The Telegraph
Friday , September 21 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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“Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world.” — T’ien Yiheng

For a city that loves its beverages as much as its food, a piping hot destination has thrown open its doors just when everyone is looking for that extra spike that doesn’t read caffeine.

The Tea Bush Table aka TTBT, if abbreviations are your game, popped open its tin of brews on Tuesday at 5B Ashton Road (between Hotel Samilton and Jai Hind Dhaba, off Sarat Bose Road) with cuppas like Oriental Sencha, Darjeeling Orthodox, Cranberry and more.

The 35-seater cafe is the brainchild of Mayank K. Agarwal and wife Shivani Shah Agarwal, who own a tea garden in upper Assam.

“Having had tea in my family for years now, I really wanted people to wake up to its innumerable flavours. I travelled all over the world, specially China and Japan, and came across at least 1,500 varieties of flavours that I wanted to carry back,” said Mayank, also known as ‘Tea Planter’ (while Shivani is the ‘Tea Taster’).

The couple wanted to give Calcutta something not just to wake up to, but also savour. “I selected 30 flavours from the 1,500 varietals. It was a tough job. But what was tougher was getting that perfect location for the cafe. We wanted it at a place that people would drop by. The landlords in the city did give us a very hard time,” laughed Shivani.

On Tuesday, six different flavours were poured for a tea-tasting session and there was a story to go with each sip — if the Oriental Sencha green tea came from Mayank’s travels to China, herbal infusion Ginger Lemon was named after wife Shivani’s medicine for sleep-walking!

TTBT offers regular black teas like the Assams and the Darjeelings to fruit infusions like cardamom, cranberry, bergamot and even mango and strawberry. Then there are, of course, the Greens, Oolongs, Pu-erhs and Flowering Teas, the last being sheer magic, all at a pocket pinch of anywhere between Rs 60 and Rs 200 a cup.

First-timers can go for the Oriental Sencha, “a tea mixed with herbs”, with a blend of jasmine and lemon grass, recommended Mayank. For Shivani, however, it was the Mango and Strawberry Fruit Infusion. “It is a must for non-tea lovers,” she smiled.

Other flavours to get you started are Kukicha, a green tea from Japan, Cranberry, a black tea mixed with fruit, and Darjeeling Orthodox, our very own black tea.

And if you’re wondering whether it’s all about tea, then up comes the menu, which has Mexican, Italian, Lebanese bites to go with the brew. “There are also the English specials like Bangers and Mash (sausage served with mashed potato) and Bubble and Squeak (a potato dish), that go down well with black tea. It’s more like a bistro, but without the alcohol,” said Mayank.

PS: There’s a huge trunk of a tea bush from 1870 up against the wall bang in the middle of the bistro. Having survived two World Wars and an earthquake, if the brews don’t stir things up, this will!