Tea is the universal language that binds every Punekar. The need for chai can be seen in the city’s various tea shops, amruttulyas. The term is a portmanteau of two words amrut and tulya, which translate to comparable to nectar in Marathi.
The tea made in these teahouses is, therefore, equated with the food of the gods, and is slightly different from regular chai. For example, the tea is made in a special brass kettle, which lends a slightly metallic taste to the drink. Lots of sugar and milk are added to the tea leaves and then brewed for a long time, giving the chai a syrupy quality. Finally, the drink is strained through a cloth, instead of a metal sieve.
“There’s a sense that you’re getting something special when you go to an amruttulya,” says Priyanka Gore, a university student who was born and brought up in Pune. “You get more types of tea in an amruttulya compared to regular tea stalls. For example, amruttulya offer gulacha chaha which isn’t easily available everywhere,” she explains. Gulacha chaha is tea steeped with jaggery, which adds a rustic taste.
Here are five amruttulyas you must go to and soak in a Punekar’s love for teahouses.
Aadya Amruttulya is the oldest tea house in Pune, and was started in 1924. The tea here is infused with a special spice blend that they have been using since they opened. “It is a mix of cinnamon, cardamom, and locally sourced spices,” said owner Rahul Chandrashekhar Natekar in a 2022 article by news publication The Times of India.
Yewale Amruttulya started out as a small tea shop in 1983 by the 16-year-old Dashrath Yewale. Its popularity grew when he introduced snacks along with the tea, reports a 2018 article, titled How this Pune chaiwala makes Rs12 lakhs a month, by Condé Nast Traveller India. Now, one cannot travel more than five kilometres in the city without passing by a Yewale Amruttulya outlet which is always full of people enjoying tea.
This teahouse opens its doors at 5am, which is perfect for refreshing oneself after a gruelling morning run. Alongside the classic amruttulya tea, Puneri Amruttulya also offers cold coffee and an assortment of different fruit juices, from orange to mango.
This amruttulya in Pimpri-Chinchwad sells various snacks like flavourful missal pav and crispy batata vada made from spiced potatoes which is a great accompaniment to their sugary tea. The teahouse also has outlets in Mumbai and Nashik.
Maitri is Marathi for friendship. Amruttulyas have always been spaces where one can catch up with friends or make new ones while leisurely sipping on chai. Snacks like vada pav and sandwiches are also offered at the amruttulya.