Sunday, November 08, 2009

just like other bengalis, i've long been a chai snob.  you know the chai tea latte from starbucks?  well, i wouldn't dare take a sip of that!  if you're a total chai connoisseur like me then, you'd probably agree.  chai tea (let's look past the redundancy for now) latte is kid stuff compared to the regal teas of assam and darjeeling.  ever since i was little, we only drank the "good stuff" at home.  the special blends that passed the bengali taste tests at my home included "lopchu" tea,  orange pekoe, green pekoe, makaibari, other darjeeling blends from dolly's tea house in kolkata, and other such "refined" teas.  we usually had hordes of tea saved from each of our visits to kolkata and at first even when our visits to kolkata were not as often, special guests always meant bringing out the special tea at our house.  of course, the special events and causes for celebration became more frequent as we grew up and my sister and i devised new ways to get our hands on the savored little packets filled with aromatic teas - it's raining out, let's bring out the special tea today or i got an a on my exam, surely that's cause for celebration!  in this way, our tea snobbery was further encouraged as the special events at my house became more and more frequent and we put aside the earl greys and liptons to opt only for darjeeling and assam teas.

however, i was pleasantly surprised by a tea which my sister presented me with recently.  i tried to look past the elegant and beautiful packaging (which i'm a complete sucker for) and judge only the contents in the bin.  the tea comes in many different flavors and the one she got me was called "kashmir tchai".  i liked that the tea had an authentic taste and reminded me of home. 

the kusmi tea's history started in 1867 in st. petersburg and then, located to paris in 1917. it's a wonderful gift to order for friends and family especially around the holidays and i am really looking forward to trying out some of these flavors:  darjeeling makaibari, darjeeling n37, and ceylon op