In this era of health gurus and hale shishyas, the question "coffee, tea or me?" may not be downright facetious. Any hunk plumping for the third choice should fortify himself with tea first, if adman and tea-freak Prahlad Kakkar is to be believed. Kakkar, busy brewing interest in Mumbais revamped Tea Centre, says: "Everybody asks me how I dont look my age." His reply: "Its because of tea. Keeps you horny." Kakkars guffaw is, however, not meant to muffle the seriousness of his reply: "The Brits stole tea from China, ran across the border to plant it in Assam, claiming it as their own. The best was sent off to Europe (which even now sips the fragrant varieties) while we had only left-overs."
Such devotion fermenting in teas favour keeps coffee aficionados busy blending their own health lists. Bulky literature on both steams up debate. The enthusiasm of a Kakkar is matched by a coffee devotee in Farzana Contractor of Afternoon Despatch & Courier. If tea is rich in anti-oxidants (the good guys of cellular life combating the bad guys of disease and damage called free radicals), coffee too has traces of it. If tea (particularly the green variety) bolsters the heart, coffee jousts with gallstone formation. Both are gulped by those on the graveyard shift (studies show healthy alertness in consumers of either). If caffeine isnt admissible in a health dictionary, it smears a tea cup too (a cup of coffee contains 50-150 mg of caffeine while 50 mg of it can be found in a cup of tea). Sip for sip, both are evenly poised in the battle for the consumers lip. For every Tea Centre (or Cafe Churchill which offers apple- or peach-flavoured tea) theres a Coffee Shop tucked away in a corner of the Crossword bookshop where Espresso or Cappuccino acquires cerebral flavour.