Eating outA new hangout in town where you can enjoy gossip with some tea

“Why does a lot have to happen only over coffee?” asks Poonam Shah. “A lot more can happen over tea,” says this 28-year-old, who is one of the proprietors of ‘Chai and Gupshup', a new tea parlour based in R.S. Puram. Nestled in a corner on Sambandam Road (East), this venture was started by Girnar Food and Beverages Ltd.

The sweet, floral fragrance of tea once you enter the store is uplifting. A host of other smells – those of spices, chutneys and toasts being grilled – tag along with it. As you get comfortable with the menu on the orange couch, you can't help feeling you are somewhere in North India.Masala chai,elaichi chai, kharibiscuit, thepla,samosa,chivda… the list of snack items and teas is long. There are grilled sandwiches, cold drinks and coffees too. But it's thechai andnashtathat walk away with the prize.

I sit down togupshupwith Poonam, and order avada pavand achai zaffrani. While Santosh Agarwal (who also runs a small chat shop adjacent to the building) pats thevada on thetava, Poonam informs me that this has been her dream for quite some time now.

Growing up with tea

“My father has been in the tea business. I have known Hemant uncle (one of the directors of Girnar and the other proprietor of ‘Chai and Gupshup') since childhood. I grew up listening to conversations about teas,” she says. When she grew up, she decided to be a bidder in tea auctions. “In the middle of an auction one day, Hemant uncle asked me if I would join Girnar. I initially refused.” But four years later, Poonam and Hemant began working on ‘Chai and Gupshup'. “And now, here we are,” she smiles.

My piping hotvada pavarrives, accompanied by akatorifilled with long, green chillies. “Ye special Bombay vada pav hai madam,” informs Santosh, while handing over the plate to me. Thebatata vadais sandwiched between a layer ofpavcoated with green chutney (it is special, because of the presence of cashewnut paste in it) and drylasoon(garlic) chutney. I take a bite and nibble on the chilly. It is love at first bite! As I binge on the snack, Santosh urges me to try the Bombay chutney sandwich and pineapple cheese toast too. I couldn't possibly. I sip onchai zaffrani. I hadn't realised that a pinch of saffron paste in tea could do wonders, until then!

Hit combos

Poonam tells me that the other hit combo, apart fromvada pavandchai, iskharibiscuit and ‘Royalchai'. “A person who drinks the royal cup will not like any other cup of tea,” claims Poonam. “It's the royal cup after all!” For the health conscious, tea without milk is also served. Santosh points out that the jasmine green tea is a popular choice. The refreshingAam pannais an instant hit with the kids.

“Most teas are freshly brewed here. Iced teas and premix teas (a blend of sugar, tea extract and milk powder) are also available, apart from that,” says Poonam.

“If a customer relishes a certain variety of tea, he could buy it from here. We have an assorted range,” she adds.

Poonam and Hemant intend to introduce tea mocktails and more chaats soon.

‘Chai and Gupshup' is open from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

For details, call: 0422-4369848

NITHYA SIVASHANKAR

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