Sharjah: Parking your car to enjoy a hot cup of tea with friends has become a popular trend especially among university students in Sharjah.
The Royal Tea Cafeteria, a small tea shop located on University City road has become a hot spot among many residents who drive down to enjoy a special cup of tea.
The shop, which opened its doors to tea lovers in the area seven years ago, sells several types of tea including Karak, which is the most popular, Malaki (Royal), Haleeb (milk) with saffron tea, and Horlicks.
Students attending universities at the University City down the road, make up more than half of the customers of Royal Tea.
Saeed Atif Fouda, the shop manager, said that while they sell an average of 2,000 cups of tea a day during off-peak days, the number more than doubles once the university semester starts.
“Once the students are back from their summer holidays, we sell around 5,000 cups of tea a day,” he added.
Many students tend to take the five-minute drive down to the tea shop once a day if not more to get away from the hectic study routine of university life.
Along with its close location, Mishal Eskander, a junior at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), said the reason so many students drive down to Royal Tea is to get away from the university campus.
“People need a reason to hang out, and for now, going for some Karak tea with a bunch of friends is good enough,” he added.
“It’s become like a brand name, even though there are a few other tea shops around the area, Royal Tea has been there for a long time,” he said.
At almost all times of the day, the sandy area in front of the shop is often crowded with parked cars.
Mohannad Shaatf, a graduate from Palestine, said that while having a cup of tea in your car was always enjoyable for him and his friends, the trip down was also a good way to waste some time between classes.
“It’s a good change from just sitting at the student centre,” he said, adding that his morning breaks at Royal Tea were a good distraction from his monotonous university schedule.
Gokul Gopakuma, another recent graduate, said he still enjoys driving down in the evenings for a cup of Karak at Royal Tea.
“The tea is good sweet and not too strong and always the same quality,” he said.
Gopakumar, who lives in Sharjah, explained that there’s something special about sipping hot tea with a few friends and the car windows down.
“Tea complements conversations rather well,” he added.
Fouda, the manager of the shop also explained that while 5,000 cups of tea are sold per day, Karak tea remains to be the favourite among the customers.
“More than 700 cups of Karak tea alone are sold each day,” he said. Fouda also noted that an average of 500 cups of Malaki Tea, and 500 Milk-Zafran are sold per day.
Jamseer, a worker at the shop said he has been working at the café since its first day opening. He explained that while the number of customers has been increasing over time, the number of workers at the shop has also multiplied.
“Seven years ago, there were only three workers, now we are 12,” he said.
Along with residents from around the area, the shop’s customers now include people from other parts of the UAE.
“People from Abu Dhabi and Al Ain drive here just for the tea,” said Jamseer, adding that some of their regular customers drive down several times a week with their own flasks to fill up.
Depending of the type of tea and size of the cup, tea prices at the cafeteria range from one to four dirhams.