Home Feature news ‘Bridgerton’ did justice to Indian tea and I feel so alive

‘Bridgerton’ did justice to Indian tea and I feel so alive

In theBridgerton Season 2 premiere on Netflix, Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) utters the words that won me over: “I despise English tea.”

With the debut of Kate and Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran) ahead of Season 2, fans weren’t sure how the characters’ Indian identity would play into the series. Bridgerton doesn’t quite take place in our reality, with people of color prominently positioned in 19th-century London high society, right up to Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel). Would the Sharmas even be explicitly Indian? Were they raised in England or did they recently arrive? Does…colonialism…exist?

The season premiere answers some of that upfront: The Sharmas have arrived fresh from Bombay, where Lady Mary (Shelley Conn) moved years ago after falling in love with an Indian man. The Sharmas return to London society to find a match for young Edwina and regain the favor of Mary’s parents, and Kate never misses home as much as she does during tea time.

For those unfamiliar, English tea is arguably a bastardization of Indian tea. Black tea leaves such as Darjeeling, pekoe, Assam, and Ceylon are crammed into tea bags, which are steeped in hot water and customized with cold milk and sugar.

Indian tea is, simply put, an art form. Water is boiled with varying spices — usually ginger and cardamom, but sometimes cloves, cinnamon, fenugreek, and more — as well as loose tea and milk. It is cooked for as long as necessary to blend the spices and achieve the right color and consistency (disclaimer: I am still not good at this. Plz do help). 

In episode 3 of Bridgerton Season 2, we see Kate splitting the difference to make do; crushing cardamom pods right into her teacup in the hopes of flavoring whatever she has been served. It’s a quiet, almost stealthy action — easy to overlook for anyone around her, unless she does this right at the tea table. But the look on her face as she sits there sipping flavored tea is sublime.

Credit: Liam Daniel / Netflix

Personally, I don’t dislike English tea. It’s easy to make and can hit the spot in a pinch, plus my office doesn’t have a stove. My parents actually prefer English tea, but my mom uses leaf tea instead bags to achieve the perfect brew.

Kate is probably experiencing what my mother and I go through every time we visit our English relatives, which is just a constant onslaught of over-steeped and under-flavored tea. English people take tea with and after every meal. I’m also unable to refuse tea, so it’s common for me to be on my sixth cup of the day, fully not enjoying myself, and unable to even recognize let alone voice the concern.

The only reason I don’t ever drink as much Indian tea in a day is that it’s so much work. But maybe I need to start carrying cardamom pods around like my queen Kate Sharma. Maybe Bridgerton‘s English viewers will take a step back, reflect on their sins, or start a campaign to return the Koh-i-noor to its rightful home. Maybe no one will care about this. But I will brew my afternoon cup and curl up to watch Bridgerton feeling slightly more at peace.

Bridgerton Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.

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