Jan 302013


Hot Tea Across India – Review by Desi Traveler

Those of you who read about the Hyderabad bloggers meet will remember that as part of gifts given to us bloggers I received a signed copy of “Hot Tea Across India” by Rishad Saam Mehta from Anuradha Goyal, who writes one of the best travel blogs from India and publishes the most comprehensive book review blog from India.

So it is with great humility I write my take on  Hot Tea Across India by Rishad Saam Mehta

Initially, I thought that it is a book about different kind of teas served in various parts of India, boy was I glad to be wrong.  The book is actually a travelogue where Rishad  a well-known and widely published travel writer takes you for a roller coaster ride from the heights of Himalayas to the fights of Kerala. In the process, you are treated with some of the finest, sweet as sherbet and invigorating garam dhaba chai  or Hot Tea across India.

Let me start this post by once again thanking all those who attended the Hyderabad Bloggers meet 2013, specially Anuradha for gifting me this book which made this post possible.

hot tea across India signed by Rishad Saam Mehta

Hot Tea Across India- my copy signed by Rishad Saam Mehta

Though the book begins with Rishad talking you in believing his love for a hot cup of tea at the most obscure of highway dhabas,  is the theme, but you soon realize that tea is just one of the characters in the book. The main character of the book is his various travels on both motorcycle as well as cars across India, with a special focus on the mighty Himalayas both for the bike as well as car trips. Though other parts of India are sprinkled throughout to add the spice of variety.


If I have to find a common theme through the book is then it will be that you meet the most interesting people on the road and you get the best memories of your life on the road. This is one book that will easily qualify as a natural-born citizen of Humoristan, such is the style of writing by Rishad.  Rishad’s love for road travel comes out loud and clear from the book, but mind you he is not a reckless road raider, he is somebody who drives to enjoy and not to show off or win the race. Though he did win Raid de Himalaya in 2004, considered to be the toughest till date due to bad weather, his vehicle on those roads where the Mars rover was tested- Maruti Alto!  I hope I am able to make my point.

The book documents the day-to-day life in the rural India as a city-bred guy sees it, so we are introduced to the buffalo wala who brings the buffalo to deliver milk right to the chai shop. We meet as rustic as it can be dhaba owners and truck drivers and he travels with them happily, trying to sleep under the drying undies of the truck driver, sharing a bus ride with goats and shepherds and riding his bike in dark on dangerous mountain roads in the middle of night. Mind you not even once he passes judgment on these humble folks, or tries to portray India as the land of snake charmers and naked fakirs, instead he actually enjoys their company and is amazed like a little boy at their earthy wisdom. So you meet a nomadic Pathan in Pahalgam who volunteers to be his guide, khansama (Cook) and friend during his camping in Kashmir and then you meet the polished guide in rural Karnataka whose love for the history of the monument makes him stand apart from the petty peddlers of the pious place.

The beauty of the book is it will easily pass as an action-packed spy thriller also with Indian police in J&K and communist arsonist in Kerala chasing him! But none of this appears to be forced at any point of time and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book on my flight from Mumbai to Hyderabad with a cup of tea costing me the price of at least 10 teacups on a highway chai shop.

His writing style is very natural and full of folksy humor with a vivid picture painted in front of you that you do not miss lack of pictures in a travel book. I would highly recommend the book to anybody who likes to travel, the 195 rs you will pay for the book will be one of your best spent on travel.

My favorite part?  The Wild Assess of Rann of Kutch who turn out to be smart Assess. Read the book to   find more  🙂



  16 Responses to “Hot Tea Across India-Review”

Comments (16)

  2. Thanks for the review… Have to purchase the book once I finish John Keay’ Spice Route… history and geography of culinary habits make such an interesting read…

  3. Nice comprehensive review! I think I would love to pick this one!

  4. Thanks for this..sounds very interesting!

  5. I am a tea lover:) Nice post

  6. Sometimes I feel, tea is also one of the things that connects India from its length to breadth. Seems to be a good read, I am anyway very fond of reading travelogues.

    Thanks for review.

  7. You make me want to read this one. Really!

  8. Great review– now I’m intrigued about this book.
    –Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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