Destination Tea: Botiwalla

Where:  Atlanta, Georgia
Style:  Irani Cafe
Tea Selection:  House brewed Masala Chai
Teatimes:  Monday to Friday, 3 to 5
Reservations:  Walk-ins welcome
Contact:  404-225-8963
Cost:  $6.95 Irani Tea for Two; $3.95 Chai for One
Destination Tea Tip:  Park at Ponce City Market and look for Botiwalla in the ground floor food hall.

Prices and teatimes are subject to change. Please see our Georgia afternoon tea directory for the latest details.

Destination Tea Notes: Inside Ponce City Market, Meherwan and Molly Irani invite you to transport yourself across the globe when you step into their Botiwalla cafe. One of five acclaimed Indian street food restaurants they run in Atlanta and Charlotte, Botiwalla is a love letter to Meherwan’s heritage. Originally from Ahmednagar, India, and descended from Parsi immigrants from Persia, he celebrates the blending of Indian and Parsi cuisine and culture in Botiwalla’s menu and decor. Therefore, one should not expect a traditional British afternoon tea service here, rather a welcome tea break during your shopping outing, the star of which is an authentic, house-brewed hot chai. Chef Meherwan’s grandfather may have offered a similar tea service at his Irani Cafe in India, to cater to British colonialists. Indeed, it is because of British influence that the millennia-old Indian beverage made with water and Ayurvedic spices ultimately had tea, sugar and milk added to it, to become the traditional chai we drink today.

These two lovebirds will celebrate 50 years of marriage this summer! Sharing a bit of the ATL midtown scene with my visiting parents. You’ll walk through this food hall to find Botiwalla in the middle.
Botiwalla says, “we are inspired by the tea and kabab houses of India — also known as Irani cafes — represented in the decor of the space, with particular characteristics showing great affection for England and all things Victorian while also incorporating the unavoidably Indian way of filling up a space with knick knacks and color.”
A solid list of sensical cafe rules, especially appropriate for teatime: “No loud telephoning” and “No petting (heavy).” Got it! Apparently I also won’t be able to discuss my gambling habit here, or sleep in the toilet.

Tea Service

Note there is also an option for chai for one, with tea biscuits.
Served in a Sartaj stainless steel tea kettle made in Mumbai, Botiwalla’s house-brewed Masala Chai is spiced with cardamom and fresh ginger. Though the seemingly bottomless kettle offers the three of us second and third pours, we find just one or two small cups of the rich beverage enough to satisfy. This creamy, fragrant brew certainly provides ample fortification for round two of shopping.

Savories and Sweets

Presented on a stainless steel tray, the Irani Tea at Botiwalla encourages us to slow down and chat over a warming, casual snack, starting with maska pav (toasted Indian rolls served with jam and butter).
Touted as the world’s best-selling biscuits, Parle-G cookies are made in India, a crispy version of a vanilla wafer. They hold up very nicely to dunking, which we were encouraged to do at our last Indian teatime.
For the third bread, the Irani Tea comes with two tea rusks: a slightly sweet toast destined to become milk toast when dipped into your creamy chai.

Tea Pairing: Vahdam Holiday Teas

To set the mood for this blog post, I opened the Holiday Breakfast tea gift set gifted to Destination Tea by Vahdam Tea, an Indian teamaker that cuts out middlemen to pay farmers better, and donates 1% of revenues towards the education of tea growers’ children. Especially at the holidays, it feels good to give the gift of tea along with well-being for others, all in one purchase, but an equal motive to buy from Vahdam is that their Chai blends are outstanding in freshness and aroma.
When writing about chai, it is fitting to sip some onself. Vahdam describes this Vanilla Spice Masala Chai as having “warm flavors of creamy vanilla beans, soft undertones of cappuccino, and the engulfing top notes of woody spices.” Perfect for a chilly winter day.
Tea Voyageuse, discovering the world of afternoon tea, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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