Steep yourself in tea, at Teanest in Kotagiri
So after a seven hour drive, we rolled into the property which had tea bushes, stretched out as far as the eye could see. Down the hill slopes and up the next one, tea everywhere, one could drown in them. Fresh and green, with pickers already with their baskets half full, it was invigorating to see a hill station which is still not destroyed by local tourism.
Satish the steward cum general help in the resort came to assist us to bring our bags into the best room in the resort -- the Nightingale. It was a large room with a mezzanine floor where the kids could be accommodated.
The interiors were welcoming, perfectly comfortable and in ethnic colours and for me pristine white sheets are always the most welcoming. Then Steve and I look for the coffee/ tea making machine ?ause for some reason we feel like drinking tea or coffee the whole day in the cold. However, here in Teanest, we made the chef produce a nice jug of ginger chai which is really just tea leaves, boiled with milk and sugar and slivers of pounded ginger.
At home I make tea like the way my mother and father did, putting tea leaves into a warmed teapot and scalding the leaves with boiling water, out of an electric kettle. Then we leave the Kashmiri tea-cosy on the pot, which is an embroidered elephant, while the tea steeps for ? an hour. It is the best tea which one could drink, if you make it like the Brits did. Mum always said,boiling the tea brought out the tannins which were poisonous.
We rambled around the huge garden which was filled with bushes of Alstromeira flowering in gay abandon. The tables in the dining room were adorned with the flowers and they stayed fresh for the entire duration of our weekend.
Breakfast at Teanest was my favourite meal with crisp and hot from the pan, vadas and idlis. The sambhar had chow chow and beans from the veggie garden and the occasional radish. As for the coconut chutney, the coconut outstripped the dal and so I skipped the sambhar and enjoyed the vadas with the chutney, solo! And then ofcourse the delicious chai, this time with elaichi added.
We took a trip to see the Kodanand Viewpoint, as suggested by Augustine, the property manager. On a clear day it would be breath taking for sure. However we were unlucky reaching there and sadly the valley was wreathed in clouds.
We drove past on winding roads the wonderfully maintained tea estates of Jayalalitha the famous politico of TN, who was no more. Her family controlled the estate and we were told dark stories of how she wrested the estate paying pitiful sums to the previous owners. All along the road grew a lilac and white flowering plant which lit up the beautifully maintained roads.
The next visit was to the John Sullivan Memorial, the Brit who founded Kotagiri, Ooty and Coonoor. The house he built still stands, albeit surrounded with ugly buildings. The government maintains it as it was with its wooden floors and very similar to the homes which Shakespeare and Wordsworth had in the UK. Dank dreary, low roofed and small! Ofcourse our Indian government has decided to paint it red!
After which we went to load ourselves to take back, the best tea in the market. ?Go to Green Shop in the main mall road,? advised Augustine and we picked up all sorts of tea and also the citronella oil which I love to swab the floors from there. Again a legacy from Mum who swore citronella oil was a natural insect repellent and great to add to the swabbing water. Dad always planted Citronella grass in the garden to keep away the mosquitos too.
We passed the quaint bus stop with its strange tin roof which seems to have weathered the march of time. Just like the tin roof in Teanest which has stood the test of time since the ?30?s unlike our home in Goa which needs endless work every single year on the roof.
For lunch and dinner we scoured the menu card and shamelessly ordered butter chicken and chicken 65 along with masala mushroom and cauliflower and peas. Never tasted better cauliflower and peas, as both were fresh out of the hill farms. And ofcourse everything goes better with Kerala parathas, which we enjoyed, promising ourselves stiffer workouts once we returned!
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