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It is tea time across the world. A dazzling array of teas is making its way to dainty cups of connoisseurs. Not only are tea salons offering the finest brew with notes of flowers, ripened fruits and citrus blooms, restaurants are offering extensive tea lists which give a big thumbs up to premium tea leaves sourced from estates across India and the world. Even as tea sees a huge upswing in popularity, restaurants and cafes are ditching the tea bag for a luxurious cuppa. So, cleanse, detox and heal in style by sipping on the golden brew this season.
You cannot go wrong with The Imperial if you are craving an upgraded tea experience. Tea varieties on offer can vary from half a dozen to over a hundred here, including some very rare and obscure brews. Taking a cue from the season is the Autumnal, a tea redolent with notes of flowers, ripened fruits and a subtle long-lasting aftertaste. Adding a sophisticated touch to the tea repertoire is The Silver Tips Imperial, that is plucked on full moon nights, and highlights the Darjeeling terroir. Capping the tea experience is the Crystal Flush, a signature tea that’s inspired by ice wines, and has a cooling effect on the palate.
Exotic is the watchword for the Floral Tea range at Olive Bar & Kitchen. A mind-boggling variety of blooms are pressed into use to extract rejuvenating flavours that not only calm the senses but also possess a therapeutic character. For instance, a slightly tart tea called Hibiscus petals is a natural source of vitamin c, where hibiscus flowers are steeped in water for a deep red herbal infusion. Similarly Lady lavender is an earl grey tea that flaunts tart citrus notes, mixed with the fragrance of vanilla and lavender. The restaurant menu also lists a herbal tea category, which boasts of varieties such as Chamomile tea and Peppermint tea. In a departure from regulation flavourings for your favourite cuppa, the restaurant recommends that you use its lacto-fermented syrups, organic honey and almond milk to take your tea experience to the next level.
Cha Bar, which first opened its doors to the tea connoisseur in Kolkata in 2000, as an extension of the 90-year-old Oxford Bookstore in Park Street, now has a pan-India presence. Today, Cha Bar outlets are present in Oxford Bookstores in cities like Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.
Top-of-the-line teas are the order of the day here and you can choose anything from flowering teas, organic teas and herbal teas to diet teas and fruit teas. Sharing space with them is a wide array of Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Sikkim and Oolong teas, as well as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Moroccan, Russian, Sri Lankan, South African and Thai teas. In a nod to its moniker, the tea menu lists more than 150 varieties of the golden brew, which patrons can sip on while rifling through their favourite tomes at the bookstore.
Food hall AnnaMaya, which is big on locally-sourced ingredients, stocks up on tea from four companies. Although all the four brands (read No.3 Clive Road, Teaneer, Himkhadya and Himalayan Haat) are available for retail, it serves tea only from No.3 Clive Road at the food hall. You can take your pick from exotic varieties from the label, including blends like Aurangzeb, Madhurai, Maheswar, Malabar, Ayurvedic, Jaipur, Kashmiri Kahwa and more. Try the Aurangzeb Blend, a mix of Assam black tea, cardamom and ginger, that’s accompanied with floral notes coming from the perfume of rose petals, jasmine and marigolds.
The Tea Lounge
The Tea Lounge in Bikaner House is also reimagining the tea domain with its global range of teas. Ther is the Jasmine Lotus, a flowering tea that is served in a teapot. These are Chinese artisanal balls of fragrant, jasmine-scented green tea that are rolled and tied by hand. The tea leaves encase a vibrant pink amaranth flower which is revealed upon infusion, as the tea leaves open out to resemble a lotus blossom. Another scene stealer here is the Oriental Sencha which has green tea, mango and papaya extracts for a fruity flavour and sweet aftertaste.
Susmita Saha is a Delhi-based Features Writer. She has worked as an Assistant Editor at India Today and The Telegraph and writes on arts and culture, films, travel, food, architecture, design and various other lifestyle subjects. She has seriously itchy feet and plans to tick the world off her bucket list, one burger at a time.