For me, tea meant only the one with milk, water, sugar, and tea leaves of course. And I needed a glassful of it at least twice a day. If for some reason, we had run out of milk, I would simply skip having tea that day. Whenever my parents offered me black tea, I would staunchly refuse.
Years passed, and I was duly introduced to the intoxication of the black tea. I had just joined TKMCE, and Parvathi dragged me to this lovely chechi used to sell tea and snacks. I remember hesitatingly taking a sip of lime tea, and falling in love with it almost instantly. More days, more tea.
A couple of years passed, and I found myself at Trivandrum with work commitments. Lured by the promise of delicious mutton dishes, I made a solo visit to Rajila Hotel. With the finger-licking good offerings, they only had their trademark mint-lime sulaimani to wash it all down. It was the first time I was seeing mint leaves in a beverage, and the combination blew my mind! On every subsequent visit, I made sure I ordered this too.
Sulthan Sulaimani, which is right opposite to Technopark at Trivandrum, is another favorite joint that experiments excessively with tea. Though my personal favorite was the cardamom tea, the lime/mint-lime/ginger-lime varieties of black tea were all equally relish worthy.
The list of places that creates magic out of black tea would be incomplete without mentioning the late-night eateries at Vizhinjam - Chuttameen and Usthad Hotel. The mint tea they serve with the criminally tempting fish delicacies would perfectly satiate any sane taste buds.
PS. I know writing about eateries when they are inaccessible is a sin, but all sins would be forgiven today I guess.