In India, at any given time of day, there’s always time for Tea. Whether you are visiting someone’s home, a shop, at a hotel, you are always offered a modest sized cup of black tea called “Chai” infused with cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and milk. Depending on the region in India, the spices that they use may vary. In 2013, Chai was declared “India’s National Drink“. This pastime gives insight into Indian Culture that differs dramatically with that of the west. Taking time to relax and slow down for tea VS the constant on-the-go American culture of grabbing Coffee to-go and hardly being able to be stay in the present.
The Chai Walla
At practically ever corner in India, you will be able to find a tea stall “Chai Walla”, costing around 20 rupees (and that’s a hiked-up tourist price of 30 cents). You are invited to pull up a small stool from the cart and sip before your next destination. It is quite refreshing and known to have major health benefits.
chai / CHī/
It’s no coincidence that India is the 2nd largest producer and exporter of Tea, just behind China, consuming 30% of the Global Output. Tea from the Assam and Darjeeling region are among the most popular. As a result, India has an enormous amount of Tea Plantations that is a must-do on your visit to India. Spend a few days at a Bed & Breakfast Guesthouse where you can go tea-tasting and learn how they handpick quality tea leaves!
..And now you could probably guess where the British got their habit of Black Tea with Milk!
Just another Chai Afternoon Story
On a City tour I took with my guide Ravin Mathur just after exploring the Mehrangarh Fort, he cordially invited me to his cousin’s house for a cup of tea. I excitedly accepted the invitation as visiting homes are almost always a favorite part of my Travels. We entered her beautifully blue-painted home, located in Jodhpur’s Blue City, as she greeted us at upon entrance and welcomed us in. (Shoes off of course before any Asian household!)
Grandma and the little daughter was home while the men were out to work. That is usually the case and 3-4 generations live in one household (or complex) as well as extended families (auntie’s, cousins and uncle’s families).
Chai, as well as meals, are almost always made fresh which takes a minimum of 10-15 minutes to brew fresh tea leaves (I rarely see Tea Bags), to ensure the fresh spices are infused into the flavor of the milk tea, also known as Masala Chai. In the mean time, we were served with snacks, and relaxed in her living room / grandma’s room. Ravin and his cousin caught up on family gossip and the latest news as I relaxed and explored their beautiful home.
We relaxed for half an hour, enjoyed our savory cup of tea and bid our farewells and appreciation to Ravin’s cousin for the warm hospitality. Off we go shopping in the Sardar Market.
Until the next cup of Chai..