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Try this Chai | Tea 101, and where to get it

Suchita posted on 7th October

By Srishti Kochhar

The perfect end to a long, hard day at work; the companion to steaming hot pakodas on a rainy day; an accompaniment to conversation with a friend you're catching up with; or just the reason to get out of bed every morning – that lovely, ubiquitous cup of tea makes so many spheres of life so much more bearable. Chai has long since assuaged weary brains, added zing to sleepy footsteps and paved the way for some great conversation. Over the past few years, we've seen tea evolving into more of a lifestyle, and have noticed the {g}literati steadily moving away from the quintessential masala chai, to more varied pastures. Chai is no longer only the chai-waala's domain, but has acquired a gourmet dimension for those who do high-tea, and we see every day bringing a new flavour to the table – everyone's seen the green, the white, and the rose, but there is also the blackberry, the chocolate, the apple, and what have you! Incidentally, these flavoured teas are essentially tea leaves infused with another plant - jasmine tea comes about when tea leaves are infused with jasmine flowers, and so on}.

Given this diversity in the tea world, we thought it was time to go on a tea trail to get you a list of the fail proof places to get your teas from, give you an insight into what a good cup of tea entails, and some more! But first…

Where can I get good tea, my darling?


Mittal Tea House

What we recommend | Their classic Masala chai, and the Darjeeling tea

Where | Block 13, Lodi Colony, New Delhi

Asia {Regalia} Tea House

Where | 12, Sunder Nagar Market, Sunder Nagari, New Delhi

What we recommend | Their Jasmine tea, and Mint tea

Aap Ki Pasand

Where | Sterling House, 15, Netaji Subhash Marg, Daryaganj, New Delhi

What we recommend | Sancha Love Pekoe {a blend of Wild Indian Rose and select twisted long leaf black tea which is sharp and compliments the sweetness of the Rose}


Where | 30, Santushti Shopping Arcade, Chankaypauri, New Delhi

What we recommend | President's Tea, and the very refreshing Blue Mountain Iced Tea

Premier's Tea Moods

Where | 16/7, Doctor's Lane, Gole Market, New Delhi

What we recommend | Their Masala chai is the best we've had in Delhi

Kirana Store

Where | 131 Meharchand Market, New Delhi

What we recommend | Rose-hip and Mint tea, and Anandini Tea.

Anandini Himalayan Tea Boutique

What we recommend | Pine wood smoked tea, green tea with rhododendron flowers & himalayan tulsi

Where | 12A, DDA Flats, Near Asiad Village, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi


What you knew, but don't know about your tea |


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The two leaf and a bud leads us to believe that being a tea-totaller isn't a bad thing at all, and it's no wonder that tea is the second most consumed beverage after water! Tea tasting is something that involves all the senses – visual, taste, touch, and smell, and here's what you knew, but didn't know about your tea |

The Colour | In terms of CTC tea, the colour of the liquor should turn copper about a minute into the immersion of the tea. In Orthodox tea, the liqour should turn golden, and the leaves should open – the bigger the leaf, the better the quality of the tea.

The Fragrance | One of the most important things about tea is its aroma. Upon taking a whiff, or a sip, the fragrance should linger, and invigorate your senses.

The Taste | It's essential that the taste of your tea corresponds to its flavour. Instances of jasmine tea tasting completely bland, and masala chai tasting foul means you're doing it wrong.

The Texture | This is slightly technical, but good tea has no fiber in its granules, and should be graded evenly.

Storage | Store your tea away from strong, competing aromas, like spices, so that you keep the tea’s own delicate flavours intact.

Tea bags | Essentially tea dust, tea bags are the worst quality teas. The residue that remains after processing tea is what often goes into tea bags.


Pour me that perfect cup, will you?


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Having trouble brewing the perfect cup? We can sympathise – tea brewing might not require a PhD, but definitely isn't as simple as throwing tea leaves in boiling water! Here are all the tips and tricks you need |

The trick to brewing tea correctly comes in five parts: water, weight, temperature, time and equipment, but a pre-requisite to all these is good tea. Buy the best that you can afford, but more importantly, keep it fresh! The best period to enjoy your fresh tea is within 6 months to a year.

Water | Water that is too hard will give you a harsh brew. Water that is too soft will leave you with a weak, fuzzy-muddy cup. You also can't get the best cup of tea from water that has been re-boiled, as every time water boils, it releases oxygen. Use the fresh water out of your reverse osmosis plant, make sure it doesn't taste funny, and don't over boil!

Weight | The volume that is considered the "golden ratio" of leaves to water is one teaspoon of most tea leaves {approx. 2 grams} per 8 ounce cup of water {this is for a traditional 8 ounce cup}. However, this might differ in case of large, open leaf teas like a White tea, which may require two or more teaspoons to equal 2 grams.

Temperature | Use boiling water {212F} when preparing Black, dark Oolong and Herbal teas. These teas are tough, and require the burn. However, it's important to use cooler water when brewing more delicate teas, such as Green, green Oolong and White teas. Water that is too hot will cause a delicate tea to taste overly bitter or astringent. Water that is too cool will cause a tea to taste flavourless and weak.

Time | The rule of thumb is 3-5 minutes for most black teas, depending on your preference for strength. Any longer, and they'll taste burnt. Dark Oolong and White teas, on the other hand, are much more forgiving. These teas will taste best when steeped for 3-5 minutes, but will still be drinkable if steeped a little longer. For light Oolong and Green teas, a little TLC must be employed, steeping for only 2 minutes - 3 if you're looking for a strong cup.

Equipment | When hot water is added, tea leaves can unfurl up to 5 times their dry size. So to make a great tea you need to give your leaves some leg room. If using an infuser basket, use as broad and deep of a basket as possible for the pot or cup you're brewing in {some barely extend a quarter of the way below the surface of the water}.

Keep brewing!