My Mum is from London and she loves tea. I prefer coffee. But here in India I'm regularly offered tea, and sometimes when I'm drinking it, I think of my mother and imagine a smile of her face.
Recently I went to visit a fellow poet at his tea shop in Central Delhi. We had met previously at an evening reading at a coffee shop near by. Mr. Mittal is a very friendly man and a decent poet. Apparently, he's also a very successful businessman, and generous too, at least according to the kind of tea he serves to random guests like me. I asked Mr. Mittal about the business of tea and he asked about my life, my business and my impressions of India. The conversation was pleasant.
Before long, he offered to serve me some tea, and asked for my preference. Not really knowing much at all about fine teas, I deferred to his suggestion. He chose white tea and proceeded to explain its tedious procurement and its amazing health benefits. It sounded special and it tasted quite nice. (I still prefer a good shot of espresso, though I'm sure the tea is higher in antioxidants and lower in caffeine.) After sipping away and enjoying more good conversation and some poetry, I got a hold of the canister out of which the white tea had been taken. The price per kilogram was prominently displayed -- a whopping 10,000 Indian rupees. That's over $200 USD. (Down the road from his shop, I pay about $8 per kilogram for the finest Indian espresso beans, very good quality, freshly roasted.)
Thanks, Mr. Mittal, for sharing your tea, your time, your poetry, and your heart with me. After almost five years in Delhi, I continue to be inspired by Indian hospitality.