Tea and Me

A colleague’s post on Tea brought back some old memories.

I drink a lot of tea, at least five to six cups a day.

In typical Maharashtrian middle class families, I belonged to one, in my younger days, you were not allowed to drink tea till you cleared matriculation. Matriculation itself meant clearing 11th standard and not 10th like it is today. My mother showed how much she cared for me by giving me tea when I got up early in the morning while studying for 11th. My father was not in favour of my giving up milk, as a result of my new found love for tea, so a compromise was struck: I used to have milk with my breakfast!

Times have changed. All this sounds so hilarious now!

My Gujju wife brought Tea Masala with her from Baroda which was a novelty for us. Till then we were adding only ginger to our tea. When I visited Baroda she bought a small packet of Tea Masala. For those who are not accustomed to buying Gujju Tea Masala, let me inform them that it is quite an expensive thing. You buy just a small packet. Tea Masala became a regular on our shopping list, and my m-i-l often sent a packet for me.

As a student I used to take ‘Amiri’ chai which incidentally was the cheapest variety available at roadside thelas. One such thela was opposite KEM Hospital where we used to go every day morning while studying at Bombay Labour Institute. The thelawala added innumerable ingredients and spices in addition to tea powder, and strained it through a cloth that had turned black; one would have developed an instant revulsion for tea served there. But two things worked in thelawala’s favour, our shoe string budget and the test of tea which I must confess was perhaps one of the best I have ever tested.

A colleague, Mr. Banerjee, ‘Dada’ to all of us, introduced me to Green Tea. He used to buy an expensive variety which he would serve to people he liked, needless to say that it included me. Banerjee later shifted to Ankleshwar where they make tea – I just do not like it. One wonders whether he is making tea or Masala milk! So Banerjee’s Green Tea was a very welcome thing for me [and other ‘drinks’ were not easily available in Gujarat too].

My job often took me to Kolkata and Guwahati where one gets lemon tea. In the Park Circus office I have always enjoyed Lemon Tea; they add a touch of salt and lemon to black tea. It tests very well. I have since then stuck to Black Tea.

When I visited Colombo, I bought flavoured tea there. You can get tea with flavour of apple, cranberry etc. But my friends hated it! For them the refreshing Masala Tea was the right brew to begin the day with.

I have sometimes felt that you can classify personalities based on their choice of tea. I wonder if somebody has already done research in this area.