Kashmir Saffron, Jaipur Royal, Goan Bliss and Malabari Vanilla Coconut: It’s easy to confuse these with items from a mocktail menu, when in fact they are tea blends. The city has familiarized itself with international teas, including the exotic fruity Ceylons and the Japanese-style sencha, with the proliferation of tea cafes and lounges in recent years. But a venture of a leading tea brand, Taj Mahal Tea House, located in a dusty Bandra bylane, wants to introduce customers to local blends. The founders believe that their target audience is one that appreciates a good cup of chai, and the comfort it embodies.
It may be appropriate, then, that the interior of the tea house evoke relaxed feelings and an overall sense of calm. Nestled in a restored bungalow, the space—spread over 3,500 square feet—has marble tables, old-fashioned plantation chairs, and soft lighting against the backdrop of yellow walls. There are cozy reading corners, a cheerful albeit sheltered outdoor area and a tea bar, where the intoxicating scent of tea-in-the-making comes from. Against one wall is Niladri Kumar’s sitar with photos of Zakir Hussain – the brand’s most famous face – nearby. A tabla set, donated by the tabla maestro, stands in the walled area opposite. This space will soon be open for live classical performances and book readings.
From their diverse variety of teas, the Goan Bliss Tea has a soothing note, with its mixture of caramel and ground spices giving the palate a sweet and spicy taste. The Karipatta delight is made with a dark blend infused with curry leaves, giving it a fresh taste, but not overpowering the comfort of tea. The food menu is made to complement their various teas. With the above teas, for example, the Ragi Masala Dhokla, Masala Toast, Bread Upma and Parsi Bun Maska are recommended.
The tea lemonades, like a refreshing pink jasmine, and iced tea infusions like guava ginger, pair best with dishes like Eggs Benedict and Savory Waffle Sandwiches. The main course section includes soups and tea-infused inspirations such as Oolong poached King Fish and a Darjeeling tea risotto with crisp dry fruit.
While the price of the appetizers starts at Rs 120, the main courses go up to Rs 650. The tea influence extends to the dessert section as well, with items such as Jasmine Apricot Clafoutis and Chai Pannacotta. The latter, with a creamier consistency than a regular pannacotta and served with a salty crumble, is sure to be a hit with customers with a slightly sweet palate. However, the tea here scores on the food. The old-fashioned atmosphere, accompanied by classical music, provides a break from the bustling life outside. It’s the place you look for lonely comfort – to just sip the chai and watch the world go by.