The Chinese ice crackle glaze ceramic tea bowl is quite a long description for such a tiny bowl with an even teenier koi fish carved into its centre. But how else does one get a full picture? My latest favourite thing is this bowl from which I drank, sipped, the most – the most – refreshing tea I have ever had. Can things make you happy? Yes. The tea and I are proof. The resultant happiness lasted the rest of the evening – a few hours so that’s not bad. But back to this bowl and the tea. It’s a mini Chinese tea bowl and the trick with the koi in the centre is an old one I understand – they are a thing in China, varieties of them floating about. Bright orange koi in bowls of every shade of blue. The crackle on the glazed ceramic of the bowl is so fine. All of it is quite stare worthy if it happens to you for the first time. The white tea? Aaahhhhhhh.
Now on to Sancha – where I encountered bowl, koi and tea. Well, Sancha, the tea boutique has been around for ages but it’s taken me this long to add appreciation to my love for it. I have loved stepping into it – the Lavelle Road one in Bangalore for ages for when in doubt, buy tea. The boutiques are inspired. They are, of course, all about tea in every form, aroma, leaf type and length. Tea paraphernalia abound to envelop you in the world of tea. A selection of delicate silver teaspoons framed on the wall, tea pots of varying girths, decorations, origins and purposes, infusers, cups, cosies and finally the array of teas, like royal families displayed on the shelves in canisters, in boxes, in pouches, sachets containing in them the glory of distant tea gardens.
Two lime green wing-back chairs arranged invitingly next to windows overlooking Lavelle Road – our one truly elegant street, set the tone and suggest you sit back and make yourself positively at home and enjoy the white tea that has been handed to you by staff who, like the tea, are just right – friendly and warm but not at all intrusive. Sit there I do, my cares washing away with every sip of white infusion.
Tea can do this. Stop the world. Make everything right. And Sancha does the tea right. Its design does what design is supposed to do – subtly direct you, create an experience, make you experience an atmosphere, a concept – in this case the genteel world of tea, the variety and refinement of tea, the healing effects of tea, the grand past of tea – the very niceness of tea. Who wouldn’t want to be lost in the mists of Blue Mountain White or the exotic charm of Moroccan Mint White or the revitalizing fragrance of Lavender White? Who wouldn’t want to roam the Darjeeling hills through teas as complex as wines, or let the subtle flavour of Oolongs flow through you or be healed by the gentle green? Tea is an exploration, geographical, cultural and ultimately inward.
There is an authenticity about the design of this store, commercial though its purpose may be. One feels there is real knowledge contained in all the containers – you will simply absorb the world of tea. You feel like choosing – long leaf or black, white or green. There’s a generosity in the abundance of touches – craftsmanship in brass, enamel, silver and wood, fine needlework and an array of natural materials like linen, fine cotton and jute, painting on ceramic. All of it come together to soothe and uplift. It makes you believe a nice cup of Darjeeling or a gentle green tea poured from just the right tea pot is indeed the answer – all your troubles seem so far away.
There is a reason people in the old days offered you a cup of tea to mark any occasion – the hour of the day, to calm your nerves, to add a little more fun to a good gossip session, to keep you company while you read by the window, to warm a rainy afternoon – a good tea is the answer to most things. And Sancha takes you right inside the heart and soul of tea. So step right in and drink it all up.