Experimenting with tea: Your chai is no longer as you remember it

  • Akshay Kaushal, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 20, 2016 08:44 IST
Tickle your taste buds with aam papad chai. (HT Photo)

Feeling the monsoon blues? There’s nothing like a cup of hot tea to lift up your spirit when the rain-laden-clouds hover over the sky. And it’s not just the good old ghar ki chai that we are talking about. Chefs have let their imagination run free, and your favourite drink is now being paired with unusual flavours, aromas and textures.

Fruit packed concoctions, cigar flavoured tea, tea with a tangy pani puri spin – options abound for tea fanatic. Here’s what’s brewing the trend:

Fruit punch

Coconut tea served at TPot cafe. (HT Photo)

You can savour the flavour of your favourite fruit in form of tea. Fruit teamed with tea creates the most unusual flavours and aromas. The aromatic blends are rejuvenating and refreshing. Fruit tea is simple to make — black tea is added in simmering water and fruits pulps are added to the tea.

While mango, peach and apple are most people’s favourite, flavours such as jamun are a hit with those who don’t mind experiment. Some special preparations may take as much as two weeks before you can finally sip them.

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“For tea lovers, we have Jamun Kombucha (fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drink). “It is prepared with yeast which is incorporated with Jamun. The fermentation process takes about 14 days. Once it is fully fermented, the flavours and aroma is released. The taste is more on the sour side with a mild acidic smell,” says chef Nishant Choubey, executive chef, Kiyan, Dusti Deverana.

Some tea houses are also teaming up coconut with tea. This unusual take on tea is made with coconut water and black tea, flavoured with lemon and honey. The tea comes paired with soft coconut meat.

Spice up your evening cuppa

Lapsang Souchong served at Tea Trails. (HT Photo)

Teas are also being flavoured with spices such as ajwain (carom seeds) and star anise. These spices give them a distinctive flavour and aroma, and these teas are believed to have medicinal properties. Some have also come up with cigar tea. Lapsang Souchong, served at Tea Trails, has mild cigar flavour and aroma.

Tea to tickle your taste bud

Pani puri chai served at Brooke Bond Taj Tea House in Bandra. (HT Photo)

For those who love all things sweet and sour, there is a tea that comes in pani puri flavour. Served at Brooke Bond Taj Tea House in Bandra, Mumbai, this tea has a green tea base, which is spiced with roasted Jeera, black salt and sweet and sour notes heightened with the addition of tamarind. At Chaayos, there’s aam papad chai, made with crushed ginger, cardamom pod and dried mango, which goes well teamed with crunchy, monsoon-perfect snacks.

Tipsy tea, anyone?

Chai and rype julep served at Niche. (HT Photo)

What if the burst of energy in tea comes with a little more kick? Mixologists are infusing cocktails with tea to bring out the most unusual flavours. “Tea can be a lot of fun when mixed with drinks. I infuse masala chai with rye whiskey, an in house confectionary honeycomb and green cardamom to create a complex, layered flavours ,” says Matthew Radalj, mixologist, Niche.

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