Tea Leaves

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I wake up every morning with the sunrise, and the first thought that springs to mind is, ‘What tea am I drinking today?’ When I’m in a mood to indulge myself there are the myriad thoughts of a possible breakfast drizzled with enough butter to keep Siberia warm. When I can make myself scrambled eggs with dollops of cheese, I’m the happiest. If I can manage ham, bacon or even Heinz' baked beans, then it’s a Sunday. But the tea?

Tea could be anything from the seemingly ordinary cup of Tata Life to the exotic sounding Blackcurrant with Ginseng and Vanilla, Darjeeling or even Jasmine tea. A mug filled to the brim with milky, sweet chai and I'm impy-dimpy-do with happiness. Then there are the days when it’s just Coffee or Hot Chocolate that I want but we shall not talk about those days today. The first stop for the day has to be at the tea cabinet.

Even as I toddle my way around the house trying to keep the sunlight from poking like needles in my eyes, I can smell the tea brewing. There is quite nothing like sitting with the newspaper in hand mulling over the cryptic crossword but we can’t always have what we want.

Ginger tea is always very invigorating, masala chai brings back fond memories of sitting in the balcony with friends as the cups of tea made their way from the kitchen. The everyday chai reminds me of Dad making that awesome cuppa during the weekends. Heady Jasmine is meant for those days when I want to wipe away memories in a moment of madness. Darjeeling is, of course, for those times when I want to be Holly Golightly in my own version of Noo Yawk- suave, sophisticated and unbearably charming. Then there is Numi Tea, Organic and beautiful. Numi Tea remains an expensive pleasure only indulged in when I have nothing but time at hand. Of late, Numi Tea has become a photographic memory. Who wouldn’t be fascinated when a flower blooms in the water only to infuse it with hints of chocolate and spices and other alchemical ingredients? 

These days tea is my morning indulgence and the occasional post-midnight cup of elixir. Gone are the days when I would drink cupfuls of tea by the hour and would reserve the coffee as my cup of nostalgia and all things dramatic. There was a time when the overcast skies and a light breeze blowing meant I would make myself a cup of coffee and sit back. These days it’s the tea that adds the drama and coffee that is quotidian.

Behind the ritual,
There is the spiritual

Find yourself a cup of tea; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things.

Completion + Cafe Mocha

I have to compulsively finish and complete things. I find deleting emails, reading WhatsApp messages gratifying - the unread count drives me nuts, makes my hands itch. I don’t experience the full pleasure of a task until I’ve checked it off my list. I have to use up the last bits of shampoo so I can quickly toss out the bottle. Saturdays are my favourite, everything draws to a close and I can put a bow on it - the dry waste is collected, laundry is done, the stack for ironing is picked up and I can plan to finish off jars of bits and pieces to create something new. Like this mocha base.

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Three jars were a quarter full with cashews, hazelnuts and almonds. Tossed in some sweetener, unsweetened chocolate, instant coffee and I had a cold coffee base, ice-cream topping and nutella replacement. I don’t know what I’m reveling in right now- the giddiness that comes with creating something delicious from leftovers or the joy of just completing, using up, not having to dispose half-empty jars in my quest for completion.

Bits & Pieces that went into the Cafe Mocha Base

  • 1 cup of nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, cashews) 
  • 1-2 tbsp instant coffee
  • 2-3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa 
  • Sweetener as per pref (3-4 tbsp sugar/stevia etc to taste) 

How I made it

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  • Soak the nuts in water for a couple of hours, drain completely. 
  • Blend everything with some warm water, shouldn’t be grainy. 
  • Tada, it’s ready!  
    You can store in the fridge for up to a week.

How I use it

My favorite keto dessert is a simple chia seed pudding. The chia seeds pack in quite a punch on the C/F/P ratios: 28g of chia seeds will set me up with 9g of fat, 5g of fat, 2g of net carbs (yeah, can you beat that?). 

  • 2 tbsps of chia
  • 200 ml of coconut mylk
  • 1 tbsp of coconut butter/coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp Cafe mocha base 

Stir all ingredients together in a jar. Refrigerate overnight. 

Cupcakes - Then & Now

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We had cupcakes from Cupcake Company for lunch today. Bangalore has come a long way from that day in 2010 when I had an unbearable soul-destroying cupcake craving.

I woke up on the 1st weekend of October 2010 with an unbearable cupcake craving. This was also the time I’d just returned from the Bay Area where I was spoilt almost every other weekend with Kara’s cupcakes, in all flavours, colours and sizes. K decided he was going to be the knight in shining armour and buy me cupcakes. I don’t know how many bakeries and confectioneries he called up asking, begging, pleading for cupcakes. No one had cupcakes.

Spoonful of Sugar decided they’re going to give cupcakes a shot. At 8 pm, I was presented with a box of 4 ‘cupcakes’ - 4 dense muffins topped with chocolate and hundreds & thousands sprinkles.

The next day we drove to Pondicherry and dug into some soul soothing Darjeeling Tea flavoured macarons.

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Here’s where you can find some ridiculously good cupcakes.

Truth. Coffee Cult, Cape Town

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Truth. Coffee Cult
They roast coffee. Properly.

“Do you want sugar with that?” asked Thomas the barista. “Would I need sugar with that?” I should remember not to reply to questions with questions. Oh well. Who takes sugar with a well-made cappuccino anyway?

Truth takes its coffee very seriously. It’s religion to them. They have irrevently named blends like Resurrection, Vengeance and Donde’s Chaos. What caught my attention is how they describe each blend with a snippet of a conversation. Their decaf is dubbed Antithesis, because you know:

“Do you have a pacemaker?” We ask. “Yes.” You reply. “Then this is perfect for you,” we say only with the slightest hint of ag-shame, “It’s coffee without palpitations, or caffeine.”

When I was there, there was a old man flitting about the place barking orders and muttering things about “customer service” while being quite dodgy himself. Spiteful managers and good coffee served by all smiles and gentle baristas, such a bittersweet way to start the day. 

I bought their House Blend quite aptly named Resurrection:

“How strong?“

“Well, strong enough to resurrect even those that stupidly chose to drink Kool-Aid.”

Exactly what I needed after encountering that slight old man so early in the day.