A young saadhu smiles as he takes a sip from a glass of cutting chai. Labourers wait in queue to get their morning cups of tea. An old man in Kashmir nurses his cup of noon chai (salty tea). Kullads full of sweet milky tea being served. All of these images resonate with Indians over the world as the fondness for tea is a common denominator in the subcontinent.
'Chai: The Experience of Indian Tea by Rekha Sarin and Rajan Kapoor' delves into the intricacies of tea and its significance in regional culture. The reader travels into the world of chai and into its history to be informed about how the beverage came to be grown in India and the events that shaped its trade with the Western world.
The dhaba culture in India where people tuck in pakore and samosas with their extra sweet cup of tea and the kahwa consumed in Kashmir — all find their space in this tome that chronicles the tea-drinking culture of India. Tea drinking is a global phenomenon and the tradition in England as well as tea in Europe, France, Germany, Japan and in several other countries has been included by the authors.
Tea lovers will find much that piques their interest from the chapter dedicated to darjeeling tea to the section on tea estates in India. A layman might enjoy the deep insight into the history of tea as well. What makes the book stand out, are the exceptional images taken at various destinations in India that capture the significance of the beverage in people's lives so well.