Chai Pe Charcha was my second walk with Raconteur Walks in Mumbai. Launching a number of different tours in August, this was a part of their Pay What You Want campaign, where walkers only paid ₹150 to register and at the end of the walk, an additional amount they thought the walk should be priced at.
I enjoyed this walk for many reasons. First, I was already familiar with Raconteur’s specialised and detail-oriented tours. Second, this was a good 3-hour long walk, which felt comfortable after the very quick Dhobi Ghat walk. Third, I was walking through some of my favourite lanes and haunts and yet didn’t know the stories they told. And lastly, everyone who knows me is well aware of my obsession with chai.
These were our chai stops.
Tapri 1: San-cha in Kala Ghoda: I am amazed at how beautifully this small tea boutique has been done. This upscale tea parlour serves and sells tea sourced from Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri hills. While Suhail explained the processes and the varieties of tea to our group of 15, the tea tasting began with light-bodied, spring, black tea; followed by a medium-bodied Darjeeling muscatel. The white tea rich in antioxidants was next and we concluded with the maharani iced tea which is a black tea with vetiver, effusing a distinct flavour of rose. After a long and informative visit here, we spent a few minutes taking photos and then walked onward to our next stop.
Tapri 2: Cutting chai near Churchgate station: Every Mumbaikar’s favourite, the half glass of tea is like a shot of tea that keeps them going through the day. I enjoy this milk tea for its strong flavour. This one is made for a true blue Mumbaikar.
Located amidst busy offices, here we met Ramesh who always has his tea vessel steeping and ready. I was refreshed by the masala cutting chai he served, which came as a respite after the long walk from Kala Ghoda to Churchgate. Every Sunday is his day off.
Tapri 3: Irani chai at Café Excelsior: I have to admit, I only knew Excelsior because of its legendary caramel custard. But this time, the bun maska with the Irani chai was an unbelievable combination. Following the traditional way of drinking tea in India, I dipped the soft buttered bread into the cup of milky, sweet tea. Heavenly! Sometimes, this one moment sums up the day.
Here we bid goodbye to each other. After the long walk, I felt a satisfying exhaustion come over me. Garnished by the diverse tea tasting and doused by a wealth of information on Mumbai, my evening ended on a high note.
Good to know:
-My group had people from all walks of life. It was very interactive and encouraging, especially since it was quite a long walk.
-Raconteur ensures that the total number of people in a group never exceeds ten. This was an exception because it was an introductory walk with many participants interested.
–Write to them to know when is the next Chai Pe Charcha or any other interesting walk scheduled. They’re very prompt on emails and on their Facebook page.
–This is the route we took.
Have you walked around your favourite city yet?