Two New Yorkers spend six months 18 months!?! in Bangalore and other places in India.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tea: Not so bad after all

I used to always hate tea. It was super-wimpy, good only as a first step toward making some super-sweet, thirst-quenching ice tea. But moving to India's given me a better appreciation for the stuff in its non-chilly form. For one thing, normal everyday supermarket tea here (e.g. Liptons or Twinings) seems a lot better than comparable tea back in the states. For another, I used to always make and drink cups that were way too weak -- now I make it the standard Indian way, brewed with lots of tea leaves and then finished off with a bunch of milk and sugar. Unfortunately, I'm still drinking it in large mugs, so that now it's 10:30 AM and I'm FEELING VERY NERVOUS AND SHAKY. Better cut down a bit.

Oh, and about "chai." Here it has none of the la-di-da baggage it has in the United States -- it's just normal, supermilky and sweet tea with some cardamom or cinnamon or other spices thrown in. It's what you buy for three rupees from a 16-year-old kid walking down the street with a couple big metal pails of it. The chai is usually so full of milk that the little cup you drink it from gets a milk skin on top if you take longer than a couple minutes to drink it.

Tea here is so common and non-classy that a fancy tea cafe and shop near our house opened in part to try to get Indians to drink their tea straight instead, with little or no additions but with lots of fuss over the tea itself. The place is nice, but I'll be sticking with lots of milk and sugar in my tea.

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