Tea Fables

Chayakaran Mohanan Chettan – Photo Essay

June 1, 2017
Chazhakaran - Photo Essay

The skill of Chayakaran Chettan’s (chai walla’s) in making delicious tea is something that intrigues me. They possess an ease and flow with which they operate. Their tea tools are by their side and they scoop and throw in different ingredients at a tempo. Once the correct level of heating and boiling is attained they reach out for the sieve (or tea sock) and then they pull the tea. Them pulling tea looks like a walk in the park. I’m sure a lot of us on our first trials made a hot mess when we tried pulling tea at home.

On our last visit to Kerala, we made a stop at Vasundhara Sarovar Premiere, Cherthala. The highlight for me was the ‘Chazhakada’ (tea shop) by the backwaters. A photo essay of Chayakaran Mohanan Chettan in the order of morning tea to evening.

Chayakaran Mohanan Chettan - Photo Essay

The note from the hotel that graced the small teashop set up in the restaurant.

 

Chayakaran Mohanan Chettan - Photo Essay

There is a lot of attention given to every cup of tea that he prepares. His preparation is swift but with grace.

 

Chazhakaran - Photo Essay

He had been making tea at a hotel in Kottayam, Kerala 30 years ago. He then came back to his hometown of Cherthala and started doing other work.

 

Chayakaran Mohanan Chettan - Photo Essay

His tea tools. Tea powder, sugar and his handmade tea mixes for different flavors like ginger tea or masala tea.

 

Chayakaran Mohanan Chettan - Photo Essay

You either make tea for one or you make tea for many. Mohanan Chettan has different tumblers depending on his requirement. Cup sizes range from 2 cups, 3, 5, 6, and two large tumblers that can make 12 cups of tea each.

 

Chazhakaran - Photo Essay

The pour. The most important part. Here is where the milk, sugar, and strongly brewed black tea combine into a rich cup of deliciousness.

 

Chayakaran Mohanan Chettan - Photo Essay

The Chayakada is open from 4 PM TO 6:30 PM. It faces the backwaters of Allepey and is the perfect location to laze and drink tea while watching the sunset.

 

Chayakaran Mohanan Chettan - Photo Essay

People in his area knew of his skills at making the perfect cup of chaya. What followed was a job at this resort. He has gained popularity through word of mouth and he remarked that people make visits just to have his tea.

 

Chayakaran Mohanan Chettan - Photo Essay

This was a truly unique experience. A place I would love to revisit whenever I’m back in Kerala. Thank you Mohanan Chettan.

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