The Great Indian Chai Experience - The tea shop in Kumartuli, Kolkata

It was a hot and humid day and we had spent the entire morning exploring the streets of Kumartuli, photographing the artisans working on highly elaborate idols of Ma Durga. By the end of it we were tired and despite the heat, in dire need of tea. Right opposite the lane where artisans work, there's a tea stall. Since it was hot, we thought we would share a cup. But then we saw the utensils in which the tea was being served. 

They were tiny earthen pots, called bhaar, that could probably hold just over a quarter cup of tea. We fell in love with them immediately and asked the tea-seller where we could purchase such pots. He said he could pack some for us, but later realized that he didn't have any box or paper to pack it such that they would safely reach Delhi. So we had to let go.

The quantity of tea was perfect for us. And it was pretty reasonable too. It was just 3 rs for one bhaar. So we bought two and sipped on it in leisure. The tea itself was good, though slightly too milky for my taste. It wasn't too sweet, just as I like it. However, I did miss the masalas. A little cardamom would have been nice.

Nevertheless, it refreshed us and what we really enjoyed was watching the tea-seller demonstrate his tea pouring skills and also our interaction with children around the shop. One-by-one they came and posed for us. Loved the experience. 


Arun Muthusamy said…
Seeing tea in an earthen pot for first time. Nice pics.
Really Arun ? I have seen it so many times, but Earthen cups used in Kolkata are very different and available in various sizes.
Unknown said…
whoa... what an awesome experience... kulhad ki chai.... i miss it... :-)
Hey Arachana, We wanted to get some of these packed for our house in Delhi but couldn't find appropriate packing material around.
Unknown said…
Am sure VJ but I haven't really heard of kulhad being packed 😋
@Archana - I know :) .. but these were unique and we don't find such kullad in Delhi :)

@Rupam - Thanks !
Arun said…
That must have been a really nice experience... the taste of tea increases when you have them in these earthen pots/ kulhad...
That's true Arun and it's fun to sip tea from a shop which only sells Tea.
Deepa Gopal said…
Must have been a wonderful experience...have been wanting to visit this place for sometime now!
The Untourists said…
Being a big fan of chai, I have noticed that paper cups typically ruin the taste, and the glass or earthen cups have a much better retention or addition of flavour. Did you notice?
TU - Completely agree. I hate paper/plastic/thermocol cups for tea.
Kulhad ki chai is the best chai one can have. And kumartuli is on my to-visit list since long. Hope to go there very soon.

Nice post :)
Sunita Sriram said…
Chai anytime...and this post is really invigorating..Laloo even introduced kulhad in trains but cannot find them now!
Vishal Sharma said…
I've been to Kolkata few years back & had this Chai experience everyday during my stay. First time when i was served, i thought it was only to taste Chai (as u already mentioned quantity is quarter cup of tea)...few minutes later i've to sip in another 2-3 to have a feeling of However taste is very different from what we are used to.
Dipanwita - You must visit Kumartuli and see if you can plan the visit around Durga Pujo.

Specs Buffy - I know Laloo tried it but not sure if Railways still use Kulhads in some regions or not. Any idea?

Vishal - I can relate to what you say :)

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