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Indian Chai Tea Drinking Culture Shows Love for Caffeine

In the kitchen having my first tea making lesson in India.

After a week of eating dinner on the sofa at the new flat I have finally ventured out in Bangalore again, this time again with actual humans (I am just using my laptop for company at the moment).  I have arrived a bit early so am trying to get a jump start on the blog post before my wine and cocktails hit my head and I have no desire to write later!  Tonight I am VERY happily enjoying Touché for the second time.  This is the swanky restaurant on 100 Feet Road that serves beef (yee haw!) and is unique in that it has PacMan style consoles built into the tables yet still comes off posh and not cheesy 🙂  The music is actually a pretty hard, funky electronic mix tonight (not very relaxing for enjoying a nice, long dinner but hopefully it will change), the staff is already wonderfully attentive and my Indian wine is actually tasting GREAT tonight (no fault of Touché, I have just not found Indian wine to be on par yet with any of the Spanish, French or Italian wines I have been drinking the past decade while living in Barcelona).

I need to ask forgiveness from my Indian friends in advance here as I use Slumdog Millionaire once again as my fun point of reference to start off my topic.  Soooo…. remember how the main character was famously referred to over and over again as the guy who brings the tea (chai) around to the employees in his company?  Until I actually moved here I didn’t know that this was actually a real commonplace job and – indeed- guys are on staff just to brew and bring around tea to colleagues throughout the day.  Obviously, I think this is really cool.  And the guys in our kitchen are very sweet and very gracious.  And they really truly do know how to consistently brew up HUGE pots of delicious tea for hundreds of people every day.

The tea brewing process is exactly that, a process. This is not a quick 3 minute deal…the guys are in there heating, brewing, stiring, straining, pouring…phewww!!! And they do a great job, it is really unique in flavor and very delicious.

Today I went back to my tourist roots and asked them to please let me take photos of the tea brewing process in our little office kitchen.  Probably they think I am strange and giggled at me after I walked out but they were really kind and helped me take the photos (thanks guys!).

So here’s how it works:

  1. Tea isn’t brewed in stainless steel tea kettles or anything similar.  It is basically made by the guys fill up 2 huge monster pots with fresh milk and heat it to boiling.  I couldn’t really understand if we used Bessy-from-the-block (our neighborhood cow) for our milk or we order in a gazillion liters of milk every day but somehow we have milk 🙂
  2. After the milk is done they add tea and spices into it, which is not like the Brits PG Tips or our Lipton tea bags… it is grainy and much more fragrant and yummy.  The guys filter out the big bits.
  3. Then they add in a massive amount of sugar to sweeten it.  The guys told me our company goes through 5 pounds (or kilos, not sure) of sugar per day.  Daaaang, that is a lot of sugar.
  4. Well, the next part if obviously not rocket science… they filter again, pour in tea cups and serve.

We have about 150+ employees at this office so you do the math! The guys are making tea and washing hundreds of cups per day!!!

The guys do this once in the morning, starting at 9:30am and then once again in the afternoon starting just after lunch.  Again, I think this is pretty cool.

And with a typical 6-day work week and longer than international standard work days I guess that Indians need the frequent bursts of caffeine to keep going like rock stars all day!!  Being jacked-up on caffeine certainly helps 🙂

TOUCHE UPDATE:  A few hours passed… well 3.5 to be exact.  I have just left Touché with my friends and the experience was not quite the same as the first one.  The service was amazing, the starters and the drinks were yummy.  But I had to send my medium rare t-bone steak back to the kitchen because it was served to me well-done and not medium-rare as ordered.  On top of that they added a sauce on top of it that I didn’t know would be added.  In all fairness, once I re-read the menu I saw that it had the option for 3 different sauces (wine, BBQ or pepper) but I wasn’t asked which one I wanted and since the photo is a plain t-bone I didn’t think to ask.  The steak came back more medium than medium-rare but it was delicious.  Next time I go I think I will order it rare.   Aside from that everything was great.  The pepper and cheese appetizers were quite yummy, as well as the cosmopolitans and the basil panacotta.

XOXO from Bangalore

© Angela Carson, Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos, 2011

I started Angela's Bangalore from my hotel room on the very first day I moved to India in 2011, while struck with jet lag! It was my very first blog, the country's very 1st luxury travel blog. Now I'm rocking YouTube as @ExpatAngela, hope you'll subscribe.

This article has 14 comments

  1. Arshad

    Dear Angela,
    There is no need for you to ask forgiveness from the Indians to refer a movie. The true India was projected in that movie and Indians should not object to this movie. I being an Indian should know the loopholes of India, then only i can close them. If a person cant digest the truth then he cannot be termed as a Human, because we are humans first and Indians next. Keep on writing and i will keep on reading.
    By any chance you are free then kindly ponder into my blog also. I am a new writer, but hopefully will be coming with new posts.
    Regards
    Arshad

  2. PencilGirl

    Nothing to forgive about the Slumdog millionaire reference. It probably showed the outside world more about India than any other movie in recent times. 🙂 🙂
    I like reading your take on all things Indian. Makes me appreciate my country in a much more refreshing manner. 😀 😀 Like for example, I’ve never been a tea drinker, but I love the way you describe the tea-making process. 🙂 🙂

  3. Gus Madamba

    Is extremely good writing

  4. Sourcer

    Its true, Most companies including mine have three rounds of Tea per day. And then another 3 rounds for the Night-shift contact center teams.

    You like it or not, You drink it or not, the Cafeteria Boy replaces your previous cup with a new one at-least thrice a day.

    My purchase manger says we consume over a 100 Liters of milk per day.

  5. Bibi

    Hi Angela!
    I’m originally from Sonoma, California but now live in Nepal. I’m sure you’ve had some great Spanish, French & Italian wines but sadly Indian wines aren’t quite what they could be yet (I’m sure you know what I mean). But good news!!! In Bangalore you’re really close to what I think is India’s BEST winery- “Grover’s Vineyards” in the Nandi Hills!!! Their currently being run by Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, of France & exclusively use only French wine grapes, selected from the original thirty-five varieties of the Vitis Vinifera species. The 2009 Nandi Hills Sauvignon Blanc is the best Indian wine I’ve tasted

    • angela_carson

      OMG that is the best news on the wine front that I have heard in AGES!! Thanks so much, going to check into that. You talk just like a great friend of mine who was originally from Napa but moved to Spain … she works in wine and I have such fond memories of tasting parties and listening to her talk about the wines. Hope Nepal is treating you wonderfully 🙂

  6. anonymous

    Glad you enjoyed it. Coffee making is a bit more elaborate than tea making. Here’s a video, of the two great indian virtues: the head bob + coffee making

  7. Jason

    Teaaaaa.. I so miss Indian Tea.  I really don't enjoy the tea made using teabags. Doesn't satisy me to the fullest. Back home, hot tea during monsoons was such a delight. The whole process of tea making must have been a real surprise to you.  🙂

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