I had strictly been a coffee lover all my life. That was until I discovered tea in Bangladesh on my recent trip for an internship with the Grameen Bank. Bangladesh has a ‘cha’(tea) culture; you are always served tea in homes and offices, regardless of the time of your visit. Sometimes, I had 5 cups of tea a day- initially as a result of never refusing one when offered (so as not to offend my hosts) but eventually learning to appreciate the refreshing warmth of the aroma at the end of a long day. You can tell that the tea there is special with its distinctness, but in Sreemongal they’ve taken it up a notch to create something that’s truly unique: the seven layered tea.
Sreemongal consists of many tea estates and the Bangladesh Tea Research Institute. The seven layered tea is found only in Sreemongal and a restaurant, somewhere in old Dhaka (or so I’d heard). So I made the six hour journey from Dhaka to Sreemongal for a taste of the famous seven layered tea. Originally the tea was created by Romesh Ram Gour and served at the Nilkantha Tea Cabins, which has a few branches (two, I think). There are a few other places that offer their own versions of six, seven and even ten layered tea. From what I heard from the locals, none are as good as the one at the Nilkantha Tea Cabin.
After about forty minutes of waiting, and a curiosity that was increasing by the minute, I was served what was the most amazing tea I’d ever tasted. The kind that you fall in love at first sip, holds your fascination and keeps you guessing what’s in it. The tea is a lovely concoction of different kinds of black and green teas. The layers consist of milk, spices, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and if I guessed correctly, some lemon and honey. As you move from one layer to the next, you can smell and taste the varying spices and flavours. You can choose from the two, five or seven layered tea. The seven layered tea is the most popular one and cost about 70 Bangladeshi Taka at the time of writing.
The layered tea alone is worth the trip to Sreemongal, however, you can also visit the beautiful tea states, fruit gardens and forests around the area. I have yet to taste a coffee that I found as fascinating as the seven layered tea, which is surprising, considering that I have had so many all my life. But that’s just how love is, it often strikes you in the most unexpected places.
Read more about my experiences in Bangladesh on my Bangladesh Travel Blog.