Tea sommelier Snigdha Manchanda has innumerable memories from sipping all sorts of tea around the city.
That’s probably why she enjoys hosting Mumbai Chai Walks that her company, Tea Trunk, started organising some time ago. As part of this tour, she takes a group of enthusiasts to three iconic tea spots, telling them more about the brews and their origins.
For this specific trail, we went a step further and asked Manchanda to help us put together a list of 10 such star stalls, bakeries or restaurants that every tea lover must visit — either for the quality of tea or just the experience.
If you love your tea like we do, this checklist might interest you.
Did you know?
Irani tea used to also be called khade chamche ki chai, because it was “traditionally supposed to be so sweet that if you’d stick a spoon in it,
it would stand straight. The original recipe used condensed milk, tea leaves and lots of sugar.”
Bandra (W) station
Where: Near the old booking office
USP: Regular brew
If you aren’t paranoid about eating at stations, chances are you’ve already sipped chai at this stall. “It’s near the stone arch. He makes a simple brew, with no ginger or any masala. Most people feel the tea isn’t fresh, but that’s not true. They do so much business that they have to keep making it fresh,” says Manchanda.
Good Luck Café
Where: Bandra (W)
USP: Sulemani tea
This café that is located opposite the famous Mehboob Studio in Bandra (W) has been known for its Sulemani tea for years. “Traditionally, the Sulemani is a post-meal drink because it acts as a digestive. Most people come here for the amazing biryani they serve and then follow it up with a hot cup,” says Manchanda.
USP: Sulemani tea
Students from St Xavier’s College and migrants from across the country are often spotted here gorging on the Irani cuisine. While most
people know about the Irani chai served here, it is equally famous for its Sulemani tea.
“It is traditionally black and is had with lemon. It is actually a descendant of a drink called Ghava. It is said that prophet Muhammad used to drink it,” she says.
Where: Nariman Point
USP: Masala tea
Everyone knows about the numerous tea sellers who move around Marine Drive and Nariman Point. But this seller, Harish, is a mysterious player. No one knows where he makes his tea, but every evening, he is spotted around Nariman Point with a flask.
Where: Horniman Circle
USP: Irani chai and fresh buns
This bakery has been around since the ’50s. Though there’s no such thing as a perfect time for a cup of Irani chai (anytime is the best time), you may enjoy it even more if you arrive around 4 pm. “That’s when they make fresh buns. The owner (third generation) has so many stories to tell,” she says. The bakery still uses a wood-fired oven for all their products.
Kumar Tea Stall
Where: Close to Fort
USP: Cardamom and lemongrass tea
Also located in south Mumbai, this stall is known for the special masala tea served here. What makes this tapri owner’s brew unique is the use of a fresh cardamom and lemongrass mix. “In terms of the quality of masala chai, I would pick this one as one of the best,” Manchanda says.
Where: The Taj Mahal Palace, Colaba
USP: Darjeeling First Flush tea
Apart from Tea Centre in Colaba, this is the only place in the city that gives you the option of ordering more than just masala and green tea. “They have more than six varieties on their menu. This is also the first time I spotted Darjeeling First Flush tea on it. Coming here used to be a treat for me,” she says.