Tea ennobled into Teaism,a religion of aestheticism, the adoration of the beautiful among everyday facts - Kakuzo Okakura in The Book of Tea.
Tea is indeed the cup of humanity and for humanity, one starts a day with it, its a break for the weary labourer, a busy mother uses it as a hiatus in a busy day. Busy executives commiserate over tea.Its truly a common man's drink (metaphorically). My dear wife Praveen survives on tea, tea is an important part of her life. She feels delighted to have a full tea service in our home, all with the silver service. Its often said Tea helps you go in the morning and come at nightt.Referring to the various medicinal aspects of tea. I was converted to tea a few years ago and over a period of time evolved as tea lover and Praveen considers this as one of her major achievements.
I now like all kinds of tea, black, green , white (yes white),Oolong Darjeeling, Assam, Sri Lankan, Kangra, Nilgiri,Chinese, Jasmine, Earl grey, Japanese, Kenyan and even the Dhaba chai. Actually for me it started with Dhaba chai which is CTC or tea dust, boiled to madness, with lots of milk, flavouring and sugar. Today I can tell fine tea from bad tea, like cheap whiskey from scotch and good wine from bad wine that's it, can't do better than that.
This story is about a warm afternoon 17 years ago, me and my wife Praveen went to a quaint store and tea shop in the unfashionable street in Daryaganj, Delhi. It was called Aap ki pasand. She had a Darjeeling tea served with two salted (Monaco biscuits) . I had an iced tea, I was then on a iced drink trip ( I thought hot tea was passe only to be had in the bush on cold winter morning to warm your hands and consumed to get a sugar rush).
I had to get back to relive the experience again, albeit 17 years later. I cannot yet say , I have measured my life in cups of tea consumed, Praveen definitely can. I enter, it looks plush, marble-top tables, rattan chairs, the air conditioning humming and an old rock-ballad playing in the background.The lady at the counter is from Manipur and isn't very helpful, she tries. The man brewing the tea, seems to be relatively an old timer and is alittle more knowledgeable. The whole place has a look and feel of an elegant British home parlour.
There is no menu, they encourage you to taste the tea you plan to buy, after a little back and forth, I order a Darjeeling. I try to calibrate my memory from a similar experience at tea shop called Glennary's at Darjeeling to compare the tea experience. I drink the tea elegantly served and absorb the experience and calmly meditate with the tea. I expect a warm flush and a feeling of well being, surprisingly there is none. It was there at the experience at Glennary's.
Mind trails to seventeen years ago, it was differentiated place to spend an afternoon with lady I was courting and now share my life with. Places have different meanings to different people. Aap Ki pasand contributes a chapter in our lives. In the past few years, we have bought their gift packs to be given as presents and in conferences. The revisit to the parlour rekindled all the memories.
Price for a cup of hot Darjeeling tea (with separate, milk and sugar) and the two signatory Monaco salted biscuits, Rs 50/-. Bingo again ! Well below my Rs 100/- mark. I plan to rejuvenate my interest and involvement with tea. Thanks to Mr Sanjay Kapur the owner of Aap ki Pasand.
Tea is truly democratic and egalitarian drink in India and is had in all forms, Gur Gur Chai in Ladakh (salted with Yak butter), Metre tea down south, Opium laced tea in Rajasthan and in the inner lanes of Chandni Chowk, the elegant tea service in the verandas of the Garden Party at the Imperial hotel at New Delhi. It is the cup that cheers.
So Long !