Home > Art + Culture > My Chai in a Kullad (Earthen Cup)

My Chai in a Kullad (Earthen Cup)


By Neha Malik


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Who doesn’t love their chai?

For any north Indian, chai (tea) is sacrosanct. The bed time tea concept is customary. Coming from a Punjabi family, chai was served several times a day, nashte wali chai (tea with breakfast), shyam wali chai (evening tea), bed time tea and multiple reasons throughout the day to have it.

I love my tea too, the smell of ginger and cardamom steaming from my cup of chai. Cup? Did I just say cup? I meant more like my kullad. A kullad is a small terracotta cup usually unglazed. It is tiny and easily cups into your hands and gives you the perfect warmth for those freezing winter mornings.


What ladle is to soup, fondue is to cheese, kullad is to chai. Long before we were introduced to cups and saucers the average Indian used kullads to enjoy their tea. They were also used to drink milk, eat kulfi, rabdi in or sometimes even to make yogurt. Typically, they were left unglazed and not reused and as kids the part we looked forward to most was actually dropping and breaking the kullad.

The experience of drinking chai in kullad is very tactile. The coarseness of the cup touching the lips and then a gulp of the extra sweet and milky tea as you sip. It is one that uses all your five senses especially if you make a slurping sound while drinking it. Drinking out of a kullad has a very rustic and rural feeling to it, it’s romantic and evokes a feeling of an era when time passed slowly and life was stress free.

Today, you can still find tea being served in kullads at some dhabas and small tea stalls, but largely it is being left behind by most of the urban settlers. Unfortunately, they have been replaced with plastic cups which come at a fraction of the cost and are easy to use and throw away.


I hope through this piece I can evoke the feeling of drinking chai in a kullad to you and if you are still craving this experience, do put it down on your bucket list for your next trip to India.


Neha expects to launch a new website for online orders in the summer, but if you would like to order a custom piece please email her at [email protected]


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