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For decades together, the only boutique outlets to buy leaf tea were Aap ki Pasand in Daryaganj and Mittal Tea House first in Sunder Nagar and then in Lodi Colony Market. If you wanted to drink a cup that cheers, you had to head to the nearest hotel and pay an inordinate sum for tea made with a tea bag, or find the nearest chai-wallah in a roadside stall or cart and stand on the roadside and quaff your tea.
That is all a thing of the past. Cha Bar, the first outlet to actually make tea the beverage of the cognoscenti, has a menu that consists of over a hundred offerings. The tea ranges from Assam CTC to Darjeeling, and goji berry infusions to Moroccan mint tea. It’s not just the leaf and its provenance, but the method of brewing and the ingredients that are added, which range from Kerala Ayurvedic tea to Kashmiri Kahwa. Add Japanese matcha and Chinese chrysanthemum, and it is no doubt that you need never repeat a tea for months together.
One wonders why the coffee bars preceded the tea bars by over a decade. After all, it is chai that is the beverage most of us have grown up with. So Chaayos has entered the market with inverse snobbery: quirky signages and tea in glass tumblers, where the add-ons like ginger, lemon, mint, pepper, cardamom and green chilli are what make the brand. Personalized tea is a way of life for us at home, and Chaayos has cashed in on that.
The other player, Anandini Tea, has approached the business from the trade. Young Anamika Singh uses her family tea estate in Kangra as the foundation and creates spice, floral and fruit top notes to create one of a kind blends that she showcases in her diminutive store in Shahpur Jat.