Sipping a cup of tea along with genteel bites of sev puri, looking out on to the Gateway of India, while sitting at the prized window tables of the Sea Lounge in Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Hotel is one of the most aristocratic tea drinking experiences in Mumbai.
Or you can head to the Tea Centre at nearby Churchgate for a more affordable tea drinking session. This is owned by the Tea Board who hire out the premises to private parties to run. The feel is very colonial British club-like right to the little bells on the table to get the attention of the wait staff with. They have a range of teas and ice teas here and you must try the cheese chilli toast to go with them. The hot butter apple tea is an interesting drink to have with scones to take you to the world of Enid Blyton that you might have grown up with.
The XVII Tea Room at Bandra’s Pali Naka reflects the youthfulness of its owners. The price of the teas are on the lower side, and the ambience a lot more youthful than at Tea Centre and the Sea Lounge. The tea is served in a more casual manner. While they have a wide range of teas, the menu is limited to a few vegetarian bites. There is a young buzz to this tiny place and it is always pretty full.
The newest entrant in the world of tea rooms in Mumbai is the Taj Mahal Tea House which has quietly opened near Bungalow 9 in Bandra. Taj Mahal doesn’t have anything to do with the Taj Hotel group. It refers to the brand of tea from Unilever who have opened this restaurant-cum-tea room. It’s a beautifully done-up place with a colonial tea plantation house theme. Soft classical Indian music plays in the background. They have a range of teas such as Irani mint tea, kadi patta tea and so on made with Taj Mahal Tea. They also offer Darjeeling tea and some teas imported from the Orient. They bake their breads in-house and the brun maska with mango jam made in-house goes well with the Irani chai for breakfast. The black pomfret with tea infusion and mulligatawny soup make for a nice lunch. The menu is designed by French chef Gregory of La Poisson Rouge of Goa’s Baga.
For a city obsessed with coffee shops, there are interesting options that are coming up from the world of tea.
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Kalyan Karmakar authors the popular award winning blog, Finely Chopped and is an authority on the food of Mumbai. His extensive knowledge of the city's food scene has been featured in publications such as Femina, Mumbai Mirror and BCC Good Food. He was one of the founding critics of EazyDiner's Mumbai team.