Flashback to circa 2008-the penultimate year of my under graduate degree in Mumbai. I proudly proclaimed to my group of friends that I never consumed any beverages with caffeine or tannin. I never felt the need for them after all. If I was energetic, I stayed up and concentrated on my studies. If not, I slept. Simple. My audience gasped in disbelief. What about during exam time, they wanted to know. I definitely turned in by 10 PM, I answered nonchalantly.
Forward to 2013. A student at a top business school in Singapore, I unabashedly drink 2 cups of coffee and 2 cups of tea a day. This purportedly helps me concentrate in class (oh! it is now necessary to stay awake in class, given that each lecture is worth around S$200) and complete my assignments on time. Being in Singapore though, has made me yearn for the famous cutting elaichi flavored chai that is available in roadside shops. It would be unfair though to say that the chai here is horrid. Tea with milk (Tek Tarik) is quite popular at the ubiquitous food stalls that line my college campus. Not only that, you have variants: teh kosong (tea without sugar), teh C (with evaporated milk and sugar) and teh O (black tea).
I have to confess at this point that although I can critique the tea and coffee I drink to formidable levels, I am not very adept at making it myself. This has had the effect of making me extremely choosy about which brands of ready-made/premix tea and coffee I purchase. To any fanatical chai/coffee addict on the lookout for that perfect cuppa, I would recommend Lipton’s Teh Tarik and Nescafe Regular as the closest to our Indian variant. To those of you that can be a bit more experimental, I have heard that the hazelnut flavor and the Nescafe rich variants are good. I haven’t braved myself enough to try these though.
Having found my perfect cuppa now, I am convinced I can live here now for many more years to come!