Celebrating An Inheritance of Taste from My Father, with Karma Kettle Tea

Celebrating An Inheritance of Taste from My Father, with Karma Kettle Tea

If I’m ever at a place that’s dedicated to teetotalers, I become a ‘tea-totaler‘. Yes, I resort to tea in the absence of alcohol. And, I think I have inherited my love for tea from my father. He, like, most authentic Bengalis, loves to show his refinement of taste through the way he prefers his tea – without milk, without sugar and from Darjeeling. His nose scrunches when he hears of tisanes, he hates masala chai, and he cringes when he smells chamomile tea. And, while enjoying his evening cup of tea, he has passed that love to me.

Celebrating An Inheritance of Taste from My Father, with Karma Kettle Tea: JustODThings

Celebrating An Inheritance of Taste from My Father, with Karma Kettle Tea

I have inherited most of that. In fact, I have grown to become a tepidophobic, and most people think I don’t like tea, when the truth is that I make an active effort to avoid tea in most households in fear of a drink with milk and garam masala. My inherited taste for tea evolved has evolved slightly, though, since I also enjoy an occasional cup of some aromatic herbal brew or tisane, like jasmine tea, hibiscus tea, lemon tea, etc. But, my heart always belongs to Darjeeling tea. I know there are many Bangalis in Kolkata who feel this way. That’s why our choice of gift from Darjeeling for our loved ones is always a packet of tea.

Celebrating An Inheritance of Taste from My Father, with Karma Kettle Tea

Blends of Karma Kettle Tea that will Make You Fall in Love with the Beverage: JustODThings

Blends of Karma Kettle Tea that will Make You Fall in Love with the Beverage

Perhaps that’s the reason Kolkata was the first pick for Dhiraj Arora and Priti Arora to start the flagship store for their tea brand, Karma Kettle. Dhiraj, a tea specialist and Priti, a hospitality industry professional, share a love for all things fine, including tea. And, they have travelled around the world to discover the wide variety of the beverage and its mixes. This was right after Dhiraj turned Cochrane Place in Kurseong into a boutique heritage hotel and tea bar. As for Karma Kettle, the brand offers a collection of the most delightful tea variants. From the classic varieties of Darjeeling Tea, to unique blends like chamomile with jasmine or Oolong Tea with Orange Peels, to the Masala chai – it’s all here. Wherever their travels have taken them, they have discovered new flavours. And they have brought it all to Kolkata!

The Beauty that is The Ivy House

Karma Kettle tea is available in a quaint store located inside The Ivy House at the Swinhoe Street, Ballygunge. The location became one of my favourite things about it; this street is where I’ve walked for fifteen years of my life to get to and from my school. The premises of The Ivy House reminded me of the monochromatic sketches in my English literature textbooks; the pictures of houses with and wooden doors and windows, and ivy on the walls, from those stories, started floating in my mind. I could also remember the beautiful English-style hotel I stayed in during my first visit to Darjeeling as a child, which is one of the happiest experiences in my life.

Karma Kettle Tea Store and Tea Room inside The Ivy House: JustODThings

Karma Kettle Tea Store and Tea Room inside The Ivy House

I was there for a tea-tasting session with other bloggers in the presence of the owners. We soon got to discussing how the garden should make an incredible space for a cafe, amid the dank fragrance of greenery. There’s a store inside that beautifully showcases their tea collection. There are rooms available here, as well, but my experience involved sitting inside their quaint tea room. Just the ambience was an experience in itself.

Tasting Different Tea Shots!

A tea connoisseur will vouch that appreciating tea is no less than appreciating wine. You have to have a nose for flavours to fall in love with it. My father has always encouraged me to drink tea the right way – you know, the usual “savour the fragrance, take small sips, and let the aroma roll in the mouth” stuff. The aftertaste and the flavours left back inside the mouth truly helps to recognise and appreciate the complexity of a cup of slightly tinted, watery drink, very often with an undertone of bitterness from tannin. I have developed the habit of following these steps while drinking my tea. Sadly, I have no knowledge about the different kinds of tea. However, each and every tea I tried at Karma Kettle stood out.

Adorable Cupcakes that We Had with Karma Kettle Tea Shots: JustODThings

Adorable Cupcakes that We Had with Karma Kettle Tea Shots

Darjeeling Tea Blends:

We started with the medium bodied Darjeeling Second Flush, with tones muscat and orange, and the rest kept coming. Now, I may not know anything about tea, and have zero technical knowedge of how to recognise the characteristics of different tea types. But, even to the senses of a leyman like me, each of them felt different. The Darjeeling Red Thunder blend had a rich, dark-gold colour, and a bold, complex flavours. Himalayan Moonshine, a drink from minimally oxidised leaves that are handpicked only during full moon. Passionátealy, a black tea mix with passionfruit and mangoes.

Green Tea Blends:

Next, we had Marrakech, a green tea with spearmint. The Kashmiri Kahwa blend of green tea, Gulmarg, had the flavours of safflower petals, apricot, saffron, toasted almond, cardamom, and cinnamon. Shanti turned out to be a Sencha green tea with jasmine blossoms. Another surprising green tea blend was Aam Salaam, with green mango, fennel and ginger! The Mount Fuji Series of Genmaicha tea is a blend of roasted red and brown rice, and roasted corn kernels with Sencha green leaves, also known as the popcorn tea! My favourite, however, was Istanbul, a green tea blend with apple, berries, strawberries, rose petals, lemon peel, and hibiscus flowers; it had many layers of flavours, and a sweetness from the fruits!

Tisanes:

Aside from the classic and innovative mixes of Karma Kettle tea, there were some caffeine- free tisanes for us, too, like Nathula, a surpsiring blend of Rhododendron flowers with Marigold and Basil, and Santorini, a beverage with a rose-gold colour, and packed with the flavours of Sage, Sweet Basil, Peppermint, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, and Marjoram. The Chamomile blend with Lemongrass, Bliss, surprised me – I loved it, even though I’m not a fan of chamomile tea in general! Next we had Karakoram, a blend of lavender, sea buckthorn, and nettle.

A Variety of Innovative Karma Kettle Tea and Tisane Blends: JustODThings

A Variety of Innovative Karma Kettle Tea and Tisane Blends

Other Surprises:

We tried Great Wall, a Dragonwell blend of Longjin tea, pandan leaves, lemongrass, lychee, sour cherries, musk melon, and melon seeds. Seville  was a blend of Oolong tea with mandarin orange peel; Travancore, a blend of Black tea, coconut and kokum, had flavours from Indian coasts; Table Mountain, a mix of Rooibos tea with liquorice, sage, fennel and vanilla had flavours I didn’t expect in a cup of tea. Then came my dreaded masala chai, Benares. Surprisingly It had the aromas of the Indian spices but in an amazingly subtle amount, and no milk. The biggest surprise was Maya, a blend of  Assam and Nilgiri black tea, with cocoa nibs, butterscotch, white chocolate and dark chocolate bits. Every sip was like the illusion of having a chocolate – the flavours were intact, without the taste. My love and curiosity for tea earned me an additional cup of this beauty!

Tea Packages and Accessories

Karma Kettle Tea Packages and Accessories: JustODThings

Karma Kettle Tea Packages and Accessories

At Karma Kettle, you will find tea in different packages. Some are available as loose leaves. You can also choose the tea bags. Interestingly, the tea bags here are in the shape of little pyramids. This is to allow the shrivelled tea leaves to unfurl one they touch the hot water. This way, the brew will derive the optimum flavour from the leaves. Then there are the metallic tea sticks which are perfect for iced tea. If someone you love loves tea, then you can also find some attractive gift sets here. And, to enhance your tea drinking experience, the brand also offers a collection of beautiful accessories in attractive colours!

How I Fell in Love with Karma Kettle Tea

As my father says, appreciating the real beauty of tea, without the taste of milk or sugar to confuse the palate, requires time and dedication. But, once you fall in love with it, you realise that tea is more than just a beverage that we have with tea at home every evening. It’s an experience, an emotion. And, Karma Kettle store and Ivy House made me experience a surge of emotions; thankfully, all of them were happy ones.

Classic Karma Kettle Tea - for 'Tea-totalers' Like My Father and I: JustODThings

Classic Karma Kettle Tea – for ‘Tea-totalers’ Like My Father and I

I loved the tea blends and the tisanes. But, my heart belongs to the classic Darjeeling blends, which belong to the brand’s celebration series. Every sip of the Karma Kettle tea explained, once again, my father’s love for tea, and the reason he decided to pass on that love to me. It reminded why I have grown to love tea. Plus, the ivy on the walls, the private garden, the white windows, and the ambience dug up some beautiful pictures from deep down inside my mind. The tea-tasting session was an experience I would like to revisit. All for the love of a cup of heaven from the Himalayas… A love I have inherited from, and now share with, my father.

Oendrila De

The unique, odd, crazy journey of OD, i.e. Oendrila in the world of fashion, food and everything else in this big, bad, beautiful world.

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1 Response

  1. September 24, 2017

    […] already talked about the amazing the food at Fuji, and diverse and beautiful collection of tea at Karma Kettle. There’s hardly anything new that I can say about these places. It’s exciting that they […]

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