Discuss as:

Tea, coffee and India's nascent café culture

Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

Men drink chai tea on the platform prior to departing from the Nizamuddin Railway Station in New Delhi on Feb. 7, 2012.

A first-time visitor to New Delhi might think Indians are addicted to coffee, Reuters reports. There are at least 10 coffee shops in Connaught Place, the city's financial and commercial hub, most within sight of each other and doing well.

But if somebody wanted to enjoy a cup of tea at a similar sort of café devoted to tea they'd be out of luck, even in the world's second-largest tea producer -- and a country where people drink nearly eight times more tea than coffee each year.

Adnan Abidi / Reuters

People drink tea from a roadside tea stall in New Delhi, India, on Feb. 5, 2012. There are numerous tea vendors who set up shop under a tree or on the streets in India, but the quality of chai they offer for five rupees (10 cents) is often suspect.

The lack of a single national franchise centered on tea, known in India as chai and served in a glass, has come into especially sharp focus now that coffee giant Starbucks is poised to make its entry into India.

"You can find nice coffee anywhere, but finding a perfect cup of chai outside is really tough," said Smiti Singh, a Bangalore-based software engineer, who drinks at least four cups of tea a day. Read on to find out how some chai entrepreneurs plan to change that.

Aijaz Rahi / AP

Customers at a premium Cafe Coffee Day outlet in Bangalore on Jan. 31, 2012.