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    Tea connoisseurs have a new destination with a popular Mumbai-based cafe opening an outlet in Neelankarai.

    IF you’re on East Coast Road and feel like a hot beverage, Tea Trails, a gourmet café chain, that has  opened its second outlet (after Ashok Nagar in earlier this year) in Neelankarai is a good bet. The quaint 38-seater cafe has warm interiors, complete with wooden flooring and turquoise furniture. The brainchild of the four partners at Zone8 Tea World, a food manufacturing and trading enterprise, the Tea Trails legacy began in Mumbai in 2013 and has since expanded to 26 outlets across cities like Bengaluru and Chennai. “Our passion for tea took us around the world to experiment and identify the right kind of blends for the Indian palate. We’ve handpicked close to 80 varieties of the finest teas from around the world, along with many variants of local chai,” says Sanjay S Potti, co-founder and CEO.

    Perfect blend
    Despite our Rs 19,500-crore tea industry growing at a rate of 25 per cent annually, and the ratio of consumption of tea being more than 10 cups (versus one cup of coffee)—the sworn coffee lover in me is not convinced. But after a mini tea ceremony with specials served in glass infusers, and a hourglass to time it, I am sold. While the Silver Needle, a mild white tea with a fruity aftertaste, and the Smokey Lapaang, a smokey brew, are refreshing, my pick is the Kashmiri Kahwa—a strongly-brewed cup of green tea, spices and almonds, with a rich aftertaste. These are best enjoyed hot and without sugar. For those who fancy a little milk in their tea, the kullad chai is a good alternative.

    Snack essentials
    Potti suggests I try the marbled egg salad—tea-soaked boiled eggs with a garlic-flavoured dressing. Their spongy bun maska, with its abundance of sugar and butter, is not for the calorie counters. Do try the delicious Better Wife, a curiously-named mocktail with a mild citrus and mint flavour and a the milkshake-like consistency. “To maintain a standard of quality, we use only whole leaf teas in our outlets and retail stores, procuring them from premium gardens in the country and beyond,” says Potti. The leaves are then blended and flavoured at their production facility in Mumbai and sent to other outlets. After a day spent with some fine varieties of tea, I must admit, my loyalties have changed.
    Teas from Rs 80 onwards.Details: 49587161

    — Lavanya Lakshminarayanan

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