In which we juggle multiple cups of tea and coffee, just in time for the monsoon showers!
Tea and coffee bars are a dime a dozen in this city of ours and most of us visit them because we want to set down our shopping bags or to cool off in the frosty air-conditioning. In other words, tea and coffee bars are fairly versatile spaces where you’ll occasionally find a tutor and pupil or an interview being conducted for a job. However, there are some spaces that are sacrosanct for the beverage they serve. What’s more is that you can even sign up for a tea or coffee appreciation course or a single lec-dem in them. Needless to say, the beverage itself is notable for being top quality.
ANANDINI HIMALAYAN TEA, SHAHPUR JAT
It is tempting to call Anamika Singh of Anandini Himalaya Tea a tea master, but a more accurate description would be a tea sommelier. All the tea in her tiny but exquisite boutique cum tea room comes from a single estate – Manjhee in Dharamshala, owned by her father. Production has intentionally been kept small and there is a fanatical attention to quality. So of the couple of specialties within the tea world that Manjhee does, there’s White Tea where only one bud has to be plucked and carefully dried, and Muscatel in which insects are encouraged to feed selectively on tea bushes to capture a wine-like aroma. Anamika sells this in her store, but you can also go there just to sip a cup of your favourite brew. Her own skill lies in coaxing out one single flavour from a particular variety of tea, and pairing it with a flower, herb or spice to concoct a cold beverage that tastes like tea, with a whole bouquet perfuming it. If you are a professional tea buyer, you will be given the tea-taster’s treatment – white, rather clinical tea-pots with upturned lids exhibiting the leaf.Anamika is passionate about her field and can answer any question with enchanting stories about mists and early spring. She can taste a sip of one of her teas and single out an infinitesimal hint of chocolate or charcoal. She can enthral you with accounts of life in a tea garden. One thing’s for sure – you will never look at the beverage with indifference.
BIZI BEAN COFFEE, GK1 & GURGAON
Bizi Bean is the brainchild of two software professionals who chucked cushy jobs overnight to pursue their passion of coffee. They are roasters of espresso blends who are absolutely outraged that no place in the NCR serves a great cup of joe. The partners insist that it is as easy as falling off a log, and to prove it, Bizi Bean serves espresso shots, cappuccino, French press pour-overs or Aeropress.
The pair, who would win a prize for being the world’s worst businessmen, has managed to make the coffee bar in the lobby of a mall a hub for coffee geeks. Thursday afternoons and Saturdays see the kind of activity that you would normally associate with a coffee hub like Seattle. Aharnish Mishra and Manideep Chhokra make sure that they source their coffee beans raw from as many sources as they can, albeit within India, because they want as much variety in their various espresso blends as they can get. “Single origin beans are great for French press, but we are known for our espresso,” they tell the group that had gathered on Thursday afternoon for an hour of sipping, learning, meeting new friends and going home with a blend of beans roasted by the duo.