A lot can happen over a cup of coffee. Na that’s not true. In India, more can happen over a cup of steaming chai. A heated discussion, a political debate, mourning over lost love, an emphatic heart-to-heart with a girlfriend, a quick warm up before a run, a beverage to wake you up or drown your misery in... tea is liquid therapy. In a festival entirely dedicated to this heartwarming drink, The Tea and Food Festival brews up a delicious, aromatic concoction.
The air bares crisp coldness, characteristic of Delhi winters. As a warm hug of comfort comes the familiarity of this much loved Indian beverage that is tied so intrinsically to its people.
If your heart is set on the quintessential masala chai, this festival will open your world to a gamut of teas from some of the country’s finest tea providers. From loose tea to tea bags, from infusions to tea and food pairings, there will be all this and more. Workshops, tasting experiences, and a display of tea accessories is charted out for you all too. “Chai is delicate in nature.
It absorbs the energy of the person preparing it. This happens in our daily lives too. Our emotions get infused as we brew tea to serve to family or ourselves, so it is important to make it with sensitivity,” says Ashok Mittal, a tea connoisseur working with the festival.
If 40 years of working in the tea business have opened his eyes to one thing it is the fundamental challenge that the beverage faces today — its plummeting preference over coffee, especially among youngsters. India was the number one producer/exporter/consumer of tea at one point. Today China has taken the position of being the number one tea producer. As an exporter, Kenya has overtaken India, followed by Srilanka and China, shares Mittal. “Young, upper-middle-class consumers are looking for fashionable products that can be easily integrated into their lifestyles, which now also includes all things gourmet, that is had in sophisticated environments. While cafes and upscale coffee shops have provided that space for coffee, tea boutiques are still few and far in between,” he says.
In hope of building a more comprehensive tea culture, The Tea and Food Festival comes as a delicious teaser. There will be food and tea pairings with pops of complimentary flavours making the tea drinking experience a holistic one. “There was a time when it was impossible to pair tea with anything else because of the typical way it was made in, that is by boiling tea leaves, milk and sugar in a pot of water. Now, there are so many different types of teas such a cold, green, white, herbal, organic etc., so paring is versatile,” says Mittal, adding, that Chinese is most receptive to Indian tea flavours.
Whether it is the tea that attracts you to the festival or the food paired with it, the event is a pouring of Indian culture from a simmering pot of warm winter goodness. The Tea and Food Festival: January 13, from 11 am to 10 pm, Amphitheatre, Ansal Plaza.