BREW MAS­TER | SNIGDHA MAN­CHANDA BINJOLA, TEA

India Today - - COVER STORY - SOM­ME­LIER

In school, her friends called her “the girl with strange wa­ter” be­cause her mother would flavour her wa­ter with herbs and condi­ments to keep her healthy. Thus started Binjola’s love af­fair with tea, and from a very young age, she started col­lect­ing dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of it by re­quest­ing friends and rel­a­tives who trav­elled across the world to bring her as many choices as pos­si­ble. Once she grad­u­ated from NMIMS in Mum­bai, Binjola took up a com­fort­able job as a com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­fes­sional. But af­ter a few years, she took a sab­bat­i­cal to study at the Tea Som­me­lier Academy in Sri Lanka and hasn't looked back since. Her com­pany, Tea Trunk, cre­ates in­ter­est­ing blends such as Straw­berry- Pep­per­corn and Long Is­land Tea (non-al­co­holic), and sells them on­line and at var­i­ous bou­tiques across the city. The 29-year-old also or­gan­ises “chai walks”, in which tea lovers come to­gether and walk through South Mum­bai, sip­ping on var­i­ous kinds of tea at iconic tea venues. All the while, she im­parts in­for­ma­tion on said bev­er­age and the ex­pe­ri­ences she has gath­ered over the years. Work­ing in a largely male-dom­i­nated field, Binjola has faced sev­eral prob­lems be­cause of her gen­der. “I’ve never met any fe­male tea tasters in big com­pa­nies. When I go to tea es­tates to pick up teas, my knowl­edge is al­ways put to test. I have to earn my cred­i­bil­ity each time,” Binjola says. Un­de­terred, she plans to open In­dia’s first or­gan­ised tea school in Dar­jeel­ing by the end of this year.

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