‘Tea or coffee?’ marks the first of many defining questions in any relationship, and if you’re one to answer tea, you must know that it’s often the tea at tapris tucked between a corner shop and a vada pav wala who know how to do it best.

But what if you sometimes want a little something different from the tapri chai walas? Here’s where we swoop in and bring to you a short list of tea-walas who like to mix it up.

Sainath Tea Stall

When you look from a distance, you will wonder what chaos has descended on this side of Bandra. Come closer, and you’ll be surprised to find that at the centre of all the attention is a small tea stall, a man with a hurried expression, and his saucepan of boiling hot tea. Why do people from around flock here and here only when the clock strikes tea? Because of his simple cardomom tea that waves away the stress of the day. He puts in tea, generously spills sugar and adds crushed cardomom in it – no ginger, no extra spice.

If you are in Bandra, we recommend going here and having a cupful of tea for a reminder of home, a spoonful of sugar and an evening of ennui.

Where: Sainath Tea Stall, Shop No. 42 {next to Shree Krishna fast food}, Shastri Nagar Market, Bandra East, landmark is next to Landmark Business Centre

Price: INR 7 for a cutting chai glass

Abir Chaiwala

Meet Abir’s father, a tea-seller with a story, compassionate heart and amazing tea. Of course he has regular adrak ki chai, or ginger tea. But what we’d like you to try here are his two special teas – Masala tea and lemongrass tea. Gingerly holding the hot tea glass, when we sip the tea we take in the extra spices from the masala tea which go really well with the sweetness of it otherwise.

All around his tea stall he has taken the onus of taking care of plants that he himself has potted, amongst which grown on the lush green fields behind him is lemongrass plant. He got it plucked right in front of us, and adding a splash of it to the tea, which made all the difference.

Where: Near Ruia College, Matunga {you have to cross the road and walk to the left until you reach his stall}

Timings: 4.30am – 9pm

Price: INR 7 for adrak chai, INR 10 for masala tea and lemongrass tea

Ashish Soni Tea Stall

Heard of a cocktail chai? Neither had we, but apparently that’s one of the teas offered at Ashish Soni’s Tea Stall – minus any alcohol. It’s a mix of many things – ginger, lemongrass, mint. Apart from this concoction, he serves up in little tapri glasses the individual variants of the special tea – Lemongrass tea, mint tea, lemon tea, and of course, cutting chai.

To balance his fanciful combinations, we find there the classic Mumbai staple to chown down – the vada pao.

Where: Near Famous Studio, Dr E. Moses Road, Mahalaxmi

Timings: 5am – 9.30pm

Price: INR 6 for cutting chai, INR 15 for all his special teas

Photos: Athul Prasad/LBB