We often hear the phrase ‘back in the good old days’, which makes us instantly want to step back in time and see if it was actually better back then. Thankfully some traditions continue till this very day, which gives us the opportunity to sample a piece of history. Chai served in Kulhars in Kolkata is one such tradition.
Kulhars are handmade from clay and are used to serve chai, Kulfi and Lassi. In Kolkata, when serving chai these tiny pots are fondly known as Bhar. These Bhar pots are moulded in a unique shape that resemble miniature ice cream cones. The beauty of drinking chai from these vessels, is that you get a nice earthy taste and aroma. In fact, it is said that if you nibble on the edge of a Bhar pot while sipping your chai you can take in more of the flavour.
These pots were used in other parts of India to serve chai, but overtime were replaced by plastic cups. Bhar pots are more hygienic than plastic cups, although the cost per pot makes it more costly to manufacture than plastic cups. In Kolkata, once the chai is consumed, the pot is thrown on the road and broken. This means that each day fresh batches need to be produced. In Kolkata millions of these terracotta cups are made each year and this artisanal occupation provides many locals with employment. These Bhar pots are sculpted on the potter’s wheel and then fired at high temperatures in kilns. Once the Bhar pots are complete, they are sold on to Chaiwallahs who buy them in bulk from the potters.
Drinking chai from Bhar pots in Kolkata is a unique and rare experience for tea lovers to add to the bucket list. If you cannot wait until your next visit to Kolkata, grab a Kulhar and enjoy your favourite masala chai. Click here to shop our Masala Chai.