Chai and Jam, Azerbaijan | Copyright Image | From The Corner Table

Chai, halva & Azeri hospitality

One of the most beautiful memories that I have brought back from Azerbaijan has been the Azeri passion for food and the warmth they extend to those who appreciate this passion. The warmth that envelopes you as the food bearers — be it the lady of the house or the restaurant server — place the food on the table and serve it…

Tea time tête-à-tête

This is the tale of a young princess, a little packet, a treasure chest and a childhood dream of unravelling tales stored in a trunk.

This is the tale of the princess who turned her passion and love for the little packet into a lucrative business.

This is the tale of Snigdha Manchanda, corporate slave-turned-tea sommelier and teapreneur, who is among the handful of people working to guide a nation of chai lovers towards understanding their teas better.

Those of you who’ve been with me for a while might remember my post ‘Tale of three teas’ when I had attempted three tea recipes. I’ve come a long way since. While my love for coffee remains unparalleled, I am now learning to appreciate tea. More after a visit to a tea estate in Munnar, Kerala, and a fun meet-and-greet session with Snigdha in Ahmedabad.

Snigdha’s is not a rags-to-riches story nor is it a saga of a battle-against-evils. Her story is more of a journey that started when her father gifted the young Snigdha his old trunk and a packet of tea that she stored in her precious trunk. This tea packet was joined by several others from across the globe – at one point she owned 100 types of tea – fanning her love for tea. A sabbatical from work, an interest in tea translating into training at a school in Sri Lanka led to Snigdha becoming India’s youngest tea sommelier in 2012.

Since then, through her passion and persistence, the now 33-year-old has shattered the ‘rules’ of the tea industry where, unlike her male counterparts, she has had to prove her ability and efficiency time and again. After all, one does not become a trendsetter with a company like Tea Trunk that curates ‘the finest teas of India and craft them into unique blends with all-natural ingredients without shooting down the odds.

Excerpts from a chat over chai with Snigdha Manchanda, tea sommelier and owner of Tea Trunk

Baku, Azerbaijan | Copyright Image | From The Corner Table

Baku, a potpourri of influences #Chapter 2

Holy smokes! A year ago at this time, I was walking through the lanes of Athens, debating over souvlaki and gyros while ticking places off my ‘must visit’ list. With my favourite travel partners – the elder sister and brother-in-law – I was busy getting a Greek suntan. Fast forward to the summer of 2018 and I am sharing tales from my…

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