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THE GAME CHANGER IN THE TEA BUSINESS · Muskan Khanna a game changer in the male dominated tea business plays by different rules · | Tea 'N' Teas

Muskan owns a boutique organic Tea Studio that is run entirely by women, she talks about being corporate and socially responsible. Read why she left the advertising business to create unique teas for the discerning, international palate

Muskan, please tell my global audience a little about you?

I was born in Assam, the heart of tea. After that, we moved to Dubai when I was four and later to Colombo during my teens. I graduated from Birmingham in media studies. I worked in Mumbai and Delhi in advertising for two years and then joined my dad in the tea business. In conclusion, it has been a process and a journey to get to my calling being involved in the tea business.

Walk me through the tea club? 

Our specialty tea unit is called the Tea Studio.  A unique one of its kind, tea production facility where teas are not manufactured industrially, but creatively crafted.  Every one of the 12 teas we create in the Studio is a one of a kind, stand alone tea.  Not grades, but individual.

I have heard of Darjeeling, Sri Lankan and Assam tea. Tell me a little about tea from the Nilgiris?

Teas from the Nilgiris have a distinctive character and a uniqueness.  These are all high grown teas (our Studio is at an elevation of 6,300′ above MSL) which can be recognized by the Nilgiri logo which is assigned to teas from this district.

What is unique about these teas?

Each of the 12 teas manufactured in the Tea Studio is made up of a whole, unbroken leaf. In regular factories, be it orthodox or CTC the teas are graded into different lots. Here at the studio one tea leaf will make one particular type of tea, no grading and no sorting is required as we have 0% dust.

What are the different ways we can drink tea?

There are plenty of different ways to drink tea. Tea can be consumed as a hot or cold beverage. Tea can be brewed with milk and sugar, just milk, just sugar, some people put cane sugar while others make it with a mix of spices and herbs.

Can tea be used in cooking? 

Off course. For instance, green tea cakes and green tea flavored biscuits. My personal favorite is a green tea infused roast chicken. It consists of a marinade of ginger, garlic, olive oil, thyme, and rosemary. The tea is in a foil and placed inside the whole chicken and cooked in the oven for about 40 minutes. As a result, once you cut the chicken, you get the aroma of tea and can taste it in the chicken itself.

What are some of the qualities required to be a tea sommelier?

One needs to be passionate and dedicated to the craft and love it.  A tea sommelier is like an artist, creating while working not with ‘dead’ or ‘lifeless’ material such as wood, paint or clay, but with a living and alive part of a plant.  The Tea leaves.

What is the difference between organic and normal tea? 

Organic teas emanate from fields which are organically cultivated in which no chemicals, pesticides or inorganic fertilizers are used.  Organic teas simply take one back to nature and to the way crops were cultivated before humans started degrading the soil.  The teas produced in the Studio are all deemed organic since the starting point of these teas is naturally organic raw material (the leaf).  In conclusion, purity.

How are your practices sustainable and how are you corporate and socially responsible?

We are the only factory in India that runs on 100% LPG, which means we use no coal or firewood like regular factories making us totally environmentally friendly. We are 100% women run organization, from the head of operations to the tea maker and the workers are all women. We have employed the women from the local villages around, helping the community and empowering women all the way through.

Tell me a little about the food here and your favorites dishes?

Indian food is usually quite spicy and full of flavor. My favorite dish of all time is Biryani. Biryani is a dish made of rice and meat, its cooked for a couple of hours and is eaten with curd and pickle.

Tell me a good joke about tea?

What do you call a talkative drink?

Chai Tea.

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