"I grew up collecting teas from around the world. friends and family, who would travel well would bring back teas from around the world, from Japan, China, Russia, South Africa, Kenya, and so on. I stored them in my father's old trunk, a very very dear treasure to me. At one point in time, I owned different exotic and rare teas from around the world.
But I knew very little about them. So, decade later, i decided to study tea. And growing up in India where tea is such an integral part of our day and also that it is a leader in tea production in the world, how difficult can you imagine it would be to study tea. I was in for a big surprise because in India there wasn't a single tea school to study tea. So, in 2011 I took off to Sri Lanka, to study tea professionally. It was a beautiful experience. Waking up at 5 in the morning, going down to the tea estate and plucking tea with the workers and coming back to the factory and seeing how those leaves are processed and in the evening brewing a cup from the same leaves that we plucked that morning. It was a wonderful experience, it changed everything that I knew about tea.
I learned that behind every cup of tea there is a story, there is a ritual and a culture. For eg: Darjeeling is celebrated world over as the champagne of tea and even that green tea and black tea don't come from different plants. All teas, green,black, purple, yellow, white, etc. they all come from the same plant i.e. the Camellia Sinensis. I was very excited to come back and share my learning. I travelled across Assam, Darjeeling, Nilgiris visiting various tea estates. India produces some of the finest teas in the world but they continue to remain unexplored by it's own people. There is not a single global tea brand coming out of India. The world ove is turning to India to capitalise on the Tea addiction of one billion people, we still fail to look within.
Quality tea producers believe that there is no market for these specialty teas. CTC, which is the tea that is used for making Chai dominates consumption charts. All of these changes are being noticed and more and more people are joining in and talking about it. When I returned from Sri Lanka, I started Tea Trunk, a tribute to the same trunk where my tea journey began and we work with tea producers across India and also the consumers of tea. This two sided approach has allowed us to align and complete the whole circle and create market and new opportunities. It has been a fascinating journey. Tomorrow morning when you wake up to your cup of tea, I'd like you to ask this question, who grows your tea?. I guarantee, whichever part of the world you are in, 2/5 cups can be traced back to India. Tea was first discovered in the east and was prescribed as a medicine ecause of it's medicinal properties.
In the East, the consumption patterns are changing, while we are slowly fancying a cup of coffee, whereas in the west we are rediscovering the health benefits of tea. My dream is to set up India as a global learning hub for tea, because India without a Tea School is like France without a Wine School."