I’m rather partial to a nice cup of tea – not too strong, not too weak, no sugar. So when feeling a little parched in New Delhi I had a very unexpected but pleasant surprise at the Taj Palace Hotel.
It was mid-morning, we fancied a cuppa, and we were right on the doorstep of the Taj Palace; they’ve gotta be serving tea and coffee we thought and popped in. The first sign that this was something a bit special came with the menu – an encyclopedic menu! It took a while to select from the large, hard-backed tome which offered over 90 estate teas and 20 premium coffees from the world over. After much dithering – it’s never good for me to have too much choice – I went for a medium strength Darjeeling.
The ‘Taj Tea Lounge’, located straight through the entrance lobby, is a light, airy space filled with lush, green palms and high-backed chairs overlooking the putting green beyond. All terribly colonial. The hotel is doing its bit for CSR by displaying works of art by hopeful, unknown artists, although they do come at a price.
The tea arrived carried by a young waitress wearing a crisp white jacket and cotton gloves. The silver tray was beautifully set with china cup and saucer, light-as-a-feather biscuit, tea strainer and glass of iced water. Carefully arranged, the handles all faced the same direction and the handle of the silver teapot had its own little cover. On the table the waitress placed the ‘Perfect Tea Timer’. This odd contraption consisted of three sand-filled timers in the colours of the Indian flag; green – three minutes light, orange – four minutes medium, white – five minutes strong. ‘How would you like your tea Madam; light, medium or strong?’ I replied medium please. ‘I’ll come back in four minutes to pour it Madam.’ She was back in precisely four minutes and poured with due ceremony without spilling a single drop! An aromatic mist wafted from the rich amber liquid as I took a sip. And how was it? Absolutely bloody marvellous!
Only in India could we have popped in for a cuppa and come out having had a wonderful experience and a pretty amazing cup of tea.
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea”