Stories Of Amsterdam Over A Cup Of Darjeeling Tea

I have transited through Amsterdam's Schipol Airport numerous times. Like any international airport it is crazy busy & scarily enormous. During transition while the duty-free shops beckon  seductively from all directions, all I wanted  to do was go to the ladies and then hasten off to find the right gate for the next flight. You see I was always in a tearing rush to reach my destination and transit was always a place to speed through!


But in between all that running to catch the connecting flight at the right time, sometimes at the nick of it, I have often looked out of the vast glass windows of the airport hoping to catch a glimpse of...what? Oh wait would you think it terribly naive of me if I said the famed windmills? Or even just a glimpse of the city? Of course I never got any, except for waiting planes and tarmacs. 



Through all that dashing I promised Amsterdam that I would come back one day for a proper visit. Like a city deserves to be visited, spending time in it, roaming  its streets & lanes, using it's public transport, admiring it's various museums, visiting it's various markets, sitting in it's lovely cafes, partying in a boat as it manouvered it's way through the labyrinth of canals. 




I am glad to say that I did keep my promise to Amsterdam. My husband was going there for work, I tagged along and we spend the weekend there. I went to Amsterdam, not just the Schipol Airport. This time I did not hurry on to catch another flight, this time I got down from my flight and caught the connector to the city instead. I amsterdam!



So how was Amsterdam? Well I have heard so much about the city from my husband and friends, that I was not quiet sure what all to expect. I went with an open mind and of course had a lovely time. If you are wondering did I loose myself into the wild side of the city?  Well I was fascinated with the city and the way it lets you be you. In my experience very few places on this earth can do that, but Amsterdam has actually mastered this rare trait. It is a city which welcomes all, pleasures most and above all does not judge any. The city gives you a curious sense of freedom which is very liberating.


Amsterdam is a city of bicycles. They are everywhere, parked all over the city and being ridden all around. The cycle lanes are, I think the most crowded parts of the roads, apart from the throng of touristy pedestrians. 



I forgot to insert the battery in my camera the first day, so could take no photos of any of the touristy places--boat ride on the canals, Anne Frank's house, the old city, the pretty houses by the water, the red light district. The second day when I did actually have a camera which was functioning, I decided not to take any of the usual 'Amsterdam' shots. Instead I took a few photos of the city which I found interesting. Some photos of the city through my lens.


We spent half of Sunday in Van Gogh's museum. I have always been fascinated with Van Gogh's paintings, his use of bold colours just blows me away. Got to know so much about this favourite artist of mine. Sadly The Starry Night is not there, but I loved all versions of his The Bedroom.


This funky & colourful city has a very 'live and let live' vibe which I really enjoyed. 


The city has these almost forgotten lanes, which you blink and miss. But if you are curious and do not blink much but tend to peep inside all lanes, sometimes views like these greet you.


These Vespa scooters are pretty popular in the streets of Amsterdam. I fell in love with this pink one parked in an alley way.

You can find more photographs of Amsterdam on Kitchen Karma's Facebook album.


Of course how can I let you go without some refreshments? Dear reader I have something rather special in store for you. I have some Darjeeling tea brought all the way from India.

The gorgeous cup & saucer in which the tea is served here is courtesy dotcomgiftshop, while the white mug is part of Royal Doulton's new range influenced by Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street Kitchen restaurant. This range is coming out in October 2013. 


If you know what Darjeeling tea is you know what joy I am talking about. For the uninitiated it is the queen of teas, the Champagne of the tea world. You can get to know more about it from here. The reason I am talking about this fine tea is because while I have often seen recipes for Indian milk tea/spiced tea and what the baristas call Chai Latte but hardly have I ever come across recipes of Darjeeling tea.


I have inherited my fascination with Darjeeling tea from my father. My father could be called a tea-man as in he spent most of the 30 odd years of his professional career in the Indian tea industry. I grew up hearing stories of Assam tea and Darjeeling tea, the difference between the two, how the two could be mixed to a perfect blend, how the leaves are plucked and then what happens to them, the whole process of drying and sorting, how tea is auctioned. We never bought tea, it always came from my father's office, wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string. Sometimes when they sent larger quantities they would send them in wooden boxes. No frills, no packaging. This was tea before it reached the commercial stage. My father would often be away in the tea gardens and I would wait for him to come back home with tea stories.

This white mug is part of Royal Doulton's new range of tableware which is coming out in October 2013.

Of course my father is rather fussy about the way the tea is made, no over boiling of water, half a tea spoon of leaves for each cup, 2 to 3 minutes of soaking time. The list and the fuss goes on and on. Last time I was in Kolkata, India he took me to this old tea shop, they mostly sell loose tea leaves which are stored in big wooden crates. They source their tea directly from the tea auction houses. Every time a customer asks  they would bring out some for the customer to inspect, smell, feel, see. A discussion would follow about the body, the colour, the aroma, if needed they would create a blend to cater to that customer's needs and then the customer would buy a small quantity (customers are discouraged from buying a lot because tea storage is not easy).  My father is a regular customer there now that he no longer works in the industry and hence no longer gets free packs of tea. We went there late  one evening when the shop was about to be closed, the shopkeeper graciously answered all my questions and then when he heard that I will be taking the tea abroad he proceeded to pack them with a lot of care, first came the brown paper, then silver foil, before going into bags. How I wish I have some photographs of that charming shop. Definitely on my list next time I go home.

In the meantime let's enjoy a cup of Darjeeling tea.


Hope you enjoyed the tea and my experience of Amsterdam. Have a good day.

Cheers,

Suchi

22 comments :

  1. Excellent pictures of Armstradam.
    Deepa

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  2. Wonderful photos; I would love to visit Amsterdam one day! Lucky YOU!

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  3. I love reading about your travelogues. Lovely clicks as usual.

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  4. Lovely pics and such pretty cuo saucers..loved loved loved them

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    1. Thanks a bunch Jaita :-) Wait till you see the new ones :-) Got a few more :-)

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  5. Suchi , wonderful and informative post , as usual ! Amsterdam is such an interesting place and your photos says it all . Did you buy some diamonds then ?! lol Haven't had Darjeeling tea before , it is expensive ?

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  6. Lovely clicks! Amsterdam is a photogenic city that I'd love to visit.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  7. I love this post Suchi and Darjeeling is one of my favorite teas!!

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  8. We had friends rave about Amsterdam after their trip last fall...hope to visit one day. And as a tea fan, I'd love to drink a cup of Darjeeling with you!

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  9. Love Amsterdam and your beautiful captured the essence of that great walkable/cycable city :D

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  10. Hi Suchi, I can't help but notice all the beautiful artwork in the blogpost and your new header ,it's such a cute header! I love that steaming hot pot of goodness on the boil there! And the way you have posted the recipe on that school book paper like sheet, aah, such a fresh and good looking blog! Great Work,keep it up!

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  11. Lovely clicks of Amsterdam and yes Darjeeling is popular for it's tea too Suchi.. Hope to visit there one day :-)

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