This world is a school with a lot of things around you to learn from, every living thing is your teacher and their experiences are the lessons from each chapter of their lives. Indeed, learning is a lifelong process. Never thought few sips of tea can make one so thoughtful about everything happening around.
Did that tea have some refreshing and rejuvenating elements? Definitely, green tea! Oh, that type of stress-buster tea? Just stop this cloud of relief-tea-related jargons! This is about Vishnu, a young and enthusiastic person, who is the owner of this tiny shop, orator of all the coming stories, multilingual, a certified tour guide and organizer of an underground tour of Varanasi. Just a tea shop and the owner, what happens next?
In the small gallies (streets) of Varanasi near Dashwamedh Ghat, you will find this shop called Vishnu Tea Emporium, it is easily discoverable as you will find painted direction signs all over the streets and the Ghat to guide you.
General introduction with Vishnu started, with him telling about the shop, its origins and uniqueness in the small city of Varanasi. This was followed by a lesson on how to make tea. Oh, the lesson lessons fit here so well, to all the tea lovers who loves drinking, but don’t know how to make (or think they make the worst tea in this world, why try so hard?). It’s high time, here is the process:
- Pick a tea leaf, Darjeeling or Kashmir? (The Kashmiri being the stronger of the two).
- For one glass of tea, pour half a cup of water and half a cup of milk into a vessel and boil it.
- Add 1.5 teaspoons of tea leaves into the water, if you want strong, you can add more.
- Crush the cardamom and cinnamon and pour into the boiling tea. Also, ginger, if you like it.
- Finally, add sugar. Yes, please!
- Smell the aroma at each level, it just gets better, so does the taste.
- Add some secret masala in the end and heat it for some for time. Your tea is ready.
While we were enjoying the tea, we heard a lot travel stories and tragedies from Vishnu, the most captivating being the one in which a man was planning for his wife’s surprise birthday party. In that he wanted a private cruise decorated with lights and flowers in the middle of the river, surrounded by the Ghats. Everyone was charging him a lot of money, seeking ways to dupe him but Vishnu bhai managed to give him the best and the cheapest deal, with a cruise decorated with flowers, balloons, garlands and also a play performed by a few local kids for the birthday girl. That indeed made the moment special for the couple. Another story was a matter of trust that people have on Vishnu, one tourist, left an expensive package with Vishnu, with a promise to ship the package to his place later.
‘The walls should be painted with color resembling to that of a tea, with poster of a tea garden on the wall’. Vishnu added, ‘with two ladies carrying the tea leaves’ – and that’s how we came up with the renovation idea for the shop. There was also a plan to shift the shop somewhere in an open area, on the Ghats (chai with the view) probably. The guy was super excited about the renovation ideas and we expect it happens before our next visit to Varanasi.
If you want to know more about Vishnu, check out this on TripAdvisor – Underground Varanasi tours. He also organizes trips to McLeod Ganj, Manali, etc. He has been in this guide business for 8 years and gives all his customers a great deal.
After exchanging stories and ideas, we bought the chai masala, which was the specialty of the emporium and also got post cards of Varanasi from Vishnu as a souvenir. We also pointed the shop coordinates at the correct spot on Google maps, hope people find the shop easily now. This place should be there on Lonely Planet now – it’s an awesome concept.
So we not only learned lessons on ‘How to prepare the perfect tea?’ But also on how to be a trustworthy human, generous, innovative and creative in the work we do. Never thought spending some time in this tiny tea shop will teach us so many things about the simplicity of life. Indeed, this place is like a home away from home for every tourist visiting the sacred city of Varanasi.