I’m off for a road trip, and I’m super excited! I take out my Enfield, wipe the dust off it and fix this machine for the next day’s rough roads it’ll be battling. The bike needs to be set up with the grills and holders for the basic back packs and extra fuel will be carrying for the next two weeks, along with one tiny thermos that’ll keep fuel for me to keep going on those really terribly cold mornings when hands go numb and the face pale.
5 am: I make myself a cup of tea. Simple to make, half a cup of milk and half a cup of water boiling along with tea leaves and sugar, a little hint of Tulsi leaves to add personal touch to it. The sun still hasn’t come out so it’s dark and there’s a thick cover of fog that’ll keep me from speeding on the empty roads. It will also give me a chance to stop by sleepy dhaba on the roadside to share a cup of ‘chai’ with the trucker’s lazily getting ready to start their day.
Image Credits- IBS blog
And this is how the story of chai begins for people who enjoy traveling. For most Indians for that matter, tea is something you can absolutely not survive without. Early morning tea, afternoon tea, evening tea and the bedtime tea! Lots and lots of tea are for a lot of Indians for their happiness and daily functioning without a fuss. I remember not finding food to eat on one of my journeys but always finding tea!
A rainy morning and our favorite thing to do is have tea! Well now we all know that the key to us Indians hearts is a cup of yummy tea. We can judge you on how you make tea but please don’t judge us for that! It’s the truth, tea really is a magical invention that was brought to India by the Britisher’s but now we are a true tea kingdom as the largest consumers!
Image Credits- The Tea Horse Caravan
There are innumerable brands and types of teas in India and in 2013 tea was declared as the national drink too! Even more, passionate tea lovers have taken to tea plantations and growing different types of teas. Tea is their life and they strive to create awareness on how to enjoy your little cup of happiness! Let me put down for you a list of tea’s that you must have often come across during your travels but never would have explored, the tea you drink defines you too some say!
MASALA CHAI…LIVING THE CITY LIFE
The Indian standard Masala chai is a combination of herbs and spices, now this is one tea that you absolutely don’t mind asking for while traveling. It is refreshing with a tinge of specific taste of the Indians galore! Every dhaba will serve it whether you like it or not. The poshest of restaurants will offer this tea in their fanciest of menus. It’s a pure Indian touch to drinking a hot beverage, the desi style!
Image Credits- Jesse Jacobs
LADAKHI TEA AND MOUNTAIN LOVERS
Famously known as the butter tea due to the dollops of butter and salt in it, it is known as ‘Po Cha’ locally. Now don’t be very literal about the name resembling something you clean floors with, no! The Ladakhi butter tea is as yummy as anything authentic that can be to the region. Full of nutrients and proteins this tea was made for providing energy to the passing by traders who took the high altitude Himalayan routes. Sip a small round cup of magic as they serve it with love and care to you. Walk in a remote monastery where monks start their early morning prayers. Little monks flipping and flopping passing giggles to you offer you some tea. Don’t refuse it, take a cup and enjoy being enchanted!
Image Credits- Lobsang Wangdu
GREEN TEA FOR THE SMART!
Gaining sudden popularity in the past few years, green tea had been mainly consumed by the Chinese after their meal. But these days, it’s pretty much in fashion to consume green tea by the elite. Let’s not forget the actual benefits of this tea and the amount of myths it brought with itself during its popularity. High in antioxidants, it cleans up your system and eases digestion, there are myths that consumption of green tea lead to weight loss but that has not been proved to be true. So do not be afraid of trying different flavors of green tea the next time you come across a chance to. Sri Lankan cafes serve a large variety of flavored green tea's that are a must try! cherry, apple, grape, lemon and what not!
Image Credits- Healthyfig.com
Darjeeling TEA FOR THE WRITERS…
A Chinese tea that tastes like French grapes with the whiff of the Himalayan air; it is frequently called “champagne of teas” as it often tastes like that than tea. Darjeeling tea gardens are famous all over the country and every year they provide for a large production of tea leaves. No doubt it isn’t an Indian original, it is taken without milk but you can still enjoy its refreshing taste. Pick up a book, stroll down to the nearest book cafe, sip Darjeeling tea and gaze at the vast landscape of mountains in front of you.
Image Credits- aroha bahuguna
KASHMIRI KAHWAA & SOLITUDE.
The first time I sipped this tea, which the very instance became my favorite tea, was a night ride to some floating little shack of a grocery shop in some corner of the Dal Lake. The rower of my 'Shikaara' insisted I try that shops tea. I still am grateful for that frail man for his taste in tea; otherwise I would have never discovered a tea so delicious. Kahwaa is prepared solely out of herbs and spices, along with very little tea leaves and boiling water. The taste of cinnamon, almond, and saffron along with a little honey for sweetness is so overpowering that you will never be able to fall out of love with it. I’ll put for you a romantic foreword. The fall of night made the entire lake absolutely still. The tourists had long gone to sleep in their house boats; this was probably the only 'Shikaara' floating on the lake in which we sat, crossing the waters that looked like velvety black waves being swooped over with our hands cupping the little container of Kahwaa. It was magic in a teacup and I instantly fell in love with it.
Image Credits- Emaho Magazine
SPEARMINT TEA FOR EXPLORERS!
An exquisite Moroccan tea, this one’s got you going fresh all day long. It never fails to charge you up on a bright sunny morning when you’re looking for some inspiration around. The Desi version of this type of tea is going to be simply boiled water with a little honey and mint leaves along with a normal tea bag. Easy to make and easy to carry as well for all the tea lovers, and a personal favorite!
Image Credits- Lane Richeson
BLACK TEA ANYONE?
No sugar, no milk! We usually are not fond of this kind of a tea but the health conscious buddies around do prefer this every morning too. Black teas easily accessible everywhere and even the most random Dhaba can get you this too! This right here friends, is an energizing strong cup you’re indulging into.
Image Credits- Guy with a random thoughts
TEA BAGS RULE!
Do not shy away here from admitting that you’ve once in your life carried teabags and milk sachets with you when you’ve traveled. Now I can relate here a lot since my mommy dearest hates milky tea and I’ve grown up keeping teabags and powder milk sachets separately in my suitcase for her! There had been times when we even carried our own thermos to make tea and keep it going when we drove to quirky destinations and didn’t know how we’d survive! Tea bags are saviors for those addicted to tea. Every morning we need tea, every evening we need tea, whenever it rains we need tea, whenever we have a headache we need tea! Tea is everywhere and it’s an inseparable part of our lives!
Image Credits- Roger Zeigler
With tea comes endless hours of storytelling. Tea is for those who like to indulge in strength and dare to try something new. The love for tea brings love for exploration, tea lovers are easy adjusters and calm people. Next time you go on an adventure. Note the number of times you’re drinking tea, and the number of times you come across dhaba that wouldn’t serve anything but tea. You can find it on the mountains, you can find it near the sea… if somebody asks me how I take my tea I reply, ‘seriously’ I take my tea ‘very seriously’!
Image Credits- Faux Pas