the world, though over 70% of the tea is consumed within India itself. A number of renown teas, such as Darjeeling, also grow exclusively in India.
Chai – the most loved beverage, yet the most fussed over beverage.

An Indian Tea in making!


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