Sharmi on the Trot

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Archive for the tag “Tea Drinkers”

Review: Teacupsfull – All For The Love Of Tea

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Different teas from Teacups Full

My earliest memories of tea have all to do with those old Victorian china cups on dainty saucers. As adults sipped their morning and evening teas, I’d be enamoured by the fresh smell. When I’d ask for a taste, I’d be repeatedly told it’s a drink for ‘grown ups’ and a glass of hot milk would be thrust towards me. But as a bonus, I’d get a Marie biscuit (found in all Bengali households) and I’d be overjoyed, forgetting all about the tea I’d actually wanted. I would happily dunk the biscuit into my hot milk and would watch for that precarious moment when it softened enough to be able to melt in the mouth, but not too much as otherwise it would fall into the depths of what I imagined was a gigantic glass.

As a child growing up with a father in the tea business, I’d remember the visits when the pater would come back from the gardens with different types of leaves to be consumed over the next few months. First Flush, Second Flush, Orthodox, CTC – the terms would be as alien to me as physics still is.

As I grew up, drinking tea in the morning became a routine. A hot mug of tea (the dainty cups can only hold so much) and I’d be all set for the day. But the older I’ve gotten, I’ve come to understand or appreciate the taste of tea that’s brewed well. Today the tea cupboard overflows with containers that store different leaves and for me to be able to function, I need a giant mug in the morning. The type of leaves that I brew depends on the mood.

As a food blogger and reviewer, I’m happiest when I get to try out products which are close to my heart. And when the product is absolutely on point, you feel so good that you want to be able to express your overflowing emotions. I recently got the chance to review Teacupsfull and just absolutely loved the product. As a tea lover or a novice who wishes to be introduced to tea, I’d definitely recommend buying from Teacupsfull.

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Seven teas to taste from Teacups Full along with an instruction card

Teacupsfull is a family-run venture, a family who has tea running in their veins. They bring to the market loose leaf tea. The best quality tea is sourced from gardens in Bengal, Assam and Sikkim and packaged with care for consumers. They have a great variety and you can choose what tickles your fancy. Green, black, white, organically flavoured, CTCs for the people who can’t do without their masala chais, Teacupsfull has them all. And best of all, their teas are accompanied by cards which are very informative about the brewing process, the time needed and of course additions which should or should not be used.

For a novice tea drinker, do invest in a good tea pot. Theres’s nothing more inviting than a freshly brewed pot of tea with little cookies (A very Bengali tea-time thing!).

I tasted a wide range of teas from Teacupsfull and was delighted with them all. The leaves are superior in quality and when brewed, smell fantastic. The tasting is the next part. Just keep in mind the brewing time because otherwise the bitterness leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

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White tea in a white cup, but of course!

The Moonlight White Tea (above) is exquisite in taste. The golden colour warms your heart and the slight sweetness uplifts your mood. I’d suggest having it without milk or tea because otherwise the additional sweetness will overpower the delicate taste.

The Organic Sikkim Black Orthodox has a rounded woody flavour. From the Bermiok estate, the leaves have a very distinct taste and it’s best enjoyed when brewed about 4 minutes. I prefer my teas without milk but do add if you like your tea that way.

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The leaves from Bermiok in Sikkim have a distinct flavour

The High Elevation Darjeeling Black is a prized first flush. The colour isn’t black unlike what the name suggests and the taste is slightly floral. Do not add milk to this tea! You’ll ruin the taste completely!

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The prized first flush

The Assam Gold Orthodox is your typical breakfast tea. The one you’re used to consuming in the morning for years. I prefer not to brew it too strong, though you can. Brewing the leaves for about 3 minutes makes it strong enough for me, though the father would strongly disagree!

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Your typical breakfast tea, strong and flavoursome

The Cinnamon Green is blended with green tea leaves and cinnamon. The pale yellow colour and strong smell of cinnamon makes this a very healthy option because of rich anti-oxidants.

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Just what’s needed when reading The Little Prince for the umpteenth time.

The Darjeeling Green Pearl is organic in every way possible. The light colour is soothing as is the floral flavour but what I love about the pearls is the unfurling! Yes, very childish I know! Do not have milk with this tea, maybe just a bit of honey and steep the pearls for about four minutes.

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The pearls unfurling is the best part.

For all masala chai lovers, fret not. Teacupsfull have their own blend of Assam CTC with aromatic spices. Add milk to your hearts content and savour the taste every morning. The flavour is strong with the spices but on a rainy day when you decide to bunk work on a whim, it’s best accompanied with homemade pakodas!

Check out more products from Teacupsfull here
Pocket pinch: Depends on the type of tea you wish to purchase
Product rating: 5/5

Review: Tea Trails Café in Connaught Place

White tea served with a tea timer and details

Green tea served with a tea timer and tea details

For some, tea is passion. For some, it forms the very core of their being. Unable to function sans the morning cup, unable to think straight without that specific cup of chai with the mixture of cardamom, clove and ginger, tea becomes a way of life.
For Kavita Mathur, the co-founder of Tea Trails, tea is sheer passion. “I took a sabbatical some years ago. During that time I read up about tea. I visited places and realized tea is huge is other countries. We wanted to take the tea experience to another level in India and with our past expertise in franchising, we (with husband Uday) set up Tea Trails in Mumbai in 2013,” smiles Kavita. The name has grown across India with the aim to have many more such outlets across the nation by 2020.

Burmese tea salad paired along with white tea

Burmese tea salad paired along with white tea

Attention to detail
I visited their newly-opened bistro in Connaught Place on a weekday evening. The location is absolutely fabulous in the heart of the city. What impressed me as I stepped inside was the set up. From the pale green and white combination of colours to soothe the eye to dark polished seating, Tea Trails has got it spot on.
As you sit down, the smiling server offers you a welcome drink. With over 80-100 combinations of teas, coolers and chais on the menu, one has a lot to choose from. I loved that each tea is accompanied by a little note which explains the origins, brewing time and how best to drink it. And, their sampling table is perfect because one can decide on what to take back if one wants after tasting the various flavours.

The sampling counter

The sampling counter

Kavita Mathur

Kavita Mathur

Re-invention, re-discovery
The aim of Tea Trails is to re-invent the popular beverage. To get more people to rediscover tea. Tea Trails believe in pairing tea with food, with the use of leaves in many preparations. “It’s almost as if one pairs wine with food, we pair teas with food,” Kavita adds.
As a delicate white tea was served alongside a delicious Burmese Tea Salad with olive and sesame oil dressing, it paired beautifully with each sip. The balance of the leaves and the flavor was perfect.
Making tea is not an easy task. It depends on the quantity of leaves used, the temperature of water, the brewing time, the quality of the leaves and from where it’s procured. Tea Trails have tied up with tea gardens in Darjeeling, Assam and the Nilgiris to give the customers an authentic experience, alongside procuring leaves from different parts of the world.

Kashmiri Kahwa

Kashmiri Kahwa sans sugar

Delicate white tea

Delicate white tea

Another view of green tea from Kashmir

Another view of green tea from Kashmir

Too many varieties
For the first time I tasted Kashmiri Kahwa without oodles of sugar dissolved in it. It was beautiful. And it pair gorgeously with the olive and green tea bruschetta. My favourite was the smoky Lapsang Souchong from the Fujian province of China. The buttered apple tea was interesting as was the Red Zen tisane. The word tisane always takes me back to Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirit who loved his sirops and tisanes!

Olive and green tea bruschetta

Olive and green tea bruschetta

A cup of smoky Lapsang Souchong

A cup of smoky Lapsang Souchong

Eggs Kejirwal, a deelish Mumbai favourite

Eggs Kejirwal, a deelish Mumbai favourite

Masala chai with lemongrass washed down with Bombay vada pav

Masala chai with lemongrass washed down with Bombay vada pav

Red Zen tisane!

Red Zen tisane!

My suggestion would be to go and check out this new café at your earliest. It’s pocket friendly and has something for all palates. Including filter coffee for the non-tea lovers!

Ambiance: 4/5
Food and beverage: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Where: Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Bangalore, Visakhapatnam

Review: Chaayos – Experiments with Tea

The humble masala chai with a lot of twists at Chaayos!

The humble masala chai with a lot of twists at Chaayos!

Bengalis are very particular about tea. Forget wanting to conquer territories, if the morning cup is not hot enough, the quantity of milk and sugar are off by a minuscule or the right blend hasn’t been used in the process, Bengalis are ready to go to war. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration but being a Bengali myself, if I don’t have my morning cup the way I like it (let’s just keep it in the singular. I won’t scare you with my daily intake!) the day starts off wrong and my colleagues know it’s better to keep away.

Recently invited to review Chaayos, I jumped at the opportunity. How could I not go to a place which is literally, all about tea!

Hauz Khas Village is always busy. Shoppers, eaters, artists, groups of friends, couples… everyone finds something to do. Making my way up to the first floor, what struck me first was the quiet. The music playing in the background is not too loud, perfect to be able to have a conversation while the rustic décor keeps with the theme of tea-lovers coming into a place specially made for them. Add free wifi to the mix and you’ve sold it to chai-holics.

Combinations and Permutations

As established, I’m willing to run a mile for good tea, Chaayos is my kind of place. It brings out the absurd love I have for tea to the surface. Every tea is made fresh from scratch and can be suited to your taste buds. For example, the simple ‘chai’ can have less/more milk, less/more/no sugar, enhancers like ginger, tulsi, cinnamon, cardamom etc can be added and discarded as per taste. 25 varieties of tea can be customized in over 12000 ways. Yes, you read it right! The added attraction of unusual flavours such as Hari Mirch (Chilly), Rose-Cardamom and Aam-Papad make this chain a must-try.

Hari Mirch chai packs a punch.

Hari Mirch chai packs a punch.

Outlets Can Be Found…

Currently, Chaayos has 22 outlets in Delhi NCR and Mumbai. There are plans to open 100 by the end of the year across India. The cities in mind are Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore. Opening overseas is also in their expansion plans. From high-end stores to to-go outlets, Chaayos is successfully catching the 21-40 age-group customers. Many I met later told me they’ve become regulars! (There is a high possibility that I too will join that club).

Fresh Food and Pocket Pinch

Not only did I enjoy the different types of chai but fresh and tasty food was also on the mark. The Sicilian Chicken sandwich and the Mutton Lazeez Kebab wrap are delish. But what I enjoyed most was the bun maska, a chai essential. They not only serve the normal sorts but also flavoured bun maskas! And the best part about all of this is the affordable pricing. An average cost for 2 would be around Rs 500.

Yum food to munch on. Chicken and mutton

Yum food to munch on. Chicken and mutton

So, what are you waiting for? Go alone with a book or laptop for work, with a group of friends or with that special person. Chaayos is definitely worth your time if you live, breath, think tea!

Bun Maska with Honey Ginger Lemon tea

Bun Maska with Honey Ginger Lemon tea

Rose Cardamom anyone?

Rose Cardamom anyone?

Ambiance: 4/5
Food and beverage: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value for Money: 5/5
Where: Across Delhi NCR and Mumbai

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