TEA TOWN PUNE – Amrutatulya Chaha and Irani Chai

Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: PUNE – TEA or COFFEE ?.’

Link to my original post in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal: 

This morning – after my morning walk – I stopped at my favouriteAmrutatulya for a cup of Tea.

While sipping my cup of delicious Amrutatulya Chaha – I remembered this article I had written 5 years ago – in the year 2010 – for my Pune Heritage Series of Articles on Pune Reminiscences: – A PUNEKAR WALKS DOWN MEMORY LANE

So – I thought it would be a good idea to delve into my Foodie Archives and post the article, revised and abridged, for your perusal.

Reminiscences of Yesteryear Poona 

Pune is a Tea Town. 

Or should I say: “Pune was a Tea Town” – because the culinary culture of Pune has changed.

Youngsters do not drink tea anymore – they consider it infra dig to have a cup of tea. 

Yes – the young and the restless prefer Coffee. 

(Of course – many youngsters prefer stronger, more intoxicating, beverages – like Beer, Vodka, Whisky, Rum and suchlike alcoholic Spirits)

And mind you – even those youngsters who drink coffee no longer like the rejuvenating cup of Peaberry/Plantation Filter Coffee served by the Udipirestaurants – which we used to love. 

Youngsters prefer the expensive stylish alien international coffees served at posh Baristas, CCD’s, Starbucks and high-falutin coffee shops proliferating rapidly all over Pune.

Of course – the coffees served in these branded coffee shops have their its own unique flavours – and it is all a question of changing tastes.

Just imagine – the other day I could not get a cup of decent tea in a multiplex cinema – but there were plenty of varieties of exotic coffee all around. 

For us traditional “old fogies” – we feel that these exotic coffees are quite “alien” to the Indian style and do not fortify you like the strong cup of Indian Filter Coffee or perk you up like a cuppa of Amrut tulya tea does.

Going back to my childhood days in 1960’s – Pune was a 100% “TEA TOWN”. 

In Pune – or Poona as it was known then – everyone drank tea – except some quirky upaas type aunts who insisted on drinking coffee.


In the “good old days” – there were chiefly two types of tea for the laid-back discerning gourmet Punekar to relish:

1. The tasty flavoursome AMRUT-TULYA CHAHA at the ubiquitousAmrutatulya Tea Shops at every nook and corner of Pune 

2. The peerless inimitable IRANI CHAI served by the numerous Irani Restaurantsacross the city of Pune. Places like Café Naaz, Lucky, Good Luck, Volga, Vahuman etc were popular for their tasty Irani Chai. 

Indeed Amrutatulya Chaha and Irani Chai are an important aspect of the culinary heritage of our Pune.


Irani Chai is the most rejuvenating beverage I have ever had

They keep the steaming rich tea brew and hot milk in separate containers – and mix it in just the right proportion to get the terrific inimitable pinkishGulabi Chai.

A few years ago – I got a shock of my life when I discovered a Barista coffee shop in place of my favourite Naaz at the Northern End of Main Street. 

Yes – my favourite Irani Restaurants, Naaz, Lucky and many others have disappeared – and only the redoubtable Good Luck at Deccan Gymkhana remains.


Amrutatulya Chaha Tea Shops too are fast vanishing. 

The one nearest to where I lived on Tilak Road in Sadashiv Peth in the 1960’s next to Ashok Bakery has disappeared many years ago. 

Further down Tilak Road past SP College towards Maharashtra Mandal there still exist the legendary Ambika and New Ambika Amrutatulyas

A friend of mine used to savour his morning cuppa in Ambika – and his evening cup of tea in New Ambika. 

If you look around you will still find a number of Amrut-tulyas in the heart of Pune city – though in the newly developed cosmopolitan suburbs there are TeaTapris.

Amrut means nectar – and Tulya means comparable – so “Amrut Tulya” means “Comparable to Nectar”

And indeed – true to its name – Amrutatulya tea is comparable to nectar –  sweet, ambrosial – like the elixir of life!

I love watching Amrutatulya chaha being prepared. 

They prepare tea in front of you in a brass vessel. 

The speciality of this vessel is that as it starts ageing – the tea becomes tastier. 

Milk and water are boiled together – with plenty of sugar, cardamom powder, crushed ginger and tea leaves – stirring continuously to make sure the concoction does not overflow. 

The aroma of this tea is tempting enough to pull you inside for a hot cup of tea.

As an ardent tea lover – I am glad to share a recipe of traditionalAmrutatulya chaha



Tea Leaf: If you live in Pune, get the famous CTC+OP (CTC – Crush, Tear, Curl; OP – Orange Pekoe; BOP – Broken Orange Pekoe) family mixture tea powder from any of the tea depot located in the heart of Pune City. If you prefer branded tea, you may use some good Assam CTC tea. You may also use a strong leaf tea brand like Wagh Bakri Premium Leaf Tea if you prefer.

Full Cream Buffalo Milk

Fresh Water


Fresh Ginger Crushed (Better still you can crush the juicy fresh ginger with the chimta directly into the water-milk concoction to let the ginger juices flow out and blend in smoothly.

Cardamom (Elaichi) – peel, crush and powder the pods

Please remember that Amrutatulya tea is not your traditional masala chai – so please do not add any tea masalas or spices like clove, cinnamon, black peppercorns or herbs like gavati chaha (lemon grass), tulsi leaves etc. 

Also remember Amrutatulya Chaha is not the khada chamach or cutting chai– so please don’t boil away to glory.

And do remember – Amrutatulya Chaha is “cooked” – not brewed.

Method of “Cooking” Amrut Tulya Chaha

  • In a brass vessel (or stainless steel – if you cannot get a brass vessel) – mix one cup of water and one cup of milk.
  • Add four teaspoons of sugar.
  • Put on the stove on medium heat.
  • Squeeze in a bit of fresh crushed ginger – and then add a pinch of freshly ground cardamom powder and the freshly crushed cardamom peel.
  • Lightly and lovingly stir the concoction – let it warm – and bring it to boil.
  • Add two teaspoons of tea powder – and keep stirring gently to ensure the boiling concoction does not spill over.
  • Keep boiling till the tea attains bright golden-orange colour.
  • The moment you see a reddish tinge – give the heavenly brew a loving last stir – twirl the vessel – and sieve the Amrut Tulya Nectar Tea – your Special Amrutatulya Chaha – directly into the cups.

You can drink Amrutatulya Chaha from your cup.

But you will enjoy Amrutatulya Tea better if you drink it from the saucer – sucking and pulling in the yummy liquid with your lips – and let it deliciously emulsify on your tongue for that heavenly elevating feeling.

Sip the delicious tea slowly and mindfully – roll it on your tongue – let it mingle in your palate – close your eyes – absorb, discern the flavour, the rich taste – relish every sip lovingly.

Amrutatulya Chaha is truly lip-smacking tasty and soul refreshing – blissful ambrosia – an experience of nectar – you can take my word for it. 

Once you experience the bliss of good “Amrut Tulya” Chaha – you will know why they call this refreshingly delicious and nourishing tea “Amrut Tulya” or “Comparable to Nectar” Tea.


Enjoy your cup of special Puneri Amrutatulya “Nectar” Tea. 

If you are a true blue Punekar – don’t head for the nearest coffee shop or watering hole like a beer bar, lounge, pub or a booze shop – just look around for an Amrutatulya Tea Shop and rejuvenate yourself with a cuppa.

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All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Revised Version of Article Written by me Vikram Karve in the year 2010 and Posted Online Earlier on my Foodie Blogs a number of times by me Vikram Karve including at urls: https://vwkarve.wordpress.com/20…  andhttp://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…  and  http://www.thepunekar.com/tea-to…  and  http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…  and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…  and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/201…  and  https://vwkarve.wordpress.com/20…

Now Re-Posted by Vikram Karve at 


6/17/2015 10:36:00 AM

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