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!