You wake up, it’s chai time. A couple of hours into work and it’s chai time. Post-lunch break and chai time again. Back home and yes, a cuppa feels great. You know what I did? I went on a chai-tasting spree, discovering awesome chai tapris right before monsoon begins. After all, the rains bring about strong cravings for a cutting, no?The side servings like poha, khichdi, cream roll, khari, samosa and more are simply an added bonus. Here’s a short list of some of the city’s best chai stalls!
Ambika Amrutulya, Tilak Road
Located on the busy street near SP College is this stall, where you will be invited by the very sweet fragrance of tea. If you’re a foodie and chai lover, the smell makes one thing quite clear; the tea here is one that diabetics will fear but the kind the city loves. It’s sweet, has a slight tinge of elaichai (cardamom) and adrak (ginger) and tastes delightful. It has a following amongst the old and the young, from kamgaars to professionals, you will see every kind of Punekar here. Oh, and they also serve an equally sweet shengdana laadu as well as cold solkadi.
Price: Rs. 8 for cutting chai
Tea vendor at Sheti Mahamandal, Senapati Bapat Road
Although I came here hoping to get some gavati chaha, which is famous in the area, the person serving it seems to be quite moody. He shut shop for the day at 4pm, so this tea vendor situated quite close to the Passport Office, reaped the maximum crowd. I decided to give it a shot and was pleased with the result. The person serves amazing adrak-wali chai, which the working-class simply love. More than a tea-stall, he had a cart with a colourful umbrella instead of a pati. He’s found serving tea right in front of Baba Food Mall. Do try!
Price: Cutting- Rs. 6, Cup- Rs. 10
Appa Tea Stall, Koregaon Park
If you think Koregaon Park is a plush area that doesn’t have its own chai tapri like the rest of Pune, you are oh-so wrong! This chai-cum-pan/cigarette tapri is well known for serving one of the best chai in the city. The tea, which is heavily flavoured with elaichi, lends a unique sweet taste, quite different from the taste you get when relying on sugar. Appa also serves amazing cream rolls and sweet biscuits. It’s located opposite Naturals Ice Cream, on the main road, the second tapri when going towards Kalyani Nagar.
Price: Rs. 8
Tea and Wada Pav stall near Babuleshwar Temple, Yerawada
Right next to the entrance of Babuleshwar Temple near Panchashil Tech Park is this unnamed stall that serving tea and wada pav to the IT/Corporate crowd. You’ll stand out from the tie-suit wearing crowd (women wear salwaar kameez resembling office uniforms) if you’re casually dressed like me but everyone is united due to the love for the tea and the wada pav that is served with 3 types of chutneys. The chai is close to the kadak variety and absolutely delightful.
Price: Wada pav, Rs. 12 and cutting chai, Rs. 8
Shree Dutta Tea Stall, IBM, Yerawada
On the same street, the second last stall in the huge line of tea stalls is the Shree Samarth Tea Stall. The road that is surrounded by various companies and offices is a hub for the tea-drinking crowd. What Laxmi Road is to women is what this road is to chai-sutta lovers. Samarth tea stall serves chai and dishes like misal, wada pav, poha, samosa, etc. The tea here has that kadak taste, i.e. it has very less sugar and is prepared using a lot of tea powder. For those who detest sweet tea or the typical dudhatla chaha (milky tea), this place is the one for you.
Price: Rs. 8
Tea Stall on Lavale Road
We were searching for a tea stall with an amazing view, but avoided places close to the Mulshi and Khadakwasla areas as they will see an upsurge of crowd during the monsoon season. Hunting for a lesser-known, quiet place, with the wonderful pre-rain winds, we stumbled upon a small tea stall situated a little ahead of SUS road, Pashan. On the way to Symbiosis Lavale campus you’ll notice this relatively deserted tea stall with outside seating, and though the tea wasn’t out of the world, the view is what won my heart! Opposite to it is an unused plot that gives a wonderful view of the monsoon clouds and the surrounding area. The tea is good and the stall serves bhaji, pakoda among other quick snacks.
Price: Rs. 10 for a glass