India is the perfect example of diversity such that after every 400 km, the terrain changes; after every 200 kms, people speak a different language, after every 100 kms, people celebrate diverse cultures. After every 50 kms, people have other religions. However, one thing that remains constant is a hot cup of tea, or as we like to call it, Chai!
The word Chai needs no introduction, and its smell and taste are as familiar to us from birth as the wind and water around us. Despite its unanimous appeal across all 28 states and 8 union territories, there is still something ever so ambiguous about the idea of authentic Chai or the real deal, so to say. The beauty of Chai is that despite having such mass appeal, it never really tastes the same.
The diversity and individuality of our country can be perfectly summed up by a hot cup of Chai, with its taste changing almost every km. Welcome to the first episode of Chai with Hyundai, where we embark on some fantastic road trips to sip on tea and taste the real essence of India.
Joining me on this journey is the beautiful Hyundai Creta, which will be my companion in exploring the tastes of Himachal Pradesh. As I began my journey on a cold morning and the sun started peeking through the vast panoramic sunroof, my sleep had the best of me. I fired up the 1.5-litre diesel motor and the Bose 8 speaker system to charge up my morning, and boy did it get the adrenaline going!
What better place to start than from the top? So today, I’m out exploring the valleys and mountains of Himachal Pradesh, famous for its breathtaking landscapes, Pahari culture and herbs. I’ve concluded that the best way to get my taste is by stopping by at different tea stalls, maybe chit-chat with some locals, and trying to understand what made their tea unique.
Most of the tea found in Himachal Pradesh comes from the Kangra district, producing green and black tea since the mid 19th century. Kangra tea is known for its rather unique flavour and colour. The green tea in this region has a rather wood-like aroma which almost leads you to believe you’re drinking straight off a bark, especially if had in a cup made out of the earth. However, the black tea, the more common one amongst the two, has a sweet aftertaste that dances on your taste buds once you’re done.
The Hyundai Creta did an excellent job ferrying me around the snow-covered roads of Himachal Pradesh. Despite being a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the Creta and its electronic aids did a fantastic job mitigating traction and keeping me on track. I had doubts about how well the Creta could perform outside its concrete element, but to my surprise, it faired better than many vehicles I saw stuck in the snow. Though the 1.5-litre diesel makes a rather adequate sounding 113 bhp of power and 250 Nm of torque, to my surprise, there was rarely any moment where I felt the need for more power. This diesel mill performed rather potently and efficiently.
I must say this journey was definitely my cup of tea, and both I and my taste buds cannot wait to explore the flavours and aromas of India. The Hyundai Creta did a fabulous job with its warm hospitality, which was teamed perfectly with all the hot Chai I consumed. This is just the first instalment, and I cannot reveal just yet where we’ll be heading for our next but if you like what you saw, be sure to stick around to the Top Gear India youtube channel for further episodes.