Delhi’s Best Tea Joints

The super refreshing aam papad chai at Chaayos
Image courtesy: Chaayos/© Kabeer Lal 2013

It’s that time of the year when, just like that, holding the warm edges of a cup of tea against the washed greens and smattering of colors, Delhi is suddenly beautiful.
From chai-khanas to tea lounges, this beverage has changed many varieties; starting out as the necessary push out of the quilt to parading as currency in ‘sarkaari chai – paani’ (colloquialism for a bribe).

As tea infuses itself into the season, this is a list of must-visit tea places in Delhi.

Tea Lounge at Eros Hotel New Delhi Nehru Place.

POSH AND PRICEY

  • Tea Lounge at the Lobby, Taj Palace,  Sardar Patel Marg: Designer teas along with small bites including a near perfect dessert selection.
  • Tea Lounge at Eros Hotel New Delhi Nehru Place: Exotic tea flavours like Basil Tea, Mango Chai, and Liquorice tea in an easy ambience.
  • Elma’s Bakery, Cakes and Tea Room, Hauz Khas Village/ Meherchand Market: An imitation of an old style English tea room (Harrod’s with an Indian twist) with a lavish spread of delicious bakes and a variety of tea infusions, but some of its old-world charm is gone with a minor change in address.
  • Tea Room Co., DLF Star Mall, Gurgaon: Blends of herbs, fruits and scents in interiors that are a mix of new age ‘quirky’ and old-style ‘charming’, with tea cups hanging from the ceiling.
Desi chai at Chaayos.
Image courtesy: Chaayos

POCKET FRIENDLY

  • Triveni Tea Terrace, Tansen Marg: Two uncomplicated flavours of tea, Triveni focuses on experience rather than variety, with an al Fresco canteen against a green amphitheatre and notes from a bansuri or tabla (in real time).  Ideal for a rain swept evening, or an early winter afternoon.
  • Aap Ki Pasand and Sancha Tea Boutique, Daryaganj: An old-world English style tea lounge – Delhi’s first tea parlour and India’s second – it was launched in 1981 by master tea taster Sanjay Kapur.  While Aap Ki Pasand is more like a cafe that treats tea drinkers with their classic and premium flavours, their other store Sancha Tea Boutique stocks a brilliant assortment of teas for sale.
  • Cha Bar, Connaught Place: Sit back, pull out a book, read and hopefully it will be on a day that isn’t choc-a-block at Cha-Bar.
  • Everest Bakery Cafe, Paharganj: The unusual cafe-cum-restaurant offers a variety of teas – Milk Tea, Black Tea, Masala Tea, Mint Tea, Lemon Tea, Ginger and Honey Tea, Jasmine Tea, and the ever popular Darjeeling tea.
  • Chaayos, Galleria Market, DLF Phase IV, Gurgaon: The new kid on the block, Chaayos puts a fun twist in every cuppa. Try God’s Chai, Hari Mirch Chai, Aam Papad Chai, Sab Kuch Chai and Pahadi Chai.
  • The Piano Man/Passion Tree, Basant Lok, Vasant Vihar: This artistic cafe has framed photos of famous pianists and gorgeous bay windows. It serves a range of teas under Passion Teas ranging from Cardamom & Saffron, Ginger Tea to Mocha Mint Chai and Masala Chai.

THE OTHERS

  • Mittal Teas, Sundernangar Market: A tea lover’s paradise, this place is stuffed to the ceiling with Indian teas, herbs, and spices. This tea house has a charming owner, Vikram Mittal, who will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about tea over a free tea tasting if you pick up some tea.
  • Firdaus Mithai Shop, Mirza Ghalib Haveli, Old Delhi: Selling tea for nearly 60 years, Dilli -06 swears by Firdaus mithai shop’s tea. Fresh, milky tea is served in a glass tumbler that is held in a cup and you can order it with extra cream.
  • The Nameless Tea Shop in New Friends Colony Community Centre: Right next to Al Bake, they make unadulterated desi chai like adrak ki chai and lemon tea.
  • Teasta: The Tea Shop, Godavari Shopping Complex, Noida: Started by Capt VK Mehra and his wife in 1995, most of the teas which are sold at Teasta are brought fresh from gardens of Assam and West Bengal.
  • Premier’s, Doctors Lane, near Bengali Market: This is a high-end showroom selling its branded packaged tea where the casual visitor is always welcome for tea-tasting.

As you sample teas, remember what British politician William Ewart Gladstone said, “If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you and if you are excited, it will calm you”.

AUTHOR'S BIO: Believer in the TEA in TLC and Delhi’s official tea addict.