Afternoon tea at Glenary’s, Darjeeling
Nehru Road, Chauk Bazaar, Darjeeling, India
Tel. +91 354 225 8408
There are a number of tea shops around town but if you wish to slurp a cup of Darjeeling’s most famous export whilst wallowing in the awesome view then you should make your way to Glenary’s.
It’s an old building painted white, located on the left as you walk up Nehru Road towards Chowrasta. The name sits prominently on the front, you can’t miss it. The cafe and snack bar is down a small flight of steps on the right of the building. Up the steps, on the first floor, there is a full blown restaurant. It is a rather elegant establishment serving a range of Indian, Chinese and European dishes at equally elegant prices. There is also a pub in the basement but it is the afternoon tea that I like to go for.
Immediately inside the cafe to your right is an old red British telephone box, although it seemed to be filled mostly with boxes in which cakes and pastries are packed for those that wish to take them home. To your left a counter selling a wide range of pastries, cakes and pies. The cheese pie is highly recommended and I can vouch for the chocolate brownies too. The cream cakes are also very nice but a little generic, the classic Victoria sponge was conspicuous by its absence, though maybe I was just unlucky.
Ordering can be a little confusing. The notion of a polite queue falls apart as people prowl back and forth along display case trying to make up their minds while the eyes of the eager staff dart from customer to customer wondering who will be the first to employ them. If you have already decided speak up. You’ll be given a given a bill which you then take around the corner to settle while the staff prepare your tray.
Tea comes from another counter directly opposite the cashier and is paid for separately. Darjeeling and Assam are available in small or large pots and Tulsi green and ginger teas are also available. Bringing up the rear are coffee and soft drinks. The tea counter will also organise hot food such as burgers, hot dogs and omelettes.
Having got your order in make for the big bay window at the back. You can sit out on the patio if you choose but despite the heaters it can still get nippy out there. I like my tea to stay hot for as long as possible.
There’s something quite poetic about puckering ones lips towards a cup finest Darjeeling whilst gazing out at the slopes and the bushes, drenched in afternoon sunshine, that produced it. On a clear day the lofty summit of Mt Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain, smiles down. Take a good book and idle away and hour or two. And remember, your little finger should poke at approximately a ninety degree angle to the cup.