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The perfect drink to sip

"Overhead shot of a cup of tea, with saucer on old, scratched light wooden table with copy space to left."   | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I’ve loved chai for as long as I can remember. Over the years the scent of tea has come to mean so many things that it’s no longer just a drink, it’s a sip down memory lane.

The first time I ever had it was when grandmother overruled my mother’s protests and handed me a glass — there was a scent of rebellion to it because it was an adult drink, and a rare privilege for a 10-year-old. I remember drinking it piping hot, just like grandfather did, and feeling like I had crossed a major milestone.

For a long time that’s what chai meant for me — a seat at the adult table and a peek into those grown-up world of news and gossip. And while the evening tea is a romanticised memory, the early morning cup was purely functional. It jolted me from my drowsiness, paired amazingly well with the newspaper and ensured that my morning ablutions ran smoothly. Having said that, those wee hours of the morning with me, mom and dad exchanging lazy conversations over the warmth of chai still remain one of my favourite memories of home.

In college, chai began to mean so much more. When things got a bit too hectic, a cup of tea and a book became the corner I took comfort in. The warmth of ten-rupee-tea gave life to the many stories I read and the world became a bit more interesting. As I started meeting new people around the campus, a cup of chai became my excuse to extract long conversations out of them. Tea cannot be gulped down, but needs to be sipped slowly with lots of gaps in between — which is why it’s the perfect companion for a conversation. And over the years I’ve had the greatest stories told over chai, from scandalous college rumours to wondrous musings on life. It’s the perfect drink to pour your heart out over — the familiarity of the drink brings about a trust that I doubt alcohol could ever induce.

And looking back, a cup of tea has been the protagonist in some of my most cherished memories. In Mumbai, a friend and I shared a great cup of masala chai while watching the lights at Nariman Point. In Hyderabad, my little brother spilled a whole cup of Irani chai on himself outside the Charminar, but we made up for it with two more cups and a plateful of Osmania biscuits. And for a homesick girl in Toronto, a cup of cardamom chai was nothing less than divine intervention.

So exempting a dark period in my life where I was convinced that tea would make me darker, I have loved chai as one would love a close friend. Wherever I go, I now look for a cup of chai — because I know it will probably bring with it a great memory.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 9:24:00 AM |

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