Tea Lovers! This post is for you….
Don’t forget to catch the flavor of chalu chai !!!
Kullad Chai with Mathri
I got down at Central Secretariat metro station and chose to walk down to one of the upscale and international hotel of Delhi- Le Méridien. My watch read 9-20 a.m. but it wasn’t hot. Cool breeze constantly touched my face and I was enjoying my slow walk. Well I am a great fan of this part of Delhi which is mostly posh and green with lots of trees around. I saw some monkeys jump from one branch to another. There was hardly anyone on the road and lack of road activity proved that it was a silent Sunday. Aaah… there came the thought people must be asleep or enjoying their favorite ‘chai ka pyaala’- tea with a late breakfast. I am aren’t a tea person and on the other days I wouldn’t have thought of it but today it was just another day. I was headed to be a part of an interesting tea trail by Le Meridien.
As I walked past Krishi Bhawan, I saw the first glimpse of the tall and metallic facade looking towards the sky. It looked pretty and I just couldn’t resist clicking.
A few days back I had got the invite for the event and to my understanding the agenda of the day was crystal clear. We were supposed to do a tea trail to unravel Delhi’s code and connect with tea. 3 stops, 3 people and there was much to discover around the much loved beverage -Tea. The Green tea lover in me had found it very interesting and I was here all set for the day.
After exchanging the pleasantries at the hotel, sipping in some juice soon it was time to hit the road. We were a huge gang of journalists, bloggers, photographers and tea lovers and thus interactions just happened with the flow. We were given a band for the wrist and each one was asked to board a coach. As usual I loved Ragini’s company. The itinerary, bottle of water and a packet of Namakparas were handed over to us next. This meant ‘Chai’ would happen soon!
A few weeks ago during Ramadaan time, I had visited Dilli 6 to explore famous food and today I was back again for an interesting tea experience. Making our way through the lanes of Chandni Chowk, rickshaw ride was quite refreshing. I had only walked here, never done this before. Next time when you are here do try it out.
The first stop was Kailash Chand Jain’s shop. Seventy year old, this one has flourished to make a name for itself in the tea business. Now, it was the fourth generation which was looking into the dailies. They are faith healers too and have remedies for jaundice, Hepatitis B and C with 99 % success rate. Inside the small shop sat the two brothers with whom we interacted and learnt about how it all started. When Delhi was not even in love with tea, their ancestors had started to sell to make a living for themselves. Gradually, it brought in tea lovers and since then there was no looking back. All this while when we talked to Mr. Jain, two big and separate vessels of tea and milk kept boiling and tea was prepared and served to each one of us. There was a tin of mathri on the side which was served to go along with the chalu chai. Not to forget, the plate of almonds and saffron needs a mention too. A piece of it was added in everyone’s cuppa and it added a different flavor to the whole experience. The tea leaves were ordinary but the special masala which had nutmegs, cardamom, ginger, etc. did the absolute good to the taste.
Here is my kullad! The clay vessel reminded me of train journeys. My parents love to go for the kullad chai at the in-between stations and rarely are they satisfied with the taste. Will ask them to visit this place soon.
Now, it was time to head back to the bus and gear up for the next stop. We jumped back to our rickshaws and reached the parking area. In the bus, amidst the lovely discussions of tea we dint even realize that we had reached ITO. Well here we were supposed to meet Mr. Laxman Rao. More than the tea I was keen to hear is story. It was absolutely inspiring. The moment we got down and reached his shop, I felt goosebumps. He was sitting inside a small tea shop under the shade of a tree and next to it lay his books (24 he has written till date) for sale.
After serving us tea with biscuits, he chose to talk about his life. Yes, it got everyone’s attention and we loved every bit of it. A boy who had only studied till 10th reached Delhi from Bhopal to find a job. Started as a tobacco and paan-seller but gradually took to tea-making as his source of bread and butter. But he was here not to do this but write books. Inspired by Gulshan Nanda and Munshi Premchand, this foot-path based writer is lovingly known as Rao Saheb. As someone who dreams of holding my own book someday, his story was absolutely inspiring. He writes everyday, reads five dailies and then at around 1 comes to his tea shop. He has two sons, one who is doing an MBA and other CA. Yes, not just money, merit and hard work too earn us respect and honor.
When you around ITO, do go and meet him. He is very friendly and warm. I bet you will come back inspired. Don’t worry what to say, the tea will make the conversations happen.
Next, it was time to head back to Le Meridien where the tea connoisseur Vikram Mittal was around to help us with tea tasting and its appreciation.
We grabbed some really good lunch at Le Meridien and then went around tea tasting with Mr. Vikram. There was so much to take in and I can bet tea can just not be understood in one day. But yes I was surprised to learn that its vast area and tea tasting is no less than an art. The whole idea of tea tasting is to drink several tea and find your own flavor. Something that clicks instantly. Tea is a very personal affair. I have four people in my family and I know their tea habits are uniquely different from each other. While one wants it with milk, other with masala and third one goes for kadak (strong boiling). Last, I feel green tea is hassle free and over the years I have developed a taste for it.
I did not taste all five teas but two of them. Of course I could make out the difference instantly and found tea 2 better than 1st. After taking some real tea gyaan from Mr. Mittal, I decided to read more around tea and discuss with tea lovers. Hopefully there will be a post on tea soon.
Overall, a well spent day it was! Met lovely set of people and would love to say it was very well organized. I brought back with me lots to ponder over. Not to forget ‘chai toh ek khubsoorat bahaana tha’.
Hope you enjoyed the virtual walk-through the tea trail. Next time when you are having your garam chai ka pyaala, hope you are reminded of this blog post. To all the tea lovers, you must share the link.
The Kite Festival at Le Meridien is about to begin! Keep a watch!
Happy Exploring !