First Flush in Kolkata: An Addabaaj Bangali’s Heaven
Talk about Kolkata, and one of the characteristics of the city to be listed out will be the indispensable “Adda”. The true vibe of the city is present in the adda of the Bengali folks, as they gather and discuss everything from Donald Trump to Donald Duck. And, in all these high-spirited discussions and exchange of thoughts and ideas, the one thing that can be considered integral is tea! The youth still hosts its addas in Coffee House and Jadavpur University compound. But, those who want it less noisy, and more chic hog cafés. It’s no surprise when a new tea joint or café comes up in the city. And, the newest in the block is First Flush Kolkata. As an addabaaj Bangali tea-lover, I have fallen head over heels in love with this Darjeeling themed tea boutique!
First Flush in Kolkata: An Addabaaj Bangali’s Heaven
First Flush in Golpark, Kolkata
Speaking of all things quintessentially Bangali, I have to mention Darjeeling. Admit it – you have been there, more than once. You can take a Bangali out of Darjeeling, but you can’t take Darjeeling out of a Bangali. It’s in our blood, and Darjeeling tea is in our DNA. That’s where this new café gets its name. When it comes to Darjeeling tea, the term ‘tea flush’ refers to the different seasons or time periods of the year during which tea is harvested. First Flush tea is the brand-new leaves picked as early as February, lasting through April. The name itself is enough for a tea lover to know what this place is all about – the Queen of the Hills, and her heavenly nectar.
Inside this dainty café in Golpark, the ‘Darjeeling’ is palpable. I had an immediate flashback of the drawing space of the Lolegaon bungalow, and the sun-kissed corridors of Hotel Pineridge in Darjeeling. Wooden windows, white walls, photographs of the mountains and its people, shelves full of china, wicker furniture… the ambience of First Flush and its owners Mr. Subhasis Mitra and Ms. Tapasi Banerjee welcomed me with the warmth of childhood memories.
My blogger friends and I, after a wonderful Oriental lunch, walked into this café and found other groups engrossed in their own addas. I noticed that every time new guests came in, every arrangement was made, including moving the table and chairs around, just to make them comfortable. Ms. Banerjee reminisced how she had once banged her head into another diner at CCD. That’s why, she made sure this café isn’t crammed, so guests can enjoy space and privacy of conversations.
The “Cha” arrived.
All around this unique tea boutique, there are some beautiful sets of delicate china, along with containers of tea leaves. So, of course, we knew we would have to try some first flush tea, the champagne of the tea world! Now, I demand eight cups of liquor tea a day. Naturally, I was excited to be here. And, as our adda kicked off, ‘cha’ arrived.
This is no lebu cha in clay cups, or masala tea brewed with all possible spiced available in an Indian kitchen. This is the beautifully aromatic, delicately golden Arya Ruby tea. It came on a pretty trolley, with a sand tea timer, and was served glass crockery. Oh, the tea! Fresh and floral flavour, gentle taste, and vibrant colour – that’s what I live for – to savour a cup of Darjeeling in small sips, filling up my senses like Anne possibly did.
And then came the “Ta”!
What’s cha without is better half, Ta? Plates of belly-warming delights arrived for us to snack on. Well, it was more than just snacks, actually. We enjoyed some incredible items from their food menu, like the Chicken Lollipop, Fish Fingers, Basil Chicken Skewers, Egg and Mayo Sandwich, and Chicken Burger. We also requested for the Bacon Cheese Bombs, and Ms. Banerjee seemed more than happy to oblige. And, finally a sweet surprise.
We started with the Chicken Lollipop, which was surprisingly large for chicken lollipops and filling, and a little bit on the sweeter side.
This was followed by the perfectly crispy Fish Fingers which were fresh and juicy on the inside and went brilliantly with the tartar sauce and julienned green salad.
The Chicken Burger that came in next with a side of glorious French fries, had a thick and juicy patty inside, between layers of greens and cheese slice!
Basil Chicken Skewers
The Basil Chicken Skewers that I tried next tasted like the perfect partner of tea with its gentle flavours, and a peppery, smoky quality and I had a wintry feel in my belly, the warm, fuzzy feeling that makes me happy during this season.
Egg and Mayo Sandwiches
Another comfort food arrived – the Egg and Mayo Sandwiches with chips. Perfectly grilled bread slices with a fluffy-as-clouds filling of eggs and mayo in between them: what could be better for an evening tea?
Bacon Cheese Bombs
After this, my special request came out of the kitchen – a plateful of what I call fat bombs: cheese wrapped in bacon, on a stick. One bite of this simple item, and what you get is a heavenly burst of flavours and textures. Soft, gooey cheese and delicious, flavourful bacon: what could go wrong? This remains my absolute favourite at First Flush!
And the Surprise Cake
Just as we were about to exchange our thoughts on the toasty hospitality we had just received at First Flush, a sweet surprise arrived – a beautiful chocolate cake! The surprise was not just its arrival, but also how it tasted. It was perfectly chocolaty, and tasted perfect, without too much sweetness. And it was oh-so-light! It melted in the mouth and did just what a good chocolate cake should do: it made me feel happy!
Why I’ve made up my mind to return
First Flush might be a first-of-its-kind tea boutique, with all the exclusive beverages from the most beautiful hills of Bengal, but it is more than just that. It seemed like the den for the cultured Bangalis and their erudite chats, for people of all ages to sit, relax, catch up and discuss life. Not a fan of tea? You can get other special beverages, too. First Flush is sophisticated and Bengali, in the truest sense. At a time when our addas have moved from the watery cuppa at Coffee House to cocktails in the local lounge bar, when our want for ‘Ek Cup Cha” has been replaced by coffee dates at CCD, First Flush is a piece of our very own Darjeeling in the heart of Kolkata – the perfect respite for the addabaaj Bangali.