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International Tea Day

Brewing adda: Must-visit tea spots that keep Kolkata’s culture alive

On International Tea Day, My Kolkata gives you a quick tour of the most popular tea stalls in the city

Barnini Maitra Chakraborty | Published 21.05.24, 06:56 PM
'Anytime is teatime' at these popular tea shops in Kolkata

'Anytime is teatime' at these popular tea shops in Kolkata

Soumyajit Dey and Shutterstock

Ek cup cha hoye jaak? These five words are more than just a phrase — it’s a sentiment ingrained in Bengali culture — enough to strike up a conversation or spark a debate — from films to football and, of course, politics — and forge friendships across ages. If Mumbai has its cutting chai, Kolkata has its famous bhanrer cha, which at times are replaced by glasses or chipped cups. The ubiquitous tea stalls in almost every neighbourhood corner have been witness to many interesting addas, romantic moments, heartbreaks and stories from the past.

While roker adda might have taken a back seat, sipping a hot bhanrer cha still remains essential to residents of Kolkata

While roker adda might have taken a back seat, sipping a hot bhanrer cha still remains essential to residents of Kolkata

On International Tea Day, My Kolkata takes you through some of the city’s most popular tea shops and stalls that you must visit.

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Radhu Babu’s Tea Shop

Established in 1930 by Radha Kishore Dutta, it is touted to be the first tea shop in Kolkata

Established in 1930 by Radha Kishore Dutta, it is touted to be the first tea shop in Kolkata

Soumyajit Dey

Radhu Babu’s Tea Shop is not just any tea shop, it’s a heritage site steeped in history. Established in 1930 by Radha Kishore Dutta, a revolutionary devoted to the Indian Freedom Movement, it is touted to be the first tea shop in Kolkata. More than just a mere adda spot for tea lovers, office goers and morning and evening walkers, it has been a silent witness to many Naxalite stories and plans in the past.

The shop sells two types of tea — milk tea and black tea — both served in paper cups and priced at Rs 9 per cup. You can also try their toast and omelettes, along with the tea, for breakfast. In the evening, they serve a variety of snacks, like fish fry, fish rolls, prawn cutlets and more, to go with your choice of tea. The pavement in front of the shop is often filled with customers. The legacy continues with the third generation of the family maintaining the tradition.

Location: 8A, Near, Janak Rd, Lake Market, Kalighat,

Timings: 6am-10am and 4pm-8pm

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Tanki Chai

It was started almost a century ago by Mahendra Singh’s grandfather, Juhuri Singh, who moved to Kolkata from Bihar looking for work

It was started almost a century ago by Mahendra Singh’s grandfather, Juhuri Singh, who moved to Kolkata from Bihar looking for work

TT Archive

Have you ever heard of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s tea shop on Bentinck Street? Famous for its giant samovar (a large metallic urn) or tanki, to boil water in, the shop has had a loyal local clientele for many years. It was started almost a century ago by Mahendra Singh’s grandfather, Juhuri Singh, who moved to Kolkata from Bihar looking for work. Juhuri Singh then set up the shop to cater to office-goers, investing in a samovar to make more tea at one go. The same vessel is still in use today and is likely to be only one of its kind in Kolkata. Here, you’ll get a bhanr of tea for Rs 15.

Location: 61 Bentinck Street

Timings: 6am to 11pm

Faltu Tea Centre

Established about 40 years ago, the shop offers Malai Toast, sandwiches and other quick bites, alongside tea

Established about 40 years ago, the shop offers Malai Toast, sandwiches and other quick bites, alongside tea

Soumyajit Dey

Don’t go by its name, for names can be deceptive. Just a few steps ahead of Tanki Chai, is Faltu Tea Centre on Bentinck Street. The shop is primarily flocked by office goers. Established about 40 years ago, the shop offers Malai Toast, sandwiches and other quick bites, alongside tea. Opening before dawn at 4 am and running until 11 pm, it sells tea at Rs 10 for a medium-sized bhanr and Rs 15 for a large one.

Location: 66, Bentinck Street

Timings: 4am to 11pm

Tea stalls on Dacres Lane

Do visit Shyam Sundar Tea Stall, a 40-year-old establishment,  which is located on the right as you enter Dacres Lane

Do visit Shyam Sundar Tea Stall, a 40-year-old establishment, which is located on the right as you enter Dacres Lane

Soumyajit Dey

The food gully of Kolkata’s office para is not just about food stalls, as we know, it’s also popular for its hot piping tea. Many tea stalls in the area are always flocked by customers sipping their cuppa. While some stalls offer tea in bhanrs, others still serve it in white cups and saucers.

Soumyajit Dey

Soumyajit Dey

This 25-year-old tea stall is famous for serving the best tea in the area, with a constantly burning clay oven and a kettle on it

Shyam Sundar Tea Stall, a 40-year-old establishment, is located on the right as you enter Dacres Lane, selling a hot bhanr of tea for Rs 8. Another popular spot, just a few steps ahead, is Mona’s Tea Shop. This 25-year-old tea stall is famous for serving the best tea in the area, with a constantly burning clay oven and a kettle on it. Catering to office goers, shopkeepers, vendors and passersby, Mona sells hundreds of cups of tea daily, priced at Rs 8 per bhanr.

Chitto Babur Dokan, now famous for its stew and toast, began its journey by selling tea and toast

Chitto Babur Dokan, now famous for its stew and toast, began its journey by selling tea and toast

Barnini Maitra Chakraborty

No mention of Dacres Lane would be complete without Chitto Babur Dokan. Although customers love its stew and toast, this shop began its journey by selling tea and toast. Here, tea is served in white cups, priced at Rs 10 per cup.

Location: Dacre’s lane (James Hickey Sarani)

Timings: 6am to 9pm

Dilip’s Tea with condensed milk

The shop’s motto being ‘quality tea for quality people’, owner Dilip takes his own sweet time to ensure each cup is perfect

The shop’s motto being ‘quality tea for quality people’, owner Dilip takes his own sweet time to ensure each cup is perfect

Barnini Maitra Chakraborty

Love Darjeeling brew? Then you must drop by at Dilip’s Tea stall on Southern Avenue. This quaint 40-year-old shop is well known for its unique preparation of tea with condensed milk. Dilip Mukherjee, the owner, manages everything single-handedly. Despite the high demand, with 250 to 300 cups of tea sold every day, Dilip never rushes. The shop’s motto being ‘quality tea for quality people’, Dilip takes his own sweet time to ensure each cup is perfect. The shop is always bustling with regular customers, who come back to relish the tea over and over again.

Location: 2\3 B Southern Avenue

Timings: 6.30 am to 11am and 3.30pm to 7pm (open on Saturdays In the morning and closed on Sundays).

Lonka Cha at Jeeter Tea Shop

Amit Datta

Covid has changed many lives. While some were left jobless, others were forced to shut their businesses. Amidst this crisis, some individuals have found new ways to earn a living. Sarijeet Jeet’s story is one such example. During the lockdown, he lost his job at a tailoring shop but refused to give up. Instead, he opened a tea stall named Jeeter Tea Shop. Initially, it was like any other local tea stall, until Jeet decided to experiment. He added green chilies and some masala to the black tea, creating a unique flavour that everyone loved. The tea’s popularity soared, attracting even ministers and celebrities. Here, a cup of Lonka Cha is priced at Rs 15. Besides tea, the stall also offers a variety of summer special drinks, like lassi, masala cold drinks, iced tea and more.

Location: F9FR+379, Baishnabghata Patuli Township (near the Patuli fire station)

TImings: 10.30 am to 10pm( Monday the stall opens in the second half)

Last updated on 21.05.24, 07:21 PM
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