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Updated: December 15, 2013 17:44 IST

Tea is getting hotter

NEETI SARKAR
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Kettle to kullad: Sip your chai and make a health statement
Special Arrangement Kettle to kullad: Sip your chai and make a health statement

December 15 was International Tea Day. With many health benefits and a whole smorgasbord of flavours, tea is gradually finding an important place

Tea is the new coffee; People opt for tea as it is a healthier option; The increasing number of flavours of tea is what allures people

They say a lot can happen over coffee but if you take a look around you and notice not just the tea shacks and stalls but the umpteen upmarket tea joints/cafes that are burgeoning in and around the city, it can safely be said that tea has now become a well-accepted social drink. Today is International Tea Day and MetroPlus takes a look at how the tea industry is blossoming and brewing in the city.

According to Jeeva Geroge owner and founder of Gluten Free Living in India, “Tea is calming and coffee is okay but does not suit me. I get a headache if I drink too much coffee. I am very Indian in my taste of tea. I like strong masala tea and grind my own spices most of the time. As the day progresses I have lemon tea, chamomile tea and sometimes ginger tea. I find tea very calming and relaxing unlike coffee which always keeps you alert.”

For Chirag Yadav who initially worked as an engineer for a good four to five years and had also been a full time Salsa instructor for a year, over an interesting late night Old Monk brainstorming session, he came up with the idea to start Chaipatty, then as an activity centre that would offer dancing, photography, pottery and bartending classes on a workshop level. He recounts, “I wanted the name to be reminiscent of the first thing that comes to people’s mind which was of course ‘chai’, the first thing in any part of India to be consumed in the morning as the day starts for us. It was an activity centre carried on for a year, but one fine day I got questioned -- ‘How come you are called Chaipatty and don’t offer chai?’ This got me thinking and I opened my first tea cafe in 2010 and we soon became a chain of tea cafes or as we call it ‘Chaipatty Teafes’.

Bikash Parik, Founder and Owner, Green Theory, who contends, “Apparently tea is the new coffee as it is one of the highest consumed beverages after water. Our guests at Green Theory thoroughly enjoy the variety of teas that we offer. The trend of drinking tea is picking up, especially given the awareness and the lovely weather our city has to offer. Our guests frequent us and are fond of enjoying a warm cup of tea along with a snack or two in the outdoors. The favourite teas are Masala Chai, Citrose Infusion, Jasmine Tea, Green Tea, Kashmiri Kawa, etc.”

Ask him what it is about tea that is attracting a whole lot of people including youngsters, and Bikash responds: “Basically the awareness of the health effects and its properties is attracting a lot of people towards tea. With people focusing on anti-oxidants, weight loss, anti-cancer (especially green and black tea), reduction in the risk of heart-attacks, hydration, stress busters, etc, the trend is all about encouraging youngsters to start consuming tea on a daily basis. Also not to forget, the taste is an important factor why a lot of people drink tea. ”

Chirag adds, “Even big coffee brands are entering into the tea model. Starbucks now also has acquired the brand Teavana when it could have just carried on with being the World No-1 Coffee brand. The same is visible in the fact that consumption of tea has grown by 150 per cent causing prices of imported teas like Rooibos increasing 200 times and also new varieties coming from Japan and China, still though not beating the super top Assam Tea.”

He adds: “Today, I do see people really enjoying their tea at almost any time and medically too, the health benefits that tea has is now more transparently known to people who have brought in their preferred variety at home and definitely consume it properly. Coffee is of course good and won’t get replaced but when you think of tea, it is a top level remedy for providing anti-oxidants to people suffering with cough, cold, sleeplessness, diabetes or even cancer to a certain extent. It’s accepted internationally and definitely easy to store and prepare.”

Looking ahead, owner and founder of Infinitea, Gaurav Saria (they’ve opened a new outlet in Indiranagar recently) predicts, “There will be more people taking to tea. Green tea with all its health benefits will remain the top choice. But then at Infinitea we offer eclectic flavours like Cranberry and Apricot where the real fruit is used and we don’t use any artificial flavours or essences. That said, you cannot expect tea to completely take over coffee because the former is not a commercial drink. It has largely to do with the mindset and lifestyle of people and cannot be commercialised the way coffee is. ”

With so many varieties of tea brewing, it looks like tea drinkers have so much more to look forward to!

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