Chapter one ...my childhood ...the leaf and its discovery
Tea gives hope
Tea gives happiness
Two basic lines of my life
My tea garden partners have a wise crack that Radhika runs on tea, not blood or oxygen!!
My tea-infused childhood
The love for this humble leaf started way back as a child when I noticed Mum’s morning ritual. She used to add freshly plucked tulsi to boiling water, washed each cup with hot water, and then simmered the chai Patti infused in milk. Lastly, she would shut gas, cover with lid, strain and serve it with fresh palm jaggery, as it upped iron in the body.
This daily ritual got me thinking as to why so much time was spent on brewing tea, but years down I realise all that effort got the perfect cup of chai and on it sat our family together, each morning, discussing life and all our plans. Such great conversations with a perfect cup of chai!
By the way that washing of cups with hot water leads to getting the cup ready to receive the hot chai, thus a perfect marriage of cup and chai to give its best taste. And the covering of the vessel with a lid helps assimilate the flavour of the mountain fresh leaf before you sip.
As mom brewed chai so well you might wonder where the leaves come from. Dad was in the merchant navy, China was where most of the ships anchored in the dry docks for repairs. What came back were loads of different leaves with matching teawares.
Whilst mom took pride in desi chai - the leaves she sourced directly from Assam and Darjeeling - and jarred well to make her own blends, she also learnt white, green and oolong along with tea brewing of each from dad’s sojourn.
For a 6-year old to see the varied shapes and colours served as fodder to an inquisitive soul, I couldn’t brew teas like mom, but I could sure play house - house with my dolls brewing teas in their plastic toy tea sets.
Life was a tea party for me, ever since I’s a budding child.
And the saga of tea will continue forever…
Life comes in a way such that we get busy as we age but what stays with each of us are those beautiful memories. I am a young mother now and my little daughter has started her tea journey. I am not sure where it leads her, but I sure do know that she will have insightful stories of hers to tell either with a cup of chai or around a cup of chai. Either ways it’s the leaf that creates the mood and inspiration for the next step in your journey of life and so I love to believe!!!
Till then....Happy brewing and blending!