05 September 2014

Deha Tea Estate. Photo Credit: Snigdha Manchanda


Sometimes you feel as if the ancient wisdom had it all figured out. At times it is just propaganda. However, the mystic charm of the ancient texts remains intriguing nonetheless. I hadn't heard of Vrikshayurveda until recently. It is an established branch of Ayurveda that deals with the health of plants. It is akin to the organic farming methodology and might be even more relevant in today's times.

April, this year, I visited an organic tea estate for the very first time and the learning's were an eye opener. Being a city girl, and seeing organic products on shelves, I've always wondered what make them so unusually expensive and so exclusive. And on this visit to Deha Tea garden in Upper Assam, I for the first time saw all the hard work put in by the farmers to ensure that the produce is organic.

I met Mr. SN Agarwal of Deha Tea gardens. The tea gardens have been in his family for three generations. He asked me, 'when do you take medicine?'. I replied 'when I'm not feeling well'. 'Exactly,' he replied.

If you are always feeling well, there would be no need to take medicines, and that is the science of Vrikshaayurveda. The tea bush can be made healthy right from its birth and so we do not need to use any medicines/pesticides or insecticides to pollute the tea.

They nurture the tea saplings and tea bushes to maintain a healthy crop, and even if there is an attack of insects or pests, the kind of pesticides they use are not poisonous chemicals. I was surprised to see that the pesticides chamber that they have is actually a big well of cow urine, cow dung, neem leaves, fish scales, and different kinds of herbs such as holy basil. In fact, the most unusual things I could ever imagine work as pesticides.

05 September 2014

Deha Tea Estate (2). Photo Credit: Snigdha Manchanda


These are processed through a bio-gas plant and are sprayed through the crops. They do this very regularly to make sure that the infestation is contained and does not spread to the rest of the crops.

I feel that it's not a far cry or something unusual that we are asking tea companies and tea manufacturers to go back to the more indigenous or more traditional methods of farming which have existed on this land for centuries.

It may be perceived as a short term loss for commercial companies, but in the long term, it's definitely beneficial to both the companies that take this pledge as well as to the consumers of these teas who can benefit from the real health benefits of tea. Tea was first discovered as medicine in China and it was given in small quantities to people who had complaints of headaches, laziness, lethargy etc.

Tea/ Cha or Chai has become such an integral part of our daily lives in India that we have forgotten that it is actually true that tea has medicinal properties so if we are drinking tea for good health, it is better to choose a cup which is free of any harmful chemicals, pesticides or insecticides etc.

At Tea Trunk, I personally travel to all the estates that we source tea from. I've during these travels tasted hundreds of cups of teas, whether organic or non organic. But with the experience that I had at the Deha Tea Estate and the family's involvement in it and their commitment to it, I realize that it is something we must applaud. As an owner of a tea company, I would humbly request the commercial big tea brands that of course have a major voice in the way tea is farmed, to pledge to clean their chai.

Click here to say yes to clean chai!

Snigdha Manchanda is the founder of Tea Trunk and a certified tea sommelier.

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