The cup that cheers

Chill out over a cup of your favourite Darjeeling or flavoured ice tea at one of these swanky new tea bars.

Rahul Sachitanand, Deepti Khanna Bose and Ritwik Mukherjee         Print Edition: May 4, 2008

Infinitea

Where: 2 Shah Sultan Complex, Cunningham Road, Bangalore
Open: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Contact: 080-41148428, 30941516
The price you pay: Rs 500 for two

Infinitea in Bangalore
Bangalore's Infinitea
The chill factor - Bangalore may be India’s Pub City, but it’s also home to a bar of a different sort: Infinitea, the first new-age tea bar in the city. Started a few years ago by the Saria family, which owns half a dozen tea estates in North Bengal, this was perhaps the first modern tea lounge, to take on the hundreds of coffee shops across urban India. While the image of tea itself was given a makeover, the promoters of this tea bar also exposed their guests to new varieties of tea and new ways of drinking and serving the beverage.

Rather than serve all varieties in the same white Bone China teacup, each type of tea here is served in its own unique container. For example, the very earthy Masala Chai is served in earthenware cups, the luxurious Peony Rosette is served in a slightly transparent tea cup to let drinkers see the bud actually bloom when hot water is poured and Enigma On The Rocks is served in a whisky glass. Infinitea has become one of the most popular hangouts in the city, popular with families, free-spending code-jocks and a fastgrowing expat crowd.

Besides drinking tea itself, Infinitea also retails loose tea leaves.

Must tries: Stupa or Peony Rosette, Cinnamon Tea and Nilgiri Organic Tea. Infinitea also backs up its beverages with an ample menu of entrees, salads, main courses and desserts. Try the Tiramisu here to end a relaxed evening out.

Cha Bar

Where: Oxford Book Store, 17 Park Street, Kolkata
Contact: 033-22175266
Open: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
The price you pay: Rs 250 to Rs 300 for two

Cha Bar in Kolkata
Kolkata's Cha Bar
The chill factor - If you are looking for a space to unwind with a hot cuppa and read books, surf the net or enjoy a relaxed chat, the Cha Bar at Oxford Book Store is the right place to be. The elegant 600 sq. ft on the mezzanine level of Oxford Book Store on Park Street is cosily informal and brews a wide selection of Indian and international blends, including Chamomile and Hibiscus tea, Green teas, Ayurvedic Brahmi and Karma teas and Moroccan Mint tea, all blended and prepared with a precision that has come from exhaustive research into the history of tea. Of course, you expect nothing less from the owners, the Apeejay Surrendra Group, one of India’s largest producers of tea. Tucked into a cozy corner of the bookstore, the Cha Bar offers a unique experience for book lovers as well, letting them watch the world go by from their vantage point on the Cha Bar Bridge.

Must tries: Chamomile and Hibiscus tea, Chinese Green and Japanese Green tea, Brahmi tea, Cha Hindustani

The tea centre

Where: 78, Resham Bhavan, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate, Mumbai
Open: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Contact: 022-22819142
The price you pay: Rs 300 for two

The chill factor - Walk into this luxury tea lounge for a wide variety and different flavours of tea, muffins, sandwiches and scones. If it sounds like a typical English high-tea from the days of yore, the reality isn’t too far off the mark. Such is the treasure of Mumbai’s Tea Centre. It takes you back to the best parts of colonial India, from the décor and the ambiance, to the little silver bells to summon assistance.

What began as a tea promotion initiative by the Tea Board of India is today a privately run place where tea has been redefined and remixed to appeal to every palate. Tea Centre offers the classic Assam, Nilgiri and Darjeeling blends, but the in-house Camellia Tea Bar is where the novelty lies. If you’re lucky, you’ll walk in to a piano recital, or a book reading session by an author.

Tea Center also does special brunches with the best of Parsi cuisine. Irrespective of the hour of day you walk in, one thing is for sure —time will have stopped ticking a century ago.

Must tries: Camellia Tea, Hot Buttered Apple Tea, Thai Chai, Rose Petal Tea, scones, apple pie and open-faced mushroom sandwich.

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