When in Bangladesh, drink tea

I am a self-proclaimed caffeine addict. Notice I said addict and not snob. If I don’t have my morning fix within a hour of waking, I feel the beginning stages of headache and fatigue. Before we took off, I stocked up on single-serve packets of Starbucks instant coffee in case I didn’t have coffee readily available in Dhaka. I’m glad I did, but last night I realized that drinking coffee (instant, to add insult) in Bangladesh is like going all the way to Rome and drinking Mad Dog instead of the local wine. When in Rome, drink wine. And when in Bangladesh, drink tea.

With it’s fertile soil and lush tea gardens, Bangladesh is heaven for tea connoisseurs. The flavor of Bangladesh tea is so rich and flavorful, that I don’t think I could enjoy a cup of Lipton ever again. You call that tea? Sure if you like the taste of wet paper in hot water, but don’t call it tea.

Every place in the world has its special drink. Puerto Rico has delicious coffee. Bermuda has rum. Russia has vodka. Brazil has acai berry juice. Germany has its famous beer, Italy has its wine, and Bangladesh has its tea. It’s part of the social experience to sit in a living room with relatives and close friends, hold up the cup to your nose and smell the hills of Sylhet and Chittagong, watch tiny leaf bits dance around and release color, and say chaa bhaalo hoichey the tea came out good. I had the most amazing cup of tea at my mom’s BFF’s house last night and wondered, with this available, why would anyone settle for Nescafe and Starbucks instant?

Nescafé is what most Bangladeshis drink at home and even in coffeeshops when they want coffee. I had some at the cafe adjacent to Aarong and found it quite good. They fancy it up with sugar and frothy milk, which was fine and dandy to me, but not for coffee snobs like the latke. Ground coffee straight from the bean is not readily in Bangladesh, so Nescafé is the next best thing. Most bongs, probashi bongs, and ABCD bong children like me whose parents always kept a jar of Nescafé at home, don’t know any better and prefer it to “real” coffee even.

From this point forward I think I will drink tea at people’s houses to be social, and for combatting headaches I will sit down with a cup of Nescafé.

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