Restaurant Review: Tea Trails, Kala Ghoda

Tea TrailsEditor’s note (August 2017) The Kala Ghoda outpost of Tea Trails has closed down.

Tea Centre is Churchgate is perhaps the only tea café where the food is as good as the chai. At other tea-focused joints like the Taj Mahal Tea House and Chaayos, either the food or the tea or both are lacking. The city’s newest tea café is the Kala Ghoda outpost of the Tea Trails chain (which is also in Malad, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Mulund and Thane). While it gets its tea mostly right, the food requires immediate intervention.

The place is a pleasant little alcove with chairs upholstered in blue and white, walls adorned with reliefs of teapots and cups, and photographs of pretty people drinking tea. From the extensive menu of teas, we tried four. The Aromatic kari chai (Rs80) had a strong curry leaf flavour but had the anaemic look of tea with too much milk. The flavour of fennel dominated the Five Spices chai (Rs80), which would make a great pick-me-up at the end of a long day. It was hard to detect green tea in the Naïve Monk (Rs180), a cold concoction of tea, cucumber, mint and lemon but the drink was deliciously refreshing. Now good tea and coffee can have such an enriching quality that they can fill you with the kind of edifying feeling you get while gazing upon great art. The Himalayan Spice (Rs100), a wonderful tisane of black tea, orange zest and cinnamon, came close.

The food menu is scattered with items that have tea as an ingredient, a largely gimmicky touch as you can’t taste tea in most of these dishes. The tea broth (Rs220) was an exception. Black Darjeeling tea was poured over rice with sprouts, cabbage and a touch of soy. The combination of tea and soy was delightful but on the whole the soupiness of the dish reminded us of sick people’s food. The Burmese tea salad (Rs250) was a DIY platter of ingredients like cabbage, lettuce, burnt garlic, peanuts, olive oil and an insignificant portion of green tea leaves that were fried when they should’ve been fermented. You’re expected to make the salad yourself. Not only was this too much work to expect diners to perform, the result was a bland toss up of raw veggies. The real deal, or a tastier one at any rate, can be had around the corner at Burma Burma.

Tea was barely discernible in both the pasta al pesto (Rs325) in which the pesto was tasty but the pasta was over boiled, and the tea-infused pancakes (Rs180), three limp floury discs served with tea jelly and a passable fruit compote. The only faultless item was the luscious olive and green tea hummus (Rs275). It was more olive than tea but none the worse for it. Tea Trails has for neighbours such coffee shops as The Pantry, Kala Ghoda Café and The Nutcracker, all of them perpetually brimming over with people on account of their terrific food. If Tea Trails is to compete with them, the cooks here need to shape up.

Get: Five Spice chai (Rs80), Naïve Monk (Rs180), Himalayan Spice (Rs100), olive and basil hummus (Rs275).

Skip: Burmese tea salad (Rs250), tea-infused pancakes (Rs180).

It is our policy to wait at least a week after an establishment has opened before we review it.

Prices exclude taxes. This review was conducted anonymously.

Tea Trails, Burjorji Bharucha Street, opposite Mamagoto, Kala Ghoda. Tel: 022 3015 1690. Open daily, from 9am to 11pm. Get directions here.

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