DUBAI: For each fancy coffee shop in Dubai there are possibly hundreds of small cafeterias selling tea. The choices, though, are limited to just three varieties – masala chai, sulaimani and the tea-bag kind people here call Lipton regardless of the brand.
But now the age-old beverage is gaining ground in the latte-obsessed city in a new avatar, thanks to a chain of dedicated tea outlets called Cha Cha Chai.
Launched by UAE-based building material firm Danube, Cha Cha Chai aims to take tea drinking to a whole new level and you just need to drop by at one of their many outlets in Dubai to see that they are on the right track.
I visited their 2,000 square foot café at Business Village near the Clock Tower in Deira and was immediately impressed. The setting is modern without being pretentious and the menu is replete with not just a wide range of tea infusions, but also a slew of wraps, Indian snacks, sandwiches, salads, frappes and deserts.
“We plan to open 20 outlets in the UAE by 2015 and scores more in the coming years,” confided Danube’s affable marketing head Chanchal Samanta as I ordered a combo of chicken wrap and kadak chai. For Dh18 it is great value for money. I especially liked the kadak chai which has a burst of energising cardamom and is unlike anything I have had before.
Samanta let out the secret. “Danube chairman Rizwan Sajan and I spent weeks sampling several kinds of tea before we came up with a blend that accommodates the tastes and preferences of people here. All our blends have been developed after extensive research and all our snacks are made to order with fresh ingredients,” he said.
Up next was the café’s signature blend Cha Cha Chai (Dh7). Paired with cheese chilli toast (Dh12) and a sumptuous samosa (Dh5) it was refreshing and tasted absolutely divine. Also strongly recommended is their protein packed egg breakfast. It includes a choice of omelettes served with grilled chicken sausage, toast and butter or jam. At Dh15 it’s a steal.
Currently, Cha Cha Chai claims to sell nearly 50,000 cups of tea a month. Samanta said the numbers are fast rising.
Most customers are office goers but there is also a sizeable crowd of families and old friends enjoying a conversation over a cuppa.
The service is exemplary and most combo-offerings are priced below Dh20. Their USP of course is their exhaustive varieties of tea. Besides the robust masala chai and the saffron-flavoured zafrani tea, they also offer Royal Earl Grey, Darjeeling and premium flowering teas such as jasmine, blueberry and rose.
Price: Combos around Dh40 for two Location: Business Village, near Clock Tower, Deira
Contact: 04-295 5491
We recommend: Kadak chai, chicken wrap, egg breakfast
Did you know?
-19,000 kilograms of tea is consumed daily in the UAE.
-Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, next to water. Studies suggest tea reduce cholesterol levels, helps prevent blood clotting, lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and evens fight inflammation, cancer, and seasonal allergies.