Updated: Mar 22
The process of tea drinking eventually became a public act with people coming from different socio-economic backgrounds to avail a similar experience. From the small makeshift joints and thelas of Delhi, Iranian/ Parsi cafes of Bombay, and many more, the tea-drinking experience has evolved majorly. With different cultures across every town, one lesser-known across the nation, but highly revered in Pune, is that of Amruttulyas.
Amruttulyas are crammed-up shops that can accommodate only a few people seated across 3-4 tables and a seat made of wood/stone that is often called Katta. There is a raised wooden platform at the entrance where the owner sits and does his daily prayers, brews tea, stores the petty cash and runs calculations on a chalk slate. The tea owes its peculiar taste to the brass vessel it is made in, seasoned with spices ground in a mortar pestle as per the owner’s quirks and mixed with very sugary milk thickened by prolonged brewing on the stove. The brewers prefer to use a cloth instead of the common strainer because they believe the flavor seeps through better.
Some argue that amruttulyas and their cultural heritage are a thing of the past, and patronizing them over the growing tea café culture is foolhardy. While tea chains like Yewale or Wagh Bakri café have their place in the market, what the amruttulyas provide is very distinct. There is a natural air of trust between owners and customers who pick their cream rolls from the barani (vase), drink their fresh cuppa at their own pace, and pay at the end.