The first time you spot a little board on top of an open door that reads ‘Teapots’, you’d feel the delight that every traveller feels upon finding that quaint little place where you can sit with a cup of your favourite drink and drift away into your own world of careless thoughts. I say ‘spot’ for very specific reasons- the door seemed elusive to me, as if it had travelled along with time and peoples’ gaze.
I gingerly step in, and voila! I find myself surrounded by teapots! There are so many of them; some hanging from the roof, others neatly stacked up in beautiful old-world shelves, that I am suddenly reminded of Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. I even take a quick check to see whether I’d shrunk down as Alice had. Relieved that all my faculties were intact, I try to find a good place to plonk myself comfortably.
'Teapots’ is literally an old, charming home, which is well equipped with a couple of hundreds of teapots, chairs, tea cartons for tables and other tea-inspired gears that you warm up to instantly. Bright yellow walls and unfussy seating that mostly lets you look out through the windows into the narrow street make it all the more cosy. There are also some surprises in store for you- you’d miss this if you aren’t looking for it: There are small wooden stairs that lead you to an attic-like area upstairs. If you’ve preserved the untainted child-like glee in you, you’d want to play fugitive in there, or lean on the railings close to the hanging teapots and gaze beneath, much to the dismay of other customers sitting downstairs. It’s wonderful to sit there, but you’ll be gulping down a little guilt when you see the staff take those ever-so-narrow stairs to take your order, with a smile!
Coming to food, ‘Teapots’ is a tea place, as its owner, Mr Sanjay Damodaran puts it, rather very simply. It started off in 2005 as a little kiosk for teas. Today, they have a large variety of flavoured teas on their menu. Starting with plain tea and Nilgiri tea, the menu extends to camomile, jasmine tea and cranberry tea among many others. They also have coffee on their list, which is not as varied as the tea menu, but is delicious all the same.
The joint does not offer a wide range of food, which it acknowledges quite honestly. You can kick-start the day here with an English breakfast—fluffy cheese omelettes, sunshine -tinted toasts and the chilli cheese toast that makes up for a unique mix of taste—the heat of the chilli so creamily covered by the cheese tucked away inside the toast! It's a party in your mouth! They also have some authentic Kerala cuisine, such as Appam and stew, Kerala fish curry with breads and so on. Appam is a hot favourite among most Keralites and non-Keralites. The stew, with its perfect mix of veggies and coconut milk, is nothing short of divine. There are also sandwiches and pancakes dabbed in honey that’s available throughout.
The cakes are quite a treat- they come to you fresh out of the oven complete with that little wisp of home-made cake flavour. You can choose from the menu that includes 'Death by Chocolate', which is among the most famous of chocolate delicacies, choco-almond cake, choco-chip cake and speciality fruit cakes. The blueberry cheese cake is a must try! It's a layered delicacy with the base made of biscuits, cracker crumbs or biscotti (double-baked Italian cookie) for that soft crumbly base, a thick layer of lush cream cheese in between and blueberry (or syrup) as the topping! What more can you ask for?!
"The place runs on its own steam,” says Sanjay, who frankly states that it’s a very seasonal business, considering that the clientèle is largely tourists who come around to visit the Old Kochi town. This idea for a tea place stemmed from linking simple facts- People like tea, despite the onslaught of coffee giants.
Sanjay collects his teapots mostly from Jew Town, or from Palakkad, and his friends reserve them for him knowing he is an aficionado.
“Teapots is a simple place; it’s that little refuge that people sometimes search out, to read, write, to be by themselves. One can sit here all day, with cups of tea, books and conversations,” Sanjay says. I can see that it is true, for people come in with diaries, sit by the window and keep scribbling. “We don’t offer a lot. This is what we have, and this is what it is!” He concludes, fair and square.
It is that place, which quite easily adds to the languid vibe that people who’re holidaying generally carry around. It is best suited for a cosy evening, as lights and lanterns inside look prettier then, when all you want is some undecipherable-yet -pleasant Spanish-sounding songs, cakes, tea and maybe someone you know beside you.
You'll find Teapot Cafe at Pete Celli Street, Fort Kochi.