Chai would hands down be my potion. I can’t think of any other drink, that can remotely challenge the piping hot cup of Chai.
It attained this status by being with me, since I was a kid. As a kid, when tea was not allowed.. Only adults drink tea. It became a symbol of adulthood.. a badge of maturity. I remember hanging around my mother, while she had tea, like a cat in a fish market. Sometimes, she would add a spoonful of tea in the milk that I was drinking. The pristine white milk had a slight tinge and that was enough for me to feel grown up.
I must have been in the eight grade, when I was finally permitted to have tea. In those lazy teen years, the aroma of tea would spread in the house and serve as an alarm clock. The recipe in my house was simple.. 3/4 cup water, 2 teaspoons of sugar.. 1 teaspoon of Black Darjeeling Tea, some grated Ginger, 2-3 cardamoms..bring it to a boil.. Add some milk.. filter it and you have heaven in a cup.
After growing up and being away from the house, the neighborhood Chaiwallah became a friend. A morning chai along with a cigarette, would be a perfect start to the day. His stall (also called Tapri in Mumbai) used to be a gathering place and also a hangout spot with friends. There is a blog dedicated to this phase of life for a typical Indian youth.. http://chaiwallahsofindia.com/ Check it out.. some interesting stories..There also were specialized chai restaurants like Irani cafes of Mumbai. These places are a bit quieter and the tea here is revered.
After leaving the shores of Mumbai to land in America, there were few things that didnt change.. the habit of waking up to a cup of tea. No wonder, I can’t think of any other potion.
Tea is not just a morning drink.. It is also had on following occasions..
- When you want to concentrate.
- When you are bored.
- When you are with friends.
- When you are missing your friends.
- When you want to stay up late and need caffeine.
- When you woke up too early, can’t sleep and have nothing to do.
- When a heavy lunch makes you sleepy.
- Sometimes, before lunch (I believe this is a Japanese tradition.. but I dont have Japanese tea. Will have to make it work with Indian Chai).