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Chai Puranam : The Story Of Tea & Me

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Trina Snow

My childhood was spent in a small hamlet known as Mudgad  in Marathwada , Latur district.  When I was born, tea was already a staple drink in my village. But in the past tea was never a staple drink for the majority of Indians. Tea was consumed in few areas where the know how about the tea plant and usage was infused in the culture for generations.

During my childhood, my father Dharmaji Tekale used to say that there were some tea companies who used to demonstrate how to prepare tea and offer it free to the villagers. These companies persistently distributed tea to many regions in India where tea was a foreign drink. Slowly the villagers including mine became fond of it and they did not mind spending a paisa for a cup of tea.  Thus the British Tea companies like Lipton and Brooke Bond spread their wings

Today at the age of 85 I am an addict of tea. I start my day at Brahma Muhurta l.e. at 0430 hrs. After my bath with a prayer for the waters of 7 rivers to merge in my bath water thus “Gange Cha Yamune Chaiva Godavari Sarasvati, Narmade Sindhu Kaveri Jalesmin Sannidhim Kuru”, I prepare a cup of tea and I go through my Nitya Path l.e. daily dose of holy scriptures. Sometimes I do take green tea, but often I am in the habit of consuming my Brooke Bond tea as I feel bonded with Arthur Brooke, who founded this co. in1845 and he named it as Brooke Bond as he wanted to have a bond of good will with the people who drank this nectar on earth.


In Rigveda it is said that we drank Soma juice and we became immortal: Apam somam Amrita Abhum. Similarly in this twenty-first century we can say that we drink tea & become immortal:Apam Chayam Amruta Abhum. Actually Amrutatulya is a favourite adjective given to Tea shops in Maharashtra. No other beverage or food item is given this honour. Till 1955 as I was a student of Bharat Vidyalay, Omega, and as there was no hotel in that place, I was not a regular drinker of tea. Well I started drinking this modern nectar from June, 1955, when I went to Hyderabad for my higher studies. There was an Irani hotel near the place where I stayed. This hotel was open throughout the day and night. So it became our favourite venue for a cup of tea. Another desired destination was Kachiguda Railway Station. It was our starting point for our rail journey to Jame Osmania or Osmania University station. We used to have a cup of tea  for an Ana I.e.six paise or sixteenth part of a Rupee in this case Osmania Sikka (OS), the currency of Nizam of Hyderabad State. We could afford a cup of hot tea served in a cup & saucer the local train travel was absolutely free as the rail staff did not ask us for a ticket as they saw us with books. This was one of the privileges enjoyed by us. Thus I became a tea addict.

During the last 66 years I might have consumed more than a lakh cups of tea roughly costing around ten Lakhs of Indian Rupees at the current prices. I am happy to note that there are millions of people all over the world who are as fond of tea as me.

Nowadays there are varieties of tea available. Black tea is without milk. Herbal tea is prepared with a powder of herbs other than tea plants. In some hotels they serve you with a K T or a King’s tea which is a special tea slightly costlier than ordinary tea. In Pune a Basundi tea ads has made me eager to taste such a tea when I visit that city next time. The Tibetans add butter to their tea to make it more tasty and nutritious. In Mumbai and suburbs “ Cutting Chai “ is popular as it is less than a full cup and cheaper. It is usually served In a plastic cup. In Kerala a place where tea is available is known as a Tea Shop or a chai Kada while lt ls called a “Chai Tapary” in Mumbai. In Yorkshire of the U K a tea shop sells tea as well as coffee. Some people prefer a mixture of tea and coffee and such a mix is called either a teacoff or cofftea. Thus tea appeals to young and old, rich and poor, men and women. Both capitalists and socialists like this drink. You can enjoy it at a High Tea Party hosted by President Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan or Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace as well as at a common birthday party. It is a great leveler. May this King of beverages raise your high spirits!

Govind Tekale

A retired teacher at Sainik School Kazhakootam, besides his lifelong reading passion he is now an avid writer.

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