Did you know that Oolong tea and waffles work as a perfect combination or that white bliss tea will taste best with a fruit platter or bun maska? More importantly, did you know that there are endless varieties of teas like Oolong, Green, Herbal, Black, White, Yellow, Fermented? Offering tea connoisseurs a chance to have a gourmet experience, Tea Trails — which recently expanded its footprint in Pune with its fifth branch in the city at Westend Mall, Aundh, and has cafes in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Vishakhapatnam, Chikamangalore and Lucknow — has embarked on an interesting journey of changing the rules of the game in the cafe space. Offering people a chance to experience over 80 varieties of teas with various blends and added health benefits from across the world, the styles range from white to green, oolong to herbal, along with a variety of freshly-brewed chais like adrak, pudina, five spices, masala, lemongrass, etc to choose from.
Tea Trails also offers bubble teas like the Taiwanese Bubble Tea and Tapioca Bubble Tea. It further specialises in an elaborate tea-infused food menu. The signature tea-infused dishes include Burmese Tea Salad, Tea Marbled Eggs, Tea Infused Thai Bowl and more.
Talking about her journey, Kavita Mathur, founder, Tea Trails, who has been an educationist by profession and tea enthusiast by passion, says, “As a young girl, I always had a lot of teaware. Now, as a health freak, I love to read about what is trending around the world. I started reading about green tea and tried it, but it would invariably give me a lot of heartburn and acidity. That piqued my interest all the more about where I was going wrong. Fortunately or unfortunately, in the last few years, I have travelled a lot to the US and we would take a pit stop at Europe or China which are actually the tea drinking nations.” Travelling helped her explore a lot about the various types of teas initially as a hobby.
Eventually, she started cooking and experimenting with tea in her own kitchen.
But even though she fondly talks about gourmet tea, the concept is relatively new for people here. “Gourmet tea, according to me, is the fusion of tea in every area that you can think of, be it your cold beverages, hot beverages, food and desserts. Initially, when we were experimenting, we had focus groups and received a lot of encouragement from family and friends who prompted us to explore. To play it safe, we started with a lot of black tea because we believed that India would be more receptive to a strawberry black tea and so on. But to our surprise, people were appreciating Assam, Darjeeling or Nilgiri teas more than the flavoured varieties. Since then, there was no stopping,” she says.
According to Mathur, you can’t mess it up when using tea in your food. She says, “I believe that tea has a lot of flavours and aromas but if you are using mild tea and adding too much of Indian spices while cooking or marinating the food, the flavours get overpowered by these spices. So you have to be very careful about picking the right kind. For instance, Lapsang Souchong, which has a smoky intense flavour, or Earl Grey, which has a significant flavour of bergamot, can be used to cook fish due to their dominant flavours.”
The menu at Tea Trails keeps evolving. “We are offering items like waffles or hand-tossed pizza,” she says adding, “High-end cafes too are introducing new tea in their menu every month so I think the market has opened up and youngsters are realising its health benefits. We have also taken a conscious decision of not using tea bags since tea requires space to expand and emit the aroma that is slightly difficult in a teabag.”
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You can head over to the Tea Trails at Erandwane, Baner, Westend Mall - Aundh, Amanora - Hadapsar, Rainbow Plaza - Pimple Saudagar for a gourmet tea experience.