West indian culture

Out of the brew: Here’s how India’s tea drinking culture keeps pace with changing times and tastes

The popularity of chai has also spawned a range of new-age snacks that go well in the morning or evening, such as roasted black chana with puffed rice, a mix of nuts and seeds (trail mix), wheat /quinoa/ bajra puffs, roasted makhanas (fox nuts) and whole fruits, cucumber/celery/carrot sticks with hummus dip.

Gone are the days of the aristocratic afternoon or afternoon tea associated with medieval England when a high table was adorned with exquisite table linens and fine bone china tea sets including ornate kettles, silver spoons and urns, and the ubiquitous drink enjoyed with tea cakes. , scones and cheese on toast.

Today, the culture of tea drinking in the second largest tea producing country in the world means more than just great opulence or sophistication and keeps pace with changing times and changing tastes. Whether it’s English tea served with peri-peri prawn tarts at Lodhi in New Delhi or signature jasmine tea with clay pot meal bowls inspired by southern China at Spicy Duck at the Taj Palace , the ritual of tea time – synonymous with constant laughter, conversation and socializing over a hearty meal – is undergoing a rapid transformation.

“Chai has always followed the evolution of times and tastes. It’s the hot favorite and cold choice for Generations X, Y and Z, enjoyed as bobba tea in Taiwan (bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea), masala chai in India, green tea in teahouses in China and iced tea in the United States,” says Bala Sarda, CEO and founder of Vahdam India, a brand known for its premium tea blends.

The popularity of chai has also spawned a range of new-age snacks that work just as well in the morning as in the evening, such as roasted black chana with puffed rice, a mixture of nuts and seeds (trail mix), wheat/quinoa/bajra puffs, roasted makhanas (fox nuts) and whole fruit, cucumber/celery/carrot sticks with hummus dip.

Talk about tea and the other thing that comes to mind is samosa, the small triangular pastry with a tasty filling that was declared India’s “most consumed snack” in 2021 by the ordering platform and of Swiggy food delivery. Taking the humble samosa one step further, Bengaluru and Gurugram-based QSR brand Samosa Party is now trying to make it a global snack by adding new flavors. “In January, we launched the ‘bucket of the month’ initiative with new flavors such as pizza samosas and Tex Mex samosas with jalapeno cheese dip,” says Amit Nanwani, co-founder of Samosa Party.

While we’re on the subject of samosas, don’t think the market is all about unhealthy snacks that are fried and loaded with salt and empty calories. For example, the Chaayos tea-café chain serves artisanal and healthy snacks like egg white chaat and kala chana chaat, which are rich in natural protein and fibre.

The popular snacks come with homemade servings of the vintage beer in a funky coffee format. Hibiscus mulethi green tea, chamomile flower tea and kadak chai and chatpata nashta (savory snacks) are some of Chaayos best sellers.

Similarly, at Mister Chai, a popular teahouse in Shangri-La Eros New Delhi, India’s regional street food is best served in a fusion fashion without compromising on hygiene and flavor. Its “chai de coupe – the tapri style” is infused with ginger and cinnamon, and served in a kettle with a box of rusks, namak para (spicy and savory fried bites), in addition to other signature specialties like samosa with butter chicken, masaledar aloo chaat, vada pav, tikka tacos, Mumbai masala club sandwich, Kolkata beetroot cutlets, corn bhel (corn, cucumber, cilantro, tomatoes, onions, puffed rice and hot tamarind sauce) and chaat papdi and gol-gappas (puffs of semolina with curd and hot water) in a luxurious setting.

“It would be wrong to say that Indian street food can only be better when eaten on the street. In a typical chai-chakna-hygienic setting, savory food paired with tea provides a delicious street food experience and all this in a lavish teahouse,” says Gagandeep Singh Sawhney, Executive Chef, Shangri-La Eros New Delhi.


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