Like coffee houses, tea rooms too are witness to the growth of India through the decades.
“These are spaces that contain within them much of the artistic, political and cultural heritage of the post-1947 settlement in India,” eminent American photographer Jill Freedman once famously said, as these joints, used to house secret meetings of freedom fighters, intellectuals, and artists of British India.
Indeed, for most Indians a day is incomplete if it doesn’t start with a cup of tea, the most widely consumed beverage of the world after water. It has come a long way since Indian Independence. From being a catalyst of several nationalistic movements in Kolkata to becoming the first choice of college students and professionals in Bhubaneswar, the beverage has undergone a lot of changes too.
So much so that Rama Pradhan, the owner of Ram Bhai Tea Cenre at CRP Square in Bhubaneswar, now serves more than a hundred varieties of tea to his customers, with prices ranging between Rs 25 and Rs 100.
It is not just Ram Bhai, there are quite a few popular tea stalls in this City that lure the tea lovers.
This International Tea Day, Sunday POST caught up with owners of some of the admired tea joints and a tea enthusiast to learn about the tea craze in the city.
Cha Biscuit, a utility hangout for young nature enthusiasts at Anandabazar Chhak of Unit-9 area, is the first eco-friendly outlet that offers Kulhad Chai and food in biodegradable packages. Their major variations include Masala Cha, Lemon Tea, Keshar Tea, Red Tea, and Malai Tea. The tea joint also serves as a bikers’ hub, where they launch and finish their journeys.
The proprietor of the unit, Subrat Das, also an advertising professional, says, “Apart from my profession, I am a rider at heart. Bike riding offers loads of joy and roadside tea complements it. Realising the importance of tea for the riders, I decided to open up a tea café for the traveller and adventure lover in 2017”.
Cha Biscuit gained prominence from the beginning, and now it is known as a riding hub in Odisha. “We were the pioneers in serving tea in Kulhad in Odisha in early 2017. Now many tea stalls are following in our footsteps. It gives me immense pleasure that I have taken a little step to avoid single-use plastic for the betterment of society,” said Das.
He says, gifts of nature need to be cherished. One such gift is eco-friendly Kulhads with an earthy scent and feel. These natural gifts are being lost in the competition of modern cafes. Offering one’s favourite beverage in environment-friendly Kulhads and protecting the environment at the same time is a service towards society and the rich culture of Odisha, adds Das, claiming that they never go for tea with artificial essence.
Sharat Sahoo, entrepreneur and owner of Tapri Time at Chandrasekharpur, is a free spirit having background in hotel management.
He has always been fascinated by the art of hospitality and the joy it brings to people’s lives, says Sahoo.
Expressing his happiness with his profession, he adds, “I find the greatest joy in serving a variety of teas to customers. I believe that a well-brewed cup of tea can create moments of comfort and relaxation. I take pride in my ability to curate unique tea experiences; introducing people to diverse flavours and helping them discover their preferences.”
Throughout his career, Sahoo has claimed to have honed his skills in creating the perfect tea blends, understanding the subtleties of different tea leaves, and ensuring that each cup is crafted with precision.
“I find great satisfaction in witnessing the delight on people’s faces as they savour the flavours I serve. My love for tea and my desire to create a cozy space for tea enthusiasts to unwind and savour a delightful cup of tea led me to establish this unique venture,” he recalls.
Tapri Time, located in the heart of a bustling city, quickly became a popular destination for tea connoisseurs and those seeking a respite from their busy lives. It has the best Malai Cha and Special Cha, according to a tea lover and frequent Tapri Time visitor, Sanket Behera.
Sujit Mohanty, an assistant professor at National Institute of Fashion Technology, says, “Tea, brought to India by the British, is not just a regular drink. It has a wonderful smell and a comforting taste that can make people talk about many things. Whether it’s casual chatting with friends or serious discussions about important national topics, tea helps start meaningful conversations. In our diverse country, tea brings people from different backgrounds together without any difficulty. It goes beyond differences and helps people feel connected, creating a friendly and supportive atmosphere. Truly, tea has a special power to bring people closer in a unique way.”