There is beer in Germany. There is Scotch in Scotland and there is tea in England and China and many other countries. There is tea in India too. Unlike European countries, where perhaps beer is considered to be the drink of baptism, in our subcontinent, a cup of tea/coffee occupies the same role. In Kolkata, the ‘Bengali Bhadralok’ has always been very selective – to an extent, finicky – about their cup of tea. They are strong loyalists to their particular stores, from where they make it a long drawn affair to get different blends mixed and packed. The newer generation is definitely not as conversant in the ‘blending business’; however, it is not that they do not appreciate a good cup of tea. The proof of this lies in the success of a number of fancy, top-end tea joints/lounges in the city, where one can pick up some of the rarest, premium and innovative tea blends.
The Dollys – One of the best tea blenders of her times, Mrs Dolly Roy has run a small outlet in the nook of Dakshinapan market complex for last 28 years. Her speciality lies not in just offering some 50 kinds of tea preparations, but also in making available the rarest tea blends for sale. Her tiny den, with its rustic ambience, is a perfect station for a short chai break and to ponder over issues of life with friends and foes. Most often, the place is filled up and you may need to wait for your turn.
The Tea Lounge (The Lalit Great Eastern) – Located in the heart of the city, the lounge has newly opened to cater to the tea-loving populace. Apart from a vintage ambience, this place offers you an exotic tea experience with a menu ‘box’ which enables you to actually feel the tea and take your pick. You can choose from over 30 varieties of tea from the finest tea estates. Two of distinct offerings here are the silver-tip tea (which is a rare and unusual variety of tea) and the Great Eastern Darjeeling tea from the Goomtee Tea Estate in Kurseong made exclusively for the hotel chain. A food menu comprising European as well as Bengali snacks completes the tea experience and is totally worth the price paid.
Flurys – This iconic tea room with nearing 90 years of presence in Kolkata is now an important landmark in the foodscape of the city. Famous for its Darjeeling tea and its breakfast menu, a lazy English breakfast looking through the large window onto busy Park Street and people passing by is an experience that never loses its charm. If you are a cake-and-pastry lover along with being a tea lover, you can’t miss out on this place.
The Tea Trove – An unusual yet cosy ambience is what strikes you as you enter this place. It offers a large variety of hot and cold teas, and an equally exhaustive list of food items to choose from. Apart from its speciality, with numerous of tea flavours, this place is also a favourite for its hookah and board games that make it a perfect hang-out space.
8th Day Café – This place is as good with its tea offerings as it is with its coffee. In addition to the good food, the friendly staff and a playful ambience do good to lift your spirits. The tea menu comprises some authentic and traditional tea types, ensuring you a relaxing stint here. The golden-tips blend comes across as an unusual offering, but the others are equally enticing and soothing.
For someone who's run two restaurants, being a baker and cook par excellence comes easily to Madhushree . When she's not eating out, she's organizing her own pop ups or experimenting with regional recipes. Her experiments with food and her recipes are part of Pikturenama , where she's a co founder.