Talk of beverages and the Millennium City today has a lot to offer; from the coffee shops including the CCDs to the brand new cozy cafes serving the most delicious mocktails and cool drinks! And, while many youngsters can be seen flocking to these cafes to enjoy the drink of their choice in a trendy set-up, the demand for the roadside ‘chaha’ still hasn’t faded away in this part of the state.The milky brew magic continues to enchant the quintessential Cuttackiya who loves to discuss matters of the world over a cup of hot tea with his friends standing on the roadside. And, the number of stalls spread across the nook and cranny of the city stand testimony to the fact that Cuttackies love their tea time! My City Links brings you the famous chahawallahs of Cuttack, who continue to have a loyal customer base despite the entry of coffee shops and theme-based cafes and have indeed come a long way in this old city.
Rao Tea Stall
Undoubtedly, the most popular chahawallah of Cuttack, D Prakash Rao is known not just for his good tea but also his good heart. Rao, who has caught the attention of both national and regional media, has been spending half of his earnings to run a school where he educates slum children. So, he is a tea-seller in the morning and a teacher by the day
However, his social work notwithstanding, he makes amazing tea and serves it with the most welcoming smile. The tea stall located at Buxi Bazar was, in fact, started by his father in the 1990s. Rao used to help his father in the tea shop as a kid. “I always wanted to complete my education but was not able to. So, eventually, I looked after my father’s tea shop and right now I am running this tea stall to fund the education of slum children and also support my family,” says Rao.
The lemon masala tea is his specialty. With six basic ingredients – black pepper, black salt, dry ginger, ajwain , jaljeera and hing, this masala tea has the most unique flavour and costs Rs. 7 per cup. One can also enjoy a cup of milk tea and coffee (both milk and black) at his stall.
Taste apart, Rao pays a lot of attention to hygiene and therefore makes it a point to purify the water with Halazone USP based chlorine tablets before using it for making tea. “We always use fresh water and add the Halazone tablets instead of keeping stock water,” he informs.
With a long list of customers from all across the city, Rao, for sure, is one of the most ‘in demand’ tea sellers of Cuttack.
Munu Bhai Tea Stall
Located near Barabati stadium, Munu Bhai tea stall is a big attraction among the young boys of Cuttack because here one can enjoy the tasty and refreshing ‘gua ghee’ tea of Munu bhai in a healthy khatti environment. Although ghee in tea may sound Greek to many, Munu Bhai boils his milk to such an extent that it gives an extremely rich taste which his customers love.
Run by Munu bhai and his son Tapan, this 10-year-old tea stall opens up at 4 am in the morning and provides hot cups of tea to satisfied customers till 10 in the night. While they started with a cup of tea costing Rs 1.50, the price has now shot up to Rs. 7 per cup. “If it’s a plastic cup, it is Rs. 7 but for paper cups, we charge Rs. 8. Every day, about 100 liters of tea is prepared and we have a good number of happy customers. It gets better during Baliyatra when around 400 liters of tea is prepared every day,” says Munu Bhai.
Tea lovers across age groups come here to enjoy hot tea and the open fresh air. For college-goers in particular, this is a popular khatti destination. “Evening is the most preferred time for customers. Some come with friends, some with family. After relishing the hot dahi bara aloodum at the stadium, they prefer our hot steaming tea,” says Munu Bhai with a smile.
No. I Tea Stall
It isn’t just the name but this 40-year-old tea stall at Ranihat is indeed the number one choice for many Cuttackies. Run by Kapil Charan Mohapatra and his son Raghunath Mohapatra, this tea stall is one of the oldest in the city.
“We don’t add any special ingredients to our tea. It’s just the taste that works with our customers. We boil the milk till it becomes dense and that enhances the taste and our customers love that,” says Raghunath.
He goes on, “Around two quintals of tea is prepared daily and morning is the time when most of the customers prefer to have hot tea at my tea stall, specially the joggers. We sold our first cup of tea at 15 paise per cup but today we are selling it at Rs. 7 per cup; that speaks about our journey. We also take care of hygiene. Though we don’t use mineral water, we use water from filters to prepare our tea.”
Customers too vouch for the taste and hygiene. “Before going to college in the morning, I prefer to start my day with a cup of hot tea at No 1 tea stall as the taste just refreshes my mood and energises me,” says a B.Tech student Pramit Karmakar.
Bichi Cha Dokaan
Yet another popular tea stall of Cuttack, Bichi Cha Dokaan is run by Bichitra Nanda Mantri. Located near Fire Station police line, this stall also serves coffee but their tea is what customers crave for. It is as good as the man who makes it. The tea here is brewed the traditional way, slowly and is made using high quality tea leaves, fresh milk and ginger.
“Since 2000, I have been into this tea business. At that time, I was studying and my younger brother used to take care of the stall. But unfortunately, I didn’t get any job so I too joined the family business. Slowly and steadily, people started liking my tea. From 6 in the morning till 12 noon, I serve hot tea and coffee, then I take a break and again get back to work at 4 in the afternoon to serve my customers till 10 in the night,” he adds.
While he has customers belonging to all age groups, since the tea stall is situated near police line, the regular ones mostly are the retired persons, VIPs and the elderly people who visit the stall for their daily dose of tea and khatti. “I am happy with the way my business has shaped up. I started with one rupee per cup but now the cost of tea is Rs 7 per cup and coffee is Rs. 8 per cup,” says Bichi.
Article Courtesy: Dikhya Mohanty and Saheen Afroz