While on a morning heritage tour of Kolkata, US Ambassador Eric Garcetti and his team enjoyed the Kolkata-favourite Bhander Cha or tea served in clay cups. A central part of Kolkata’s culinary tapestry, Bhander Cha represents everything from sustainability to flavour. Read on to know more.
US Ambassador Eric Garcetti is doing a great job of tasting the delights of India while on his official tours of various cities, and we are truly inspired. Recently, Garcetti relished a full-fledged traditional Bengali meal at Delhi’s Banga Bhawan and promised to explore more flavours of Bengal during his trip to Kolkata. Delivering on that, Garcetti shared a recent post from Kolkata where he is seen enjoying Kolkata-special Bhander Cha.
For those who don’t know, Bhander Cha refers to the Kolkata version of Kulhad Chai. While on a morning heritage walk of Kolkata, where a group of his colleagues joined him, Garcetti was seen relishing Bhander Cha with his team. “Kolkata is truly a city of cross-cultural splendors. On a walking tour this morning with @CalcuttaWalks, I saw the depth of the city’s history of harmony and visited diverse places of worship. The coexistence of these institutions reflects Kolkata’s religious tolerance and plurality,” Garcetti wrote on his Twitter post.
So, what is it that makes Bhander Cha so special? The very first thing to note here is that this is not only a traditional way of tea consumption in Bengal, but also considered to be very environmentally friendly. While many parts of the country shifted to more easily and cheaply available plastic and paper cups to serve tea, Bengal’s tea sellers—especially those across Kolkata, including on university campuses—still serve tea in Bhands or clay cups.
The Bhander Cha is usually a milky concoction in Kolkata which is flavoured often with ginger and cardamom—especially during monsoon. However, the famous Lebu Cha or lemon tea Kolkata tea sellers are famed for is also served in these clay pots. Culinary science says that serving anything in earthen pots can add to the flavour of the dish, and this is certainly true for Bhander Cha in Kolkata.
But that’s not all. Kolkata’s—in fact all of Bengal’s--tea culture revolves around something called Adda, which represents discussions around everything from football to politics. Bhander Cha is the crux around which this Adda culture thrives. In monsoon, when the entire nation craves hot tea with snacks, this Adda culture around Bhander Cha is perhaps something that can attract not only Garcetti while on his food tour of Kolkata, but others too.