In this final episode of our Kolkata Food series, let's take you on a brief journey that will acquaint you with the ubiquitous tea and adda (convivial gathering) culture without which the Bengali way of life is incomplete. Here in Kolkata, the love for tea is so cogent that you will find a tea shop on every nook and corner of the city.
There is an unparalleled satisfaction in sipping a cup of piping hot cup of well-made milk tea purchased off a roadside tea stall. Kolkata takes its tea very seriously and hence it is deemed as the tea capital of the country. The tea here is mostly served in clay cups called matir bhaar. The earthiness from these eco-friendly containers enhances the taste of the tea. Moreover, Bengalis believe in spending a good amount of their leisure time having long winding conversations over chai and biscuits with friends at these non-descript stalls. This informal gathering is known as adda. It involves long periods of discussions over topics both serious and light. So it can be a political, social, cultural, economic, etc. discourse between a group of friends and acquaintances. So tea and adda compliments each other.
The tea-drinking scene over here is so riveting that during our 5 days tour, we too ended up having countless cups of tea from every juncture that we halted at during our shoot. So as we reminisce about the city's affection for tea, we couldn't help but recall some of the places were had an amazing tea experience. First comes the zesty Lemon tea that we had tried at 102 years old Favourite Cabin and at Princep Ghat. While the former was the hangout point of the revolutionaries, intellectuals, and freedom fighters during the British Rule, the second destination is the city's oldest recreational spot. Next on the list is the unique steam Chai from the very popular Balwant Singh's Eating House. It's unique because unlike the making of regular tea, where the tea is not boiled in milk. The strained brew is steamed in large water baths. The following one is a mind-blowing saffron tea from Arun Tea stall. The rich and sweet fragrance of the saffron strands sprinkled on the top combined with the strong brew made it phenomenal. The final place that has made its way into our memory is the Kadak chai from Baba Tea stall in Zakaria Street.
Furthermore, our curiosity about the earthen cups led us to the iconic potter's colony in the city at Kumortuli to witness the making of the Bhars. It is inhabited by the porters who make clay items. We saw the whole process from scratch and realized how what a back-breaking task it is to make these tiny, unassuming bhars that are used only once. So come let delve into the details.