One of my earliest childhood memories is of taking a tram from Belgachia with my mother, getting down at Shyambazar, walking to Fariapukur to the famous Orphan Tea shop and standing in a queue holding her hand while she bought the household’s monthly supply of tea. This was in the 80s and Orphan Tea was considered to be one of the best shops in the city. It was stacked with chests containing various varieties of loose tea – Darjeeling, Assam. There were little steel drums on the front counter, with ‘Cha’, written in both Bengali and English. Orphan Tea lost its glory long back and with the advent of ‘cha bars’ and cafes, so have many of these standalone tea shops in the city. Now, we no longer stand in a queues to get our caffeine fix. All we have to do is walk into a cafe and order what we want. One such cafe or ‘tea boutique’ as it is called where you get a very good variety of tea is First Flush, located near Golpark.
Push the red door open and you set foot inside a warm, cozy and welcoming space. I felt like I walked inside the living room of someone’s house instead of a cafe and I loved that. There are cane tables and chairs, racks displaying books and even sarees and jewelry. Plus, there is ample space so you don’t feel cramped. Basically, an ideal place for some ‘cha’, ‘ta’ and ‘adda’
First Flush serves a range of specialty Darjeeling tea (first and second flush) from the best tea gardens. The menu includes Gidda Pahar, Thurbo Moonlight and Castleton among others. If coffee is more your thing, you can choose from Capuccino, Espresso, Irish, Ethiopian and Colombian coffee. I tried the Irish Coffee and would surely recommend it (does not contain alcohol).
Preparing the ‘champagne of tea’ is different from any other tea variety. It is best enjoyed without milk and sugar and you need to know how long to brew the tea. Brewing time differs for each variety and at First Flush, you get a sand timer along with your tea to ensure you get your perfectly brewed cup.
‘Cha’ is never complete without the ‘ta’ and First Flush has a pretty comprehensive food menu. From soups to sandwiches, burgers, omlettes, pasta, pizza, pork chops, lasagne, fish and chips, desserts etc, they have it all. I loved their signature Neapolitan Baked Chicken Lasagne, Pork Chops with Sautéed Vegetables and Garlic Bread, Grilled Chicken and Chicken Stroganoff with Herb Flavor Rice. They do not scrimp on portion size and each of these work as a complete meal.
Love in a bylane totally describes First Flush. It is a lovely place to unwind over a cup of tea or coffee and some wonderful food. Worth visiting!
21/2 , Gariahat Road, Gariahat, Kolkata
Average cost – ₹500++ for two people (approx.)
Pics courtesy – Debjani of http://kitchenofdebjani.com/