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The popularity of chai or tea across India is huge. But every state comes up with their specialty in making and serving tea. For example, the famous cutting chai in Mumbai is served in small glasses consist of cardamom, ginger, lemongrass, and fennel. All across North India, you will get to see the prominence of Masala Chai in paper cups and when you visit Ladakh, you will experience Butter Tea. So, basically, the love for tea is the same all over the country – just the presentation is different.

One such tea-loving state is West Bengal where a cup of tea never ends with just a cup of tea – it elaborates into many food/snack items. Chai across the streets of Bengal are served in cute, rustic, and nostalgic “bhaad” or kulhaad. Although a sweet loving state, Bengalis prefer strong tea with less sugar. The common phrase which any Bengali would say while meeting an old friend or relative suddenly is that – “cholo kothao giye ektu chaa-taa khoa jaak”. It means let’s go somewhere and have some tea. But you see there is a “taa” said along with chaa and that refers to countless snack types which are prepared at home for guests, served at street stalls, and also available in restaurants.

In most part of India, the tea time snacks are generally light but you can say that “Chaa-Taa” or tea time snacks in Bengal are almost a meal. Read below about the delicious, crunchy, and fulfilling Bengali snacks that accompanies tea.

Chop & Muri:
Chop & Muri
Image Source – Google

Being a Bengali, I cannot imagine my world without chops. Our CM once said that no business is small even if it is running a tea and chop joint at the roadside. It’s sad that she then became the theme for various memes but nothing affected the fame of chops. Available in a variety of stuffing ranging from soyabean to mango, chicken or mutton to banana flowers – the simple potato chop is still the ones that are mostly in demand. Mostly, it is an evening snack served with Muri or puffed rice. I still remember during my childhood going to a chop shop with my Dadu and spent only 1 rupee for Alur chop or potato chop. Well, the price has gone up to 5 or more but the satisfaction is still the same.

Bengalis greet their guests or feast among themselves with a bowl of muri & chop.

Moshla Muri or Jhal Muri:
Moshla Muri or Jhal Muri
Image Source – Google

Moshla means spices, Jhal means spicy feeling, and muri mean puffed rice.

As a child, I was fascinated by the Jahlmuri or Moshla Muri wala in local trains. Going out of office somewhere in trains meant a thonga or paper cup of jhalmuri and that cost only Rs. 2. Made from puffed rice, mango pickle oil, onion, ginger, chanachur, jhuri bhaja, boiled potatoes, soaked chana, green chilies, and secret masala powder. They serve it with a slice of coconut on top. In my home, my chhoti dadi still prepares the best Jhal muri. Tea becomes dearer with such crunchy delicacies.

Singara:
Singara
Image Source – Google

This triangular shaped delicacy is known as Samosa in North India. Singara is different from Samosa because the spices are different. The Bengali Singara is devoid of coriander seeds and is smaller in size. The stuffing of potatoes are generally not mashed like in Samosas and also the flour cover of singaras are thinner. Bengali Singaras are also not so spicy. These facts make the Bengali singaras lighter than the Northern counterparts. With a cup of tea, any average person can have 2 singaras. It is also accompanied by muri sometimes.

Chirey Bhaja:
Chirey Bhaja
Image Source – Google

Flattened or beaten rice is called poha in Hindi and Chirey in Bengali. Bhaja means fried. Raw peanuts, pepper powder, salt, and grated coconut are taken fried with a minimal amount of ghee or clarified butter. It becomes a crispy dish to be enjoyed with a cup of tea. It is consumed mostly during the monsoon evenings.

Mughlai Porota:
Mughlai Porota
Image Source – Google

I don’t know the Mughal invented this dish or not but the reality is it is too yummy. The Bengalis prefer to have it from the restaurants. It is served with a spicy Bengali dum alu. The normal flour is used and a big paratha is rolled. Right at the center, the egg mix with onion, red chili powder, salt, and green chilies is poured. It is then folded from four sides and deep-fried in hot oil.

Chicken Pakora:
Chicken Pakora
Image Source – Google

Another immensely famous tea time snack is pakora or fritters made from chicken. Chicken is marinated in salt, pepper, and other spices and then boiled for some time so that it becomes ultra-soft. Then a batter is prepared with gram flour, salt, water, red chili powder, and eggs. The chicken pieces are dipped in them and then deep-fried. It is served with cucumber and onion slices with mustard sauce and tomato ketchup.

Chanachur:
Chanachur
Image Source – Google

The rest of India calls it mixture which is mostly spicy. But the chanachur of Bengal is available in various tastes of tok-jhaal-mishti meaning sour, spicy, and sweet. When guests appear suddenly without any information, biscuits, and chanachur save grace with hot tea. It is also mixed in moshla muri.

Nimki:
Nimki
Image Source – Google

Just the way you make mathri – Nimki also follows the same process. But these are smaller rhombus in shape and have only Kalonji or Nigella seeds as flavor. It is a tasty and healthy snack to be enjoyed with tea in the morning or evening.

Fish Cutlet:
Fish Cutlet
Image Source – Google

Oh, how can you think the Bengalis can leave fish from their tea time snacks?

It is available in square, rectangular or even spherical shape and is consumed with mustard sauce and some salad. It is one of the most famous evening time snacks. All the major coffee houses of Bengal have this delicacy. Fish fillets, potato, ginger, and garlic paste. Green chili, cumin powder, coriander powder, onion, salt, and pepper are mashed really well. For that, the fish fillets are boiled in salt and turmeric water for some time and then fried with spices. This mixture is then given shape with palms and then dipped in egg white and then coated with breadcrumbs and finally fried.

Fish Kobiraji:
Fish Kobiraji
Image Source – Google

Another famous item is Fish Kobiraji which is generally enjoyed in coffee shops only as it requires quite a patience and skill to prepare at home. When it is served on the plate you may feel that the fish is caught up in the web of the egg. The process of preparing the fish is the same as the fish cutlets but here the fish stuffing is fried with egg in a complicated manner.

Kathi Rolls:
Kathi Rolls
Image Source – Google

Kathi Rolls were invented in Kolkata and became a famous item during the British rule only. The skewer roasted kebabs were rolled in parathas and served. Skewers are known as Kathi in Bengali and that’s how the name originated. Over time, many places have tried many types of Kathi Roll recipes. But most of the places make it like a paratha roll with veggies or pieces of chicken or mutton without making kebabs of them. The beauty of having them with tea in the company of friends is a special feeling.

The Bengalis are often known as “khaddo-rosik” or hardcore foodies and these tea-time snacks really proves that.

We all know Herbal Tea! But, Do we? Most of us know Herbal Tea as a hot beverage made from herbs & spices. I wouldn’t say that is wrong, but there is more to it. Did you know that herbal tea is not actually tea! Tea is made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal tea is not! No tea leaves are used in herbal tea.

Herbal tea is a blend of various other leaves, flowers, roots, barks, herbs etc. Apart from having various health benefits, herbal teas usually have a vibrant flavor.

So, let’s beat the winter breeze with Herbal Tea. Here are 3 must-try tea flavors and their benefits:

Thyme Tea
Thyme Tea
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Thyme is a Mediterranean Herb from the mint family. It has many health benefits and if you’re looking forward to adding it to your daily diet, start with Thyme Tea!

Thyme tea is rich in antioxidants, vitamins & minerals.

Some health benefits of Thyme Tea are:

  • For Respiratory Problems: Thyme tea is really good for respiratory problems. It helps in relieving coughs & congestions. It is one of the most known solutions for curing a cough! Coughing non-stop? Thyme tea will make it go away!
  • Weight Loss: Thyme tea helps in optimizing your metabolism rate & suppress your appetite which is why it is really good for weight loss. It also boosts energy & delivers the body with valuable nutrients.
  • Menstrual Cramps: Good news for all the ladies! Thyme tea helps to ease menstrual cramps and help with your PMS mood swings. Ladies, Happy Much?
  • Improves Cognition: The most common excuse men will you give you for forgetting things or not understanding them is that they’ve got really poor cognition skills. Well, start serving them Thyme tea because Thymol helps increase omega-3 levels in the brain resulting in improved cognition. So, next time he says “Sorry, It isn’t me but my cognition!” You got a solution. It will make your life a lot easier! It also helps prevent age-related problems with cognition.
  • Improved Digestion: Bloating? Constipation? Upset stomach? The antibacterial properties in Thyme can help!
  • Strengthens Immune System: Thyme has high levels of vitamin C which helps with boosting your immune system. It helps with relieving cold & flu.

So, can you think of a better time to try Thyme Tea than winters? You can find Thyme tea bags online or if you’re fond of gardening, try growing them in your garden. They are really easy to grow!

Elderflower Tea
Elderflower Tea
Image Source – Google

Elderflower is a flower of a tree and has many medicinal benefits. It used in many medicines and used as food flavoring. It has antioxidants & antiviral properties. Some benefits of Elderflower tea are:

  • Beat Cold & Flu: The most popular use of Elderflower tea is that it helps fight cold & flu. It is also known as the natural decongestant and helps clear up mucus.
  • Respiratory Problems: Sinus, Asthma, Bronchitis, Tonsillitis, Cold, Chronic Cough etc. have become really common. Elderflower tea helps with these diseases as it boosts up the immune system.
  • Dietary Benefits: Elderflower Tea helps to purify blood & eliminates water retention and bloating in the body.
  • Cholesterol Issues? Drinking Elderflower tea can help as it helps in reducing cholesterol levels in the body.
  • Viral Illness: As per many people, Elderflower tea is helpful in treating viral infections like measles, chicken pox, & shingles.

Why just winters? This tea is a must drink in all the seasons. Respiratory problems have become so common! Why not try this herbal tea and see the effects for ourselves.

Chamomile Tea
Chamomile Tea
Image Source – Google

Chamomile is one of the most popular herbs, and it comes from daisy-like flowers of the Asteraceae plant family. Chamomile Tea is one of the most popular herbal tea. We all must have heard about Chamomile tea but have we tried it? More importantly, do we know about the health benefits of Chamomile Tea? Let’s take a look at them:

  • Helps with Sleep Problems: Insomnia? Or other sleep disorders? Chamomile Tea can help! It will help you sleep faster and have better sleep quality!
  • Menstrual Cramps: Well, good news for all the ladies. Apart from being delicious, Chamomile Tea helps ease the pain of menstrual cramps.
  • Skin Problems: Acne? Sunburn? Dark Circles? Apply Chamomile teabags on the affected areas and see it for yourself!
  • Stress Buster: In today’s world, stress has become really common and this is the most common line you are going to hear around. Well, Chamomile Tea might help! It acts as a relaxant and helps reduce stress levels!
  • Glucose Level: Chamomile Tea helps maintain glucose level in the body which is why it helps in controlling diabetes. It also helps in lowering blood sugar level.
  • Soothes Ulcer Pain: If Chamomile tea is taken regularly, it can help soothe ulcer pains. If you’ve gone through an operation for stones, it can help to prevent the reformation of the stones.
  • Migraines: Chamomile tea is known to be therapeutic and helps to get rid of migraines and severe headaches. It is known to give instant relief from severe headaches!
  • Hair Problems: Chamomile Tea is known to reduce dandruff and give instant shine to hair. You can mix it with henna, and you’ll see positive results for sure!
Fun Facts:
  • Herbal Tea is less commonly known as “Tisanes.”
  • It does not contain Caffeine.
  • Herbal Tea can be served hot or cold.
  • It can help you beat your caffeine addiction.

So, if you haven’t entered the world of Herbal Teas yet, you got to! This winters, make it about being healthy. Beat the cold with these delicious and hearty tea flavors. We know you love your chai and It may take a while to develop a taste for them. But once you do, you will love them for sure!

A cup of tea starts many conversations, unites many people, relives a headache, gives a boost to the brainstorming session, etc. A cup of tea is thus an emotion which is best understood only by a true tea lover. To start a day, to regulate throughout a day, and to end the day, a cup of tea is important for a tea-lover. The prominence of tea given in our country is really massive. People are greeted with a cup of tea and snacks. In train compartments, bus terminals, shopping areas, and nooks and corners of a society – a tea seller is a common sight. Our current Prime Minister was also a tea-seller at some point in his life. So, we Indians have a rich history with our cups of tea.

In any distressful situation, all I can think is a cup of tea. Even when it fails to provide me with a solution, I know that it would sustain me through the tension. So, here are some creative tea types that you must try if you are a hardcore tea-lover.

The recipe of these unique tea types are suggested for preparing 1 cup and thus the measurements would change for more cups.

Cumin Tea/Jeera Chai
Cumin Tea/Jeera Chai
Image Source – Google

When I narrated this idea of Jeera-wali chai, many friends laughed on my face. Without letting them know, when I presented a tray of 6 cups of tea, everyone was praising me and I had a good laugh! Some people like me who love the taste of Jeera would simply drool over this kind of tea. Your tea would smell good and those who require a cup of chai to open their eyes in the morning would get that extra boost! Apart from that cumin is good for digestion, curing respiratory disorders, strengthening immunity, aiding in weight loss, and also treats insomnia. Here are the ingredients to a happy cup of cumin tea!

Milk – ½ cup
Water – ½ cup
Sugar – As per taste
Cumin/Jeera – 1/4th tsp
Tea Leaves – 1 and a half tsp

Boil the milk and water well and add the tea leaves to get the mesmerizing tea color. Once the mixture turns light golden brown, add the Cumin/Jeera and boil to get the darker color. Finally, add the sugar as per your taste and sieve in your favorite tea cup to enjoy the heavenly tea.

Fennel Tea/Saunf Chai
Fennel Tea/Saunf Chai
Image Source – Google

Apart from being a mouth-freshener since ages, fennel is also enjoyed in a variety of dishes to bring a sweet smell. It is scientifically proven that fennel seeds help in preventing diabetes, aids in digestion, and cures constipation. That’s why it is served in restaurants after the meal. Asthma, water retention, bloating, blood pressure, and even cancer is prevented by fennel seeds. It is also great for treating acne and gives you shiny skin.

My dad and uncles became the fan of this cup of fennel tea which according to them resonates with nostalgia! Check out the recipe for this fennel ingested tea.

Milk – 1 cup
Water – ½ cup
Sugar – As per taste
Fennel/Saunf – 1/4th tsp
Tea Leaves – 1 and a half tsp

Bring the milk and water to boil and add the tea leaves and wait till you get that desired color. Now add the fennel seeds and boil for at least 5 minutes to get a wonderful, tasty, and energetic cup of chai. One thing to remember here is that this cup of chai would require less sugar because fennel seeds carry a natural sweetness in it. So, adjust the sugar level.

Ginger & Fennel Tea/Adrak-Saunf Chai

A cup of Adrak-Wali Chai or Ginger tea is the average Indian kind of tea that you would get anywhere in India irrespective of its diversity. Ride into any local train or peep into the local tea shop, you would smell of ginger tea. Like any regular Indian family, at around 7 P.M., I could smell the ginger waving o my study room. And without checking the clock, I used to know it is 7 P.M. This is the time when the working population returned home, maybe some guests have dropped in, or simply the whole family is enjoying their cup of adrak-wali-chai accompanied with savories and Doordarshan. Therefore, this adrak-wali-chai is not only an energizer but also a glue that binds a family together or greets the stranger with a smile. But in today’s changing world, I have changed this tea accompanying fennel for a better taste.

Check out the recipe here:

Milk – 1 cup
Water – ½ cup
Sugar – As per taste
Fennel/Saunf – 1/4th tsp
Crushed Ginger – 1 tsp
Tea Leaves – 1 and a half tsp

Bring the milk and water to boil and add the tea leaves and let it simmer slowly. Once you see the happy golden brown color, drop the crushed ginger and boil for 5 minutes. Now, put the fennel seeds and boil for 3 minutes. Finally, adjust the sugar and relish a cup of romance!

Saffron Tea/Kesar Chai
Saffron Tea/Kesar Chai
Image Source – Google

Kesar or Saffron is something which everyone cannot afford! It is generally grown in India, Iran, and Greece. Over the ages, it has been used for culinary purposes, dyes, and perfumes. Research says that saffron or kesar treats menstrual problems, eye disorders, mental disorders, tumors, and stomach issues. This tea is full of strong flavor and after a stressful day at work, this cup of tea would relive you immensely.

Check the ingredients here and enjoy the lovely tea.

Milk – 1 cup
Water – 2 cup
Saffron – a few strands
Sugar – As per taste
Tea Leaves – 2 tsp
Green Cardamom – 1

Boil the said measurement of water and add cardamom and saffron to get flavors. Once you see the nice golden tinge in the water, add the tea leaves, milk, and sugar one after the other. Let it simmer in medium flame for five minutes. Strain and serve in your favorite teacup.

Tea with Coffee
Tea with Coffee
Image Source – Google

Now, this may sound a little weird but the taste is something that would fill the heart of a chai-premi with utmost love and energy. I am someone who equally loves the scent of tea and coffee beans. Some years ago, I tried to experiment with my cup of regular tea (minus all the spices). I simply added the coffee powder in my cup of tea and all my tension for the day just vanished. The taste of a strong tea with a sprinkle of coffee powder is inexplicable but you must try this one too.

Milk – 1 cup
Water – ½ cup
Sugar – As per taste
Coffee Powder – a pinch to half tsp

Boil milk and water first followed by the addition of your favorite tea leaves. Witness the energetic aroma when it brews and then add the required amount of sugar. Strain it into your mug or cup and sprinkle the coffee powder and give a nice stir. Accompanied with some snacks, this tea would bring a smile on your face for sure.

Rum Tea/Rum Wali Chai
Rum Tea/Rum Wali Chai
Image Source – Google

Who said rum is meant only to be consumed with water and cold drinks? A couple of years ago, this special Old Monk chai saved me from severe sinusitis. During the chilling winter season, when you simply cannot move around the city fearing the cold waves, this is the tea that would save you. It would keep your body warm and fight against all the winter season ailments.

Here is the unique recipe for this tea.

Cardamom – 5 pods
Peppercorns – 3
Cinnamon – 1 inch
Clove – 2
Crushed Ginger – 2 tsp
Water – 2 cups
Tea Leaves – 2 tsp
Condensed Milk – 4 tsp
Old Monk – 30 ml

First of all, you need to crush the dry spices – cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves together. Crush the ginger separately. Now, boil tea leaves and all these spices in water for 3-5 minutes followed by the addition of condensed milk. Finally, add the Old Monk and remove from flame. Strain and serve. In case you don’t want to use condensed milk, you can use 1 cup of milk and 2 tsp of sugar in this tea.

A true tea-lover would find new ways to fall in love with tea in new ways every day. I am one of them. Are you? If yes, try out these amazing tea types and share some of your favorites too!

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