India is well known for its numerous tea estates, and ubiquitous and inexpensive masala chai. However, in recent years, tea in India has started becoming trendy and upmarket. Contemporary tea bars have popped up all over the country to complement existing establishments. Here are some of the best tea bars and shops in India, where you can relax and enjoy a special brew, and taste and purchase various teas (including some rare ones). They're all vastly different, from classic to luxury. There's one thing they all have in common though -- an impressive variety of tea!
Can't get enough tea? Take a look at the Top 6 Places to Visit Tea Plantations in India. You can even stay on a tea estate!
01 of 08
Tea Trails is India's first chain of tea cafes. It was launched in suburban Mumbai in 2013, with the aim of luring customers back from coffee lounges and educating them about tea beyond the standard chai. Prior to this, the owners spent two years researching and handpicking the teas to be served. An enticing range of white, black, oolong, herbal and specialty Indian chais are paired with tasty snacks in an ambient environment. Nowadays, you'll find Tea Trails cafes across India, including Connaught Place in Delhi and the Kala Ghoda arts precinct in Mumbai's Fort area. The company aims to open 400 outlets by 2020.
02 of 08
Infinitea was started in 2003 by Gaurav Saria, the owner of four tea estates in West Bengal. Over 150 tea varieties from all around the world are served there. It's located on upmarket Cunningham Road in Bangalore and set over two levels. The design gives a complete tea experience with snippets of information, pictures, and posters everywhere. There's even a tea moment from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. If you can't make it to Infinitea, you can buy tea from their fabulous online tea store!
03 of 08
Cha Bar is without a doubt the grooviest and most happening tea shop in Delhi. What's more, it has a very handy location at the Oxford Bookstore, in Connaught Place's Statesman Tower. You can read while you drink! The 86 types of tea and blends include hand-picked varieties from Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Sikkim Oolong, alongside a wide range of international teas. There are Cha Bars at Oxford Bookstores across India. The one in Kolkata is also great!
04 of 08
Although the elegant Sea Lounge isn't really a tea shop as such, it's considered to be a city institution for its traditional Afternoon Tea buffet, served from 3.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. every day. It's been taking place since the 1980s. It's not just about the tea there though. It's also about the history, culture, clientele, and architecture. This makes the Taj Palace Hotel worth a trip on its own. The Sea Lounge has old world charm, complete with a pianist and picturesque view over the Gateway of India. If you're not there for the Afternoon Tea or don't want to pay so much (it costs 1,999 rupees per person for the full buffet), there are more than 25 different varieties of tea that you can order separately from the menu. Try and get a window seat so you can gaze out over the harbor.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
06 of 08
The Aap ki Pasand Tea Gallery is a favorite among tea connoisseurs in Delhi. This colonial-style, 1,200 square foot store is located in Old Delhi, close to the Red Fort. Relax and listen to soothing music, breathe in the aroma of freshly brewed tea, and taste and buy more than 35 different varieties. Most are from Darjeeling, Assam, Kangra and Nilgiri.
The company has a hip San-Cha Tea Boutique in Delhi's Chanakyapuri as well. It offers over 65 varieties of white, green, oolong, black and flavored teas from all over India. In March 2015, San-Cha Tea Boutique opened in Mumbai's Fort district. San-Cha Tea Boutique also opened on Lavelle Road in Bangalore in 2016.
07 of 08
If you're interested in tasting and buying rare teas, don't miss visiting Mittal Teas. One of the oldest tea companies in Delhi, Mittal started selling leaf tea there in 1954. Darjeeling tea is a specialty. The company has number of outlets. Mittal Stores is a small and precious tea shop at 12 Sundar Nagar Market. Another branch, Mittal Tea House, is located at 8A Lodhi Colony Market. The owner is passionate and very informative about tea. He left his engineering career to take over the family business.
08 of 08
Intimate: Dolly's Tea Shop, Kolkata
Tucked away in Dakshinapan Shopping Center in Dhakuria, Dolly's Tea Shop is a little out of the way but well worth the trip. It was set up by Dolly Roy, who has two impressive claims to fame: India's first woman tea taster and the first woman tea auctioneer in the world. She wanted to share her passion for tea with others, and her desire has definitely been appreciated. The shop is small but cozy and inviting, with a casual feel. In addition to some sought after serious teas, there are 20 different fruit flavors of tea to choose from, as well as refreshing fruit infused iced teas. Teas are for sale by the kilo, along with attractively packaged gifts. The only drawback is that the service is sometimes slow.