People get tired with mundane work, therefore need ways to relax. A prominent way to relax in Hyderabad is ‘Chai’, which cost anything between Rs.5 to Rs.10 at any local hotels. It sets your mood to get going in hectic city life.
Chai or tea is a traditional Indian drink served multiple times a day at homes. It has been in use for centuries, not just to relax but also as a medicine to cure tropical ailments.
Exploring tea and its varieties become more interesting after a ‘chaiwala’ became Prime Minister in India.
You go to any city in India, you will get tea.
In Hyderabad, chai takes a special place in local culture. Be around Mecca Masjid near Charminar to see people starting chai consumption at the crack of dawn following early morning prayer.
Being a cosmopolitan city, Hyderabad feeds millions by offering employment and business opportunities. Here people start their daily works after a cup of hot tea, either before breakfast or after it.
It is no exaggeration to say that no business deal in Hyderabad is finalized without having chai.
Ask natural debater Sriram Karri, who is often spotted in Lamakaan discussing various issues, how important chai is in arguing in favor of or against hotly debated matters.
Also, guests are served with tea at homes. Even a diabetic guest gets sugar-free chai. Tea has become a part and parcel of life in Hyderabad.
A friend of this author residing in Hyderabad rightly says, “When a sip of hot chai touches epiglottis, its hotness activates the brain to think, and think deeper.”
Varieties of tea are available in Hyderabad. Popular varieties are: Irani Chai, Andhra Tea, Black Tea (Decoction), and Green Tea. Among these varieties, Irani chai is served widely across the city of erstwhile Nawabs.
Irani Chai first came to Mumbai from Persia, and then to Hyderabad. It’s made in a unique style, not known to Indian people. Tea dust is boiled in a jar, and milk is boiled in another jar. For serving a cup of chai, both decoction and boiled milk are mixed in adequate quantity to bring pleasing flavor.
A member of Persian business family in Hyderabad that runs famous Sarvi Hotels recalls that earlier Irani chai was just a decoction without sugar. But today’s sweet and milky Irani chai, which is served in a white ceramic cup and saucer, refreshes us as we finish drinking it.
Not just tasty Irani chai, local hotels also maintain osmania biscuit, fine biscuit, bun, jam roll, lukhmi, and other staples to serve along with chai. For many, a combination of biscuits and Irani chai is a good starter to begin the day with.
Andhra tea is quite different from Irani chai in taste. But when it comes to preparation, both have something in common: Tea dust and milk are boiled separately. In another way of making tea at homes, both tea dust and milk are boiled together as well.
You will find numerous tea sellers on roadside in Hyderabad. At Mehdipatnam area alone, you will find at least 10 tea stalls. Andhra tea may not taste as sweet as Irani chai, but in both varieties boiled tea water is added to milk while serving and not the other way round.
Health Benefits of Tea / Chai
Chai or tea has numerous beneficial properties. Normal black tea or decoction is rich in antioxidants. According to Chai-Tea.org, spices in chai are used since many centuries to promote general health and treat various ailments.
Commonly used spices in chai are: cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and ginger. Sometimes, black pepper and fennel are used. Interestingly, ginger tea has more takers in the city that hosts world-famous IT companies. Ginger tea is believed to cure headaches.