One thing I have been observing as a regular ritual since my childhood is the glorious and most awaited ‘Chai Time.’ Be it mornings or evenings, guests or no guests, summer or winters, one cannot do without chai, especially in Indian households. Only in India you can find that breed of humans designated as ‘Chai Lovers.’ Everything else takes a backseat in front of chai and all they care for is relishing every sip of this steaming beverage they have been blessed with.

I have been born and brought up in chai loving family and my memories related to chai are very consistent. My grandmother was a huge chai fan and she made sure to have her cup according to her set timings. It was usual for her to have her lunch, sleep for an hour and then sip on the tea by 4 in the afternoon. Usually both my mom and grandmother would sit and enjoy their chai time together but if my mother is not around for some reason, she would do it herself. No wonder this inflexible schedule fascinated me as a kid. Around the time I hit middle school, I began helping my mom in the kitchen or rather say I would constantly hang in there and observe. I was always eager to lend in some help and to my surprise one of the very first things my mom taught me was how to make a cup of chai. Oh yes!! My first baby step in the world of cooking is through chai and it instantly became one of my favorite things to do. I’d usually stand beside her and she would give me tasks, to pass the can of sugar or stir the chai as it simmered, while she’d act the role of a potion master, craftily combining one part water, two parts milk, a heap of tea leaves and a spoonful of sugar. If it was raining outside or was particularly chilly, she’d toss in a few whole spices like, cardamom, cinnamon, clove and ginger. When it was ready, we’d serve it in beautiful ceramic mugs and everyone would indulge happily, pouring in gossips, laughter and much more.

This is chai as I have always known it and it’s still the same. Nothing much has changed over time, except there are lots more varieties of chai available in market these days. Masala chai, ginger chai, elaichi chai, lemongrass chai and many more. But one thing, which remained constant throughout these years, is the unbreakable bond with chai and souls bonding over it. The chai time somehow feels like ‘our comforting time.’ Time when we forget everything else, all our worries and anxieties, read a book, listen to music, sit together, laugh, chatter, make plans, and create memories. Even now when I visit my mom’s place, we both wait for my dad to come back from office and then only the chai session begins. Sometimes I have chai only to enjoy that particular time with my family. Sometimes a cup of chai gives me the coziest feeling with my hubby. A quick chai session with my friends even by a roadside chaiwallah is enough to do all the magic. With every sip we take, it brings in more love, happiness and togetherness.

If there has to be an ideal companion for any kind of situation in India, it has to be chai. It’s a perfect way to enjoy a rainy day. It’s the comforting cup on a winter morning and a pacifying drink on a hot summer afternoon. It is known to stimulate your senses and refreshes the mind and body. It is consumed before meetings and events, on a bad day, and to make your good day even better. It’s a quick and most effective home remedy for headache, cold and cough. In a country where guests are considered a manifestation of God, chai is the perfect way to greet guests at home. Drinking chai has become an elaborate culture in India, where many now host tea parties, celebrating special occasions. It has become a sign of hospitality and it builds connection like no other form of food or drink. Whether you’re on a first date, meeting your friends after a long day or on a short break with your office colleagues, Chai seems to break the ice and help people communicate with each other on a much better level. In fact, chai-time is associated with an idea of stopping every activity, take a moment to lose ourselves in its flavor and aroma and come out with a more productive mind.

The never ending romance between Indian hearts and a hot cup of chai is also evident from the fact that many tea rooms and chai delivery services are popping up everyday and slowly picking up with time. From the ‘Ronga Saah’ of Assam to the ‘Kahwa’ of Kashmir, the new age ‘Chai shops’ are offering an overwhelming variety of indigenous tea under one roof and they are here to stay. Infact the charm of chai is not only restricted to India but has spread over the world. Uppma Virdi, 26, became Australia’s renowned Chai Wali, and was named the Businesswoman of the Year at Indian Australian Business and Community Awards (IABCA) held in Sydney in 2016. “Australia takes it coffee seriously and finding a market for indigenous chai blends laced with local Indian spices was challenging, yet not impossible. Interest in tea is growing in Australia as more and more people are seeking alternatives to coffee. It was coincidentally the right time for me,” says Uppma Virdi. I am glad to see our beloved chai doing rounds in the distant corners of the world, warming souls all over. Being travel lovers, chai has been our constant throughout, right from Leh-Ladakh to London.


It’s amazing and quite surprising at the same time that something as simple as a cup of chai could stitch so many hearts together across the globe. If there is anything in India that people really bond over, it has to be chai. You can’t go wrong with that ever. Chai is not just a cup of hot beverage, but also a cup of love, emotions, indulgence and calm. It’s a memory close to everyone’s heart. From being someone’s first love to the only addiction, it definitely is a soulful infusion.

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