Hyderabad: From being known for its Irani ‘chai’ and Irani cafés, Hyderabad is slowly adapting to the concept of tea bars, which in short, are trendy establishments that make tea the spotlight of their menu while also serving continental, Italian and other cuisines.
Not forgetting that the city has been waking up to the aroma of Irani ‘chai’ for several generations, these tea bars name their cafés around ‘chai’ so as not to lose the essence. From Chai Point, Chai Dukaan and Chai Kahani to Tea Trails, Chit Chat Chai, Chai Pani and Chai Nation, the list is growing.
“The ‘chai’ chain of Hyderabad, until recently, was dominated by Irani café chains. But with the IT sector booming, many from around the country have also been drawn to our city. And their ‘chai’ preferences are slightly different from what we have here. So I think there is a genuine demand, and these cafes have become very popular,” says Kritin Agarwal, owner of Chai Pani Café.
Heads up for décor
The first thing that a customer notices at these tea bars is the décor and the ambience. While the beverage and the food is definitely the hook, a picturesque interior and some green plants are added cherries on the top.
“A very refreshing chai is available at tea joints on the streets for just below Rs 10. But it is the ambience and the comfortable atmosphere, which allows you to stay for long, that draws a tea lover to spend a minimum of five times the money. Apart from that, we also get great pictures to post on Snapchat and Instagram and share the moment with our friends,” shares 22-year-old Moulika Bhavana.
Apart from great décor, the hygiene and cleanliness have also worked well for these tea bars especially after the pandemic.
We have heard of cutting chai, masala chai, lemon and ginger tea for several years, but now, the tea bars have gone beyond. Through experimentation, they have come up with crazy unique combinations with flowers like Hibiscus, Rose, Lavender and Jasmine with a mix of certain varieties of fruits that one would want to have a try at.
“For Hibiscus tea, we offer a medley of crimson red hibiscus petals with cinnamon, cloves, with an essence of mango and strawberry which adds a fruity flavour to the spiced tea,” says Jaya Nayak, an employee at Chit Chat Chai.
The iconic combination of chai and Osmania or moon biscuit is something that most Hyderabadis have grown up cherishing. But the idea of biting into cheesy pasta and then having tea has emerged just recently.
“People have started loving experimenting. They don’t see any problem with having varied cuisines with chai. Many directly order beverages or first eat some cheesy and savoury bites from our menu and slowly move to beverages. Since people are not in a hurry in cafes, they take their time and experiment with many unlikely combinations,” says Aryaman Madireddy, 24, owner of Chai Dukaan in Banjara Hills.
A few tea bars also have tea sommeliers and tea mixologists to suggest the best food with a flavour of tea.
New hub for techies
Sitting between the four walls of the house has been a tough task for many working from home. So, these cafes in the city offer a great ambience and good food to drive away the lethargy of staring at the screen.
“As we have free Wi-Fi and a variety of chai and food, all under one roof, many techies tend to sit at my café for long while working. They also socialise with other regular visitors. So sitting together and sipping a cup of chai while working has become the new way of community building,” says Vikas Reddy Madhikunta, 27, founder of Chai Kahani.
Irani chai remains an icon
“Irani chai is Irani chai any day. At least in Hyderabad, it is irreplaceable,” says Vikas Reddy without a second thought.
“Although we visit these tea cafes regularly, the essence of sipping on an Irani chai with an Osmania biscuit dipped in it has no comparison to anything in this world,” says Veerendra Nath, a chai lover from the city.
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