This year, tea cafés and restaurants across Mumbai are offering up alternatives to your regular cup of chai by experimenting with tea-infused dishes and cocktails.
“Tea is very versatile and can be infused into vodka, sorbets or salad dressings,” says tea sommelier Snigdha Manchanda. “Much of the recent experimentation with tea has to do with people’s desire to explore the world of tea beyond chai.”
This season, try quirky new ways to feast on your favourite beverage.
# Cooking with tea
* Masala chai popsicles (see above image)
Ingredients: 500 ml full-fat milk, 4 tbsp loose leaf tea, 250 gm condensed milk, 1 tsp agar agar, 200 ml whipping cream. For chai spices: 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 2 inch piece cinnamon, 3 cloves, 5 whole black peppers, 3 cardamoms, 2 inch piece thinly-sliced ginger.
Method: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat milk, tea leaves and condensed milk to light simmer. Set aside. Add all spices and allow to steep for 30 to 40 minutes. Strain mixture and put in a fresh pan, on heat. Add agar powder and whisk until completely dissolved and mixture comes to a light boil. Remove from heat and strain again. Allow to cool to room temperature and fold in whipped cream until uniform. Place mixture in popsicle moulds and freeze overnight. Serve with crushed cookies and jaggery caramel.
Available at: The Bombay Canteen, Lower Parel (Dessert created by artisanal ice creamery Sucres Des Terres)
* Laphet thoke (tea leaf salad)
Ingredients: 1 tbsp tea leaf paste (laphet), 75 gm lettuce, 50 gm cabbage, 1 medium green tomato, 8 cherry tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic sliced, jalapeños or green chilli as required, 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds, 1 tbsp broad beans, 1 tbsp roasted peanuts, 1 tbsp spicy chana dal, juice of half a lime, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt as required.
Method: Combine all the above ingredients in a salad bowl and toss gently with hands. While serving garnish with sesame seeds.
Available at: Burma Burma, Fort
* Smoked tea pizza
Ingredients: 1 whole wheat pizza base, 3 deseeded, blanched and chopped tomatoes, 20 gm chopped onion, 15 gm chopped garlic, 1 small garni (bouquet) of Darjeeling black tea, 10 ml olive oil, 5 gm salt, 2 gm crushed black pepper, 10 gm basil, 5 gm oregano, 75 gm Mozzarella cheese, 2 gm Lapsang Souchong tea
Method: In a pan, heat oil and add chopped garlic and then onion. When the onion softens, add the tomatoes. Sauté for a while and add stock or water. Add the tea garni and simmer for an hour. Remove garni, season and cook till it gets a sauce like consistency. Spread this sauce on the pizza base, sprinkle cheese, basil and Lapsang Souchong. Place in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Available at: Tea Trails’ outlets at BKC, Malad, Mulund and Thane
# A tea trail
* Summer Tea
An orange vodka-based cocktail with black tea
Ingredients: 2 ounces orange vodka, 90 ml black tea, 90 ml sour mix, wedge of orange (if available) or lemon
Method: Add the orange vodka to a long glass, mix in 2 tsp of tea leaves (or 1 tea bag and steep for 8 minutes). Let it cool. Add sour mix. Stir. Garnish with orange or lemon wedge.
Available at: Light House Café, Khar
# Want to stay teetotaller and try chai with a twist? Here are our recommendations:
Vanilla black tea with mango and strawberry jelly & Chilled masala chai with tapioca
Where: Dr Bubbles Chai Specialist, Bandra
Cost: Rs 150 for small, Rs 180 for large glass
Orange spiced black tea with cinnamon & Red Zen herbal tea with hibiscus, orange peel, lemon grass and lavender
Where: Tea Trails outlets at The Capital Building at BKC, Hypercity and Mindspace in Malad, Viviana Mall in Thane and in Mulund.
Cost: Rs 95 for both
Call: 4005-0115 (BKC) or visit Teatrailsindia.com
Banana caramel black tea
Where: Tea Centre, Churchgate
Cost: Rs 155
Spiced guava flavoured black tea & Lychee vanilla black tea
Where: The XVII Tea Room, Pali Hill, Bandra
Cost: Rs 120 for both
# Sip on this: Looking for a kick? Add some tea to your cocktails:
Tea Toddy: A hot drink with black tea and dark rum
Ingredients: 10 ml honey, 70 ml applejuice, 15 ml caramel syrup, 150 ml hot black tea, 45 ml dark rum, 1 cinnamon stick for garnish.
Method: Muddle the cinnamon stick in a shaker tin, add caramel syrup, apple juice, honey and stir well. Add hot tea, dark rum and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Available at: Serafina, Fort
Istanbuli chai: A Scotch cocktail made with lemon tea
Ingredients: 30 ml Scotch, a cup of water, lemon tea, 1-1/2 spoons of sugar, juice of half a lemon, mint leaves
Method: Fill a glass with Scotch. Heat one cup of water, dip in the lemon tea bag and wait for a minute. Mix in the Scotch, sugar, squeeze in half a lemon and garnish with 4-5 mint leaves.
Available at: China 1, Bandra-Kurla Complex
Dry Martini a La frog: A dry martini with tulsi tea
Ingredients: 15 ml dry martini, 45 ml tulsi tea-infused gin (to infuse, add tea powder to the gin and let it steep for 72 hours)
Method: Stir the two in a martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel.
Available at: blueFROG, Lower Parel
Mr Grey: A citrus-flavoured cocktail with Earl Grey
Ingredients: 60 ml of vodka infused with Earl Grey, 20 ml elderflower cordial, 15 ml fresh lemon juice
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and serve in a frosted margarita glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or edible flowers.
Available at: Woodside Inn, Colaba