Spice of life: Tea, the defining beverage of daily life

We are self-proclaimed connoisseurs of tea. At 10.45am, we meet in our vacant period at college and enjoy tea with home-made snacks, indulging in ‘chai pe charcha’

punjab Updated: Apr 04, 2018 17:49 IST
Ritu Kamra Kumar
Ritu Kamra Kumar
Hindustan Times, Punjab
Spice of life,Tea,beverage
There is nothing quite as tranquil as a nice hot cup of tea(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“When your day seems topsy-turvy and as stormy as can be, there is nothing quite as tranquil as a nice hot cup of tea”. India is land of chai, chaha or just cha! It is part of Indian ethos, an art, or culinary skill, unabashed love with brewing activity in kitchens daily.

Entertaining over tea has been a legacy of our colonial past. Enid Blyton wrote, “Afternoon tea was launched by the Duchess of Bedford in 1830.” Jane Austen’s novels are famous for the elaborate tea sessions as she wrote with pride, “I would rather have nothing but tea.” An English tea included savoury canapes but the most common items are bread and butter, scones, muffins, crumpets, cakes, biscuits, jams and jellies. Now the charm of tea has gripped almost the entire world. There are tea-serving boutiques that offer high tea options.

We, a group of friends, are self-proclaimed connoisseurs of tea. At 10.45am, we meet in our vacant period at college and enjoy tea with home-made snacks, indulging in ‘chai pe charcha’. A chai-tapri is one of the many things over which our friendship grows, our intellectual discussions run, and our trivial trifles get resolved. Sitting on the rooftop balcony of the college café, sipping tea, partaking of the colourful panorama of the college’s spacious ground teeming with vibrant and versatile youngsters, we sing joyfully, “The teapot is on, the cups are waiting, favourite chairs anticipating, no matter what we have to do. My friends, there’s always time for you.”

Tea can be enjoyed anytime between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner over tell a tale. There is a wide variety to choose from, from Darjeeling to Earl Grey, herbal to green tea. High tea is about getting a taste of assorted snacks and sweets, steeped in the romanticism of a venerable Victorian chapter. Everyone’s cup is different. Every household, every nukkad, every tea house, has its own aroma and recipe yet the neighbour’s tea is always good enough, if not brilliant, for making tea is not everyone’s cup of tea.

My morning tea is at the top of my favourite things. Yes, I love the rite from the sense of anticipation as I have my tea brewed with freshly ground spices and add milk in precise measurement, drinking it with the morning newspaper in my cushioned corner; that first sip, the sheer nirvana, is like going to the puja (prayer) room, feeling energised and exalted, a refreshing experience, a rejuvenation of the senses.

I have been fortunate enough to run into several people for whom making tea is a celebration and a ceremony, be it my husband or a fellow traveller or my sister Anu who calls it ‘nectar’.

Tea is not just a beverage, it is a force binding us together. The very act of raising our cups to the lips, the aroma, the steam obscuring our views and the slurps form no less than a symphony. All this tea talk has made me crave for a cuppa. How about you? ritukumar1504@yahoo.com

The writer is a professor at MLN College, Yamunanagar

First Published: Apr 04, 2018 17:45 IST