This is an ode to chai, not tea, not green tea nor anything else. If I would be more specific it is an ode to adrak wali chai, kullad wali chai (chai served in a small earthen mug), the desi chai!
It is strange that up to my undergrad studies I kept away from tea entirely. It was sometime during my masters that I started drinking tea and the relationship just grew stronger with each passing day.
I can drink chai is all forms- Jasmine tea, herbal tea, black tea and everything in-between. I would not complain if I get to drink only these on some of my trips but if I am given a choice it has to be the desi, boiled tea with ginger and if possible masala. If it is served in a kullad all the more better!
When I was doing my Ph.D. Brijlal ji used to make tea in a small corner. His tea was quite popular throughout the institute. He was the most acknowledged person in our dissertations as well.
Then came this trend of what a friend used to call nash tea (nash in Hindi relates to destruction or generally used in sense of ‘no good’) or simply nasty. This is how chai made with tea bags was referred to back in late 1990s. I now drink a lot of nash tea at work because there is nothing else that is available.
For me tea goes well with hot milk. I have had tea served as a brew to which you can add milk, usually cold milk! Now that is not my idea of tea. But I will drink it still.
I have to make a special mention of Kahwa, the Kashmiri tea. It is made without milk but after chai I really truly liked it. That reminds me that my kahwa jar is over and I need to find my way back to Kashmir somehow.
And then there is tea that you get in the hills, the pahadi chai! I wonder what they add to it, or is it the weather that makes it taste so good.
My only regret is that I had to give up on sugar in my chai. I drink a lot of chai throughout the day and if I took it with sugar, I would gain even more weight. But I developed a taste of it now and I actually quite like it. I am actually surprised that it took me so long to write an ode to chai which I relish so much on a daily basis!
Long years of mess food and later, my own cooking killed most of my taste buds. So, I treat any food related activity with trepidation. When I heard from the good folks at the Paper Boat Drinks, I had pretty mixed feelings. They wanted to indulge my taste buds with their newly launched drinks whereas I fear that I have hardly any left! However what clinched the deal was they left it to me what I did, after I got the drinks. In the end I have decided to do a post because it is a cool drink!
I got the drinks just before I was leaving for Narkanda. So, I packed three of them in my bag. I was a bit worried that it might leak, as the name is Paper Boat! But no in spite of the name it has a sturdy packing. It arrived with me intact at Narkanda. And I call it a cool drink because to click the picture I kept it on the snow!
At home everyone has tried the drinks. Chhavi was quite excited to see the boats, she wanted to try every color! Her friend Drishti also liked it, in fact she asked for a second helping of the Kokum flavor. My father liked the Aamras. He was not too thrilled that it is priced at 30 rupees, rupees 10 above the normal fruit drinks. But then when he sold a house he still bought a 1399 rupees phone. He is the reason I have never bought an expensive smart phone, he has drilled frugality into us. When I tried to convince him it was worth the price, he grudgingly agreed. When my husband tried it, he told me, “this felt less artificial.” I too agree with him.
Both Chhavi and I are big fan of pani puri and we tried their pani. While I liked it for its sweet and sour taste, Chhavi prefers the hot green water. She was complaining to me that this pani was not tittu enough (full of chili).
After clicking the pictures I managed to finish all the three bottles at Narkanda itself. It must have tickled my nonexistent taste buds, cause otherwise I am not at all a cola or juice person. I can now see Paper Boat drinks stocked at the MG Road Metro Station shops. Let me see if Chhavi demands a drink when we head that way next!
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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