It wasn’t exactly rain that we had that afternoon in Munsiyari, more of a heavy fog which slowly settled. We went back to the spot where we had seen the Koklass pheasant the previous day, but a Koklass never crosses the same road twice. The cold and the fog made the prospect of a chai somewhere a wonderful idea. But do you get a good cuppa on a mountain? School physics textbooks which pretended to answer the question did not emphasize that all theories should be put to test. In spite of such a deficient education, we decided to experiment.
As we climbed down towards Munsiyari we passed this odd looking restaurant. Could we get a chai here? It looked closed, but one of the huts behind had an open door. We investigated, and indeed it was possible. At an altitude of 2400 meters the air pressure is about 75% of what it is at sea level, and water should boil at about 92 degrees. The little calculator I carry at all times told me this as soon as I thought of asking (you probably carry the same calculator with you constantly). There were three of us, so we could even use the wisdom of crowds to judge the result. The conditions for the experiment were perfect.
We sat in a room which would have been marvelous if the day was clear. All the walls were made of clear sheets of glass. On three sides the view of the Panchachuli massif and neighbouring peaks would have been stunning. But the smoke and fog were dense. On the fourth side we could see the shed where this important experiment was running. So what if we’d not seen the Koklass? Here was a large painting of the Himalayan Monal and rhododendrons. The Family had carried several packets of biscuits in her backpack. We opened one for the wait.
The chai arrived soon enough. We declared that it was hot enough to warm us. The ginger added to the brew tasted great, and I loved the big jolt of caffeine. We got seconds. I think there is a point this answer to the question posed on Quora which I have used for the title of this post: “No. Not if you believe that there is only one good tea, and it requires water at 100 C. And if you believe that maybe you shouldn’t be on a mountain.” As for our experiment, it was successful. It gave a definite answer, which we had a consensus on: yes. All that remains is for others to do the experiment for themselves and check.