Vaideghi Kanan – Tea Maker at Tea Studio
Vaideghi Kanan’s family has been involved with tea for decades. They grow the green leaf that is sold to one of the numerous tea production facilities in the Nilgiris. Many of the women who grow up in this region find themselves tending the terraced hill sides of tea plants, plucking leaves from the plants year-round in this prolific tea growing region.
However – not Kanan. At age 32, Kanan is not reporting to work in the fields, but rather in the factory as head Tea Maker. She has joined the all-women production team at Tea Studio – a specialty tea factory and educational facility in the town adjacent to where she grew up. Led by Muskan Kanna, this all-female production team is an anomaly in an industry where the oversight and managerial roles have been, almost exclusively, reserved for men.
Tea Studio, with its state of the art equipment and educational opportunities, continues to draw expert tea makers from around the world. Muskan Kanna, the Factory Manager, is trained by these professionals in both ancient and avant-guard ways of producing teas. She then bestows that knowledge to Kanan who is responsible for bringing those teas to fruition. She is the one on the ground, making and overseeing tea production in the factory.
Growing up in the Nilgiris, Kanan was primarily exposed to CTC black teas. Working at Tea Studio has opened her eyes to both green and white teas, which she has grown to love.
Kanan is one example of a shift in power in the tea industry. Amongst the farmers she grew-up with, now she is the one setting the prices at which the green leaf is purchased. While it is unusual for a woman to occupy this role – she said she has been well received in the community. She feels excited to be part of the changing face of the tea industry, and re-setting the roles of women.
She is grateful for this opportunity to work with Kanna and Tea Studio, and embraces all the knowledge and responsibly being handed her way. Kanan described the comradery she and her colleagues share in the factory. “We all like being here… we don’t want to leave even on the holidays,” she admitted laughing.
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