The undying love for tea in India is evident with the splendid varieties of tea available across the country. From the basic masala chai sold at small tapris in Mumbai to big-brand tea houses spread over metro cities like Delhi-NCR, the essence and importance of tea in the lives of Indians is unmatched. I’m not a tea lover personally and neither am I a coffee person. I prefer to stick to water and lemonade (nimbu paani) on most days. However, it is during winters that I sometimes give in to the cravings of sipping something hot. I like to take a cup of my mother’s special masala tea with breakfast each morning as it keeps me warm all through the day. 

Relying on my fair knowledge of tea, I used to believe that it is a sweet beverage generally. People may or may not add sugar to it but it is largely a sweet drink. However, the opposite is true. Upon returning from her ancestral home in Jammu this year, a friend of mine introduced to me noon chai. I was quite intrigued. With a pinkish hue and a salty taste, this chai is a Kashmiri specialty apart from the famous Kahwa. This is a quintessential winter drink in the region and is generally salty in taste. This opened up the world of chai for me. 

There’s something known as Bubble tea or Boba tea which is a Taiwanese specialty and created a rage in the tea market in past few years. From college fests to café menus, I used to find the mention of this tea in almost every place. Well, the tapioca pearls loaded bubble tea has a close cousin called cheese tea. Have you heard of it before? 

Cheese Tea: Is It Too Cheesy For You?

A Taiwanese style tea, cheese tea has become popular across Asian markets over the years, including Malaysia and China. For those untouched by the phenomenon of cheese tea, it is a sweet and savoury beverage that is made from a special blend of green tea, white tea or oolong tea. The idea is to give the customers a unique taste of both sweet and savoury flavours. The highlight of cheese tea is that it is served with a foamy cream cheese layer that is topped with a dash of salt. 

This tea was popularized in the Taiwan night markets in 2010 when vendors started concocting a creamy foam of whipped milk, salt and cream cheese that can be layered on the top of regular tea. The use of a variety of cheese in the mix is what adds to the specialty of the drink and this is what made it rise to fame across the Asian markets, as much as Boba tea. 

The best way to sip this tea is to drink from the edge of the cup without blending all the ingredients together as it would give you a clear taste of the cream cheese layer on top which gets mixed with the flavours of the tea, leading to an explosion of flavours in one’s mouth. 

The thick and fluffy foam that forms on top is the highlight of the drink, which is usually served cold and also known as milk cap tea or cheese mousse tea. 

If you feel like savouring a hot or cold cup of tea in Delhi, there are plenty of places to try. 

1.  Cha Bar 

Housed within the quiet stacks of Oxford Bookstore, this place has all the relaxing and cozy vibes. From Thai and Assamese varieties to the popular Bubble tea, they have an entire section dedicated to a wide array of teas. From spicy and savoury to sweet and creamy blends, you can opt for whichever one you like. 

Where: N-81, Oxford Bookstore, Connaught Place, New Delhi

Cost For Two: INR 600

Source: Cha Bar/Instagram 

2.  Chaayos 

This is another popular chai point in the capital which not only serves piping hot teas in kulhads but also some lip-smacking nashta to satiate your hunger. Pair your cup of tea with a naan pizza or a keema pav and enjoy an affordable and delicious meal. 

Where: A 230, First Floor, Mayur Vihar Phase 1, New Delhi

Cost For Two: INR 200

Source: Chaayos/Instagram 

3.  The Turkey Project 

Although this isn’t really a chai hub, the café is one of the few places in the city that offer the much-talked about cheese tea. The creamy and foamy cheese tea can be relished after a hearty and meaty meal at the restaurant. 

Where: C-27, DDA Commercial Complex, Defence Colony, New Delhi

Cost For Two: INR 1400 

Source: The Turkey Project/Instagram