My Relationship with tea is a bit weird. I honestly prefer coffee but every day I find myself sipping at least two cups of tea. It all started during my grad college days. I studied at a very humble college in Goregaon. I guess the main reason I picked the college was because they had morning lectures which ended by 11AM so I had the whole day to myself. What I didn't realise was that overcoming the need for sleep would be such a major problem. I made a few friends there and they introduced me to the perfect solution.
Our lectures used to start at 7AM so all my friends gathered at a spot right opposite my college which was a tiny tea shop. This shop was named 'Nagori Tam Tam' and they used to be the only thing open early in the morning so I basically survived three years of grad school on their Chai and Bun Maska as my breakfast.
But there was something different about their Chai. It was thicker and sweeter. It felt really rich and went really well with Bun-Maska-Jam. Over the years we started calling the shop TamTam and it had become our daily hangout. Eventually, I got out of college and started exploring the city. This is when I saw similar tea shops across the city and to my surprise all of them were named on the lines of 'Nagori Tam Tam Chai.' And what's surprising it that the tea at all of these places tasted exactly the same!
I also saw a lot of similarities between these shops. For example, they all had similar decor, metal chairs, large milk containers and big refrigerators. Another thing very peculiar about these places was the kind of people who worked here. All of these people had similar facial features. It was almost as if they were from the same gene pool. And I'm talking of a number of shops located across the city! How could there be such striking familiarity between these people? All of them spoke a language that I could relate to Marwari. I had too many questions in my head so I decided to look up the interwebs for some answers. And that's where all of my questions were answered.
All of these people were from the Nagori community. The Nagori's originally come from Nagaur in Rajasthan. This community is a very tightly knit one. They claim to be Rajputs and most of them have converted to Islam. Coming from remote parts of Rajasthan, Nagoris were marble tile manufactures for almost 7 decades. It was only 4 decades ago that a lot of these people took up Dairy Farming as an alternative career Choice.
Most of the Nagori Tea shops in the city are actually dairies that sell milk and other milk-based products such as Paneer, Dahi and Ghee. Over the years, the Nagori people have moved across India and are currently well spread through Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. But these are not the only cities where you can find Nagori Chai.
After the partition in 1947, many people from the Nagori community migrated to the Sindh province in Pakistan. In today's time, the Nagoris are well established in Karachi. They are associated with dairy farming even in Karachi and contribute a significant part in meeting the milk demand of Karachi.
So If you ever visit a Nagori Chai shop in Karachi, it is very likely that their tea tastes exactly the same as it tastes here in Mumbai!