I was all of 18 when I marked the first international trip of my life. It was with the elder sister Raka, and we flew to Bangkok where she was pursuing a Masters’ degree. We stayed in her boarding room, part of a two-room unit with a shared bathroom and kitchenette. My first memory of that trip – other than…
One of my biggest concerns, when the blog was taking off five months ago, was photographs. I could manage the touristy/birthday photos with my little camera. But I needed better. While I was struggling with these issues and hoping I could get the blog rolling on time, someone told me that an “awesome” photographer was about to conduct a food styling…
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…
I first heard about him when a friend and I were doing trial runs for the blog, sharing them with a select group of people for feedback. “He is an avid traveller. He used to blog too but it’s been a while since he wrote,” said Rem, explaining why his inputs on this blog would be helpful. “He has travelled to at least 50 countries and more. He is spending the New Year in Sri Lanka,” she added.
“Wait! What? Fifty countries at 33 and he has managed that while he works? Are you kidding me! How? Is travelling his job? Can he get me a job like his? Which places has he travelled to? How does he decide on his travel destinations? Where is he off to next?” Part jealous and part amazed, I sent a volley of questions Rem’s way, wondering how someone so young has managed to achieve a traveller’s dream while balancing his professional life. I was impressed.
Well aware of the way my mind works – and probably a little irritated by my questions – Rem decided to connect me with Varun so I could pepper him with questions, from one traveller to another.
What does a girl who has travelled to just a handful of places and only recently made her debut as a solo traveller ask a veteran solo traveller? A lot apparently, ranging from the obvious to the philosophical, including the million-dollar question “What does travelling give you.”
Here are bits and pieces from an hour-long conversation that turned out to be a treasure trove of information and inspiration.
At the New Year party 10 days ago, a bunch of us decided to warm up with a game titled “Looking Back”. Emotions ran high, albeit in a good way, and the room echoed with laughter and good-natured ribbing as we answered fun questions like: “Best song of the year”“Hardest you laughed last year”“Worst video of the year”“Most embarrassing moment”…