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Kolkata’s only ‘Samovar’ Tea shop

5 February, 2021 17:31:20
Kolkata’s only ‘Samovar’ Tea shop

Almost a century old Samovar Tea Shop still operates at Bentinck Street, where the copper Samovar pulls in hundreds every day for it unique taste and health benefits. But what are Samovars? Samovars are large metallic vessels used to boil water and brew tea and coffee. In modern days, we hardly locate these metal-urns that originated from Russia and then spread across the world in different shapes and sizes. In Kolkata there is still one tea shop which has made this its unique selling proposition.

And that’s ‘Tanki Chai’ shop, that has withstood the test of time in this area famous for its Anglo-Indian musical instrument shops and Chinese shoe shops. There is another unique identity to the shop, the owner’s name is one everyone in India knows --- Mahendra Singh Dhoni! But this Dhoni in his pot belly and in late 50s is different. The best part of Samovar is the unique taste that comes from the water boiled in copper vessels that cannot be recreated. So, this tea leaves an ever-lasting impression. The shop is hard to miss because of the crowd outside, sipping tea from clay cups under an overhang of smoke spewing out of the 20-litre copper tank. The owner claims he manages to sell more than a thousand cups of tea a day.

Almost a century old Samovar Tea Shop still operates at Bentinck Street, where the copper Samovar pulls in hundreds every day for it unique taste and health benefits. But what are Samovars? Samovars are large metallic vessels used to boil water and brew tea and coffee.

It was in 1920, that Juhuri Singh moved to the business hub of Calcutta from the United Provinces in search of a better life. To serve tea in the area which even then was full of government offices, Singh invested in a big copper samovar which could boil large quantities of water and keep it so for many hours. The present owner has been on the job for four decades.

Samovars were not rare in Kolkata till a few decades back. But most found it too laborious to maintain and moved on to other ways to brewing tea. For Dhoni, however, it is about keeping a tradition alive. 

Traditionally, a teapot is set atop the chimney extension to brew leaves, getting a rich concentrate of the liquor. A lighter brew is obtained by adding more water to the teacup from the tap at the bottom of the vessel. Here, however, instead of adding more water, the tea seller dilutes the concentrate with milk before serving it.

The Samovar comes with its own benefits including not burning the gas for hours. While it’s efficient for the owner, it isn’t just the unique taste for people drinking it. Many come back because it is widely believed that copper vessels boost immunity. Piya Mallick, whose office is nearby and has tea from this shop for years said: “My parents once said drinking water from a copper vessel has many benefits, so why not tea?’ 

Story Tag:
  • Samovar tea

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