With the monsoon season upon us, tea is something we all crave for. While it is usually the traditional milky chai or an English breakfast tea that is our go-to, this notion is slowly changing. People are making way for fresh, premium quality, artisanal blends, which are healthier alternatives. If you’re on the lookout for a luxurious homegrown tea to savour this season, we have found just the right one for you. Meet the Ahmedabad-based label, Ahista Tea, delivering small-batch tea across the globe through its online portal.
Launched in 2019 by Canadian-Indian Ashmit Patel, Ahista comes from the Hindi word meaning ‘at a slow pace’ or ‘slowly’. “The label brings to mind the art of slow living by taking a step back and savouring each moment with thoughtfulness and intention. This is the type of experience that we want to create for our customers,” shares Ashmit.
But what piqued his interest in tea and gave birth to Ahista? It all started with some of his most cherished memories with his grandparents in India. “When family members would visit us, we stood in our kitchen passing around cups of tea. It is one ritual that truly symbolised unity and diversity, and one common language that transcended regional distinctiveness,” he shared. “A simple cup of tea offers an immediate entry into another world like a portal across the sea or the continent. It has been connecting people, places, and cultures for many centuries. Yet, in many countries, tea is still in its nascent stages. There isn’t a clear idea of what is rare and premium when everything is labelled so. As a collective group, we have to educate, define, and judge quality. I moved to India from Canada for a few years to build a base where sourcing, warehousing, distribution, manufacturing takes place in India – a place with an abundant tea tradition that Ahista Tea wants to communicate to the world in a contemporary way. With Ahista, we aim to preserve the rich cultural legacies but with an innovative spirit that reflects the modern-day tea drinker,” Ashmit adds.
In a chat with Ashmit, we find out what makes this tea so special to deserve a spot in your kitchen cabinet. Read on.
1. An Array Of Exciting Flavours With Lasting Aromas
Ahista includes a variety of interesting flavours in its premium and blends category. While its options allow you to stick to classic flavours, it’s their artisanal fruit blends we’ve got our eyes on. Take your pick from its bestsellers like Mogra (Jasmine Green Tea) and Blue City (Cream of Earl Grey), which use a unique, age-old scenting process. “For Mogra, green tea leaves are layered with Jasmine Flowers overnight. Once the Jasmine flowers bloom, they release aromatic oils into the green tea leaves. This process is done nine times for a pure, clean-tasting tea. The same method is used to create our Blue City (Cream of Earl Grey) – Assam black tea leaves are scented with Italian Bergamot Peel and Vanilla Beans,” shared Ashmit.
Other favoured products include Om (Sleepytime Tea), Vintage Chai (15 Spiced Herbal Chai) and Harvest Apple (Spiced Apple), as well as their recently launched classic flavours like Masala Chai and Earl Grey.
2. Tea Leaves And Blends Are Sourced From Regions Known For It
The brand packs and ships its tea from India as well as holds a distribution centre in Canada. Its Premium range has pure, unadulterated whole leaf teas made by women teamakers in small tea producing regions such as Manipur, Bihar, Mizoram. It is a true expression of the terroir and craftsmanship that go into them. For its blends, the ingredients are carefully crafted in-house by sourcing tea and dried herbs, fruits, and spices from regions where they grow best within India. For instance, the roses are from the fertile soil of Hoshiarpur in India’s fragrant Punjab region; a farm in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, provides the refreshing and cooling spearmint, and apples are sourced from the renowned region of Kashmir.
3. An All-Women Run Production, Sourcing And Manufacturing Unit
In many agricultural industries, tea relies on female labour. While women make up most of the workforce, they are underrepresented at a senior level, with few opportunities to progress. After travelling through many small family-run tea gardens across India, Ashmit identified the need to give women the chance to expand their skills and responsibilities. “All of our production, sourcing and manufacturing is run by women. The idea is to support and empower female teamakers and bring in gender equity,” says Ashmit.
4. Ahista Not Only Sells Tea But Also Teaware That Enhances The Drinking Experience
Did you know that even the kind of equipment used impacts the taste and aroma of tea? That’s precisely why Ahista invests in the correct teaware. For them, it’s their ceramic pieces that maintain their flavours. And the best part is that you can also buy ceramic cups along with their tea bags to have that perfect tea drinking experience. “We’re changing the way customers see tea, from commodity to luxury. This starts with the way we present and serve our teas. It means investing in the right equipment (like our single-serve, tea brewing vessel/ceramic pieces),” shares Ashmit.
5. It Is The Only Indian Tea Brand To Partner With Michelin Star Restaurants Abroad
Foraging its way into the international market, Ahista is the only Indian tea brand to partner with Disfrutar in Barcelona, Narisawa in Tokyo, Junoon in New York City and Tamarind of Mayfair in London – all Michelin-starred restaurants. While the brand offers a thoughtful, curated tea program with customised options for single-batch premium teas/tea blends, co-branded packaging and teaware to the restaurants, it uses this opportunity to create a lasting memory for the customers through the tea tasting and drinking experience.
“Our tea sommeliers visit in person or set up virtual sessions to educate owners and servers on how to brew tea properly. How we serve our teas (in ceramic teaware) becomes a representation of the restaurant – a luxury craft with the same artisan skill as a glass of wine or whiskey. It not only teaches new flavours and textures, but it unearths a time-honoured ceremony, ultimately broadening one’s understanding of tea. We also hold private tea pairings and events at our partnered restaurants. It’s a gastronomic trend, as we see tea take its place alongside wine,” Ashmit tells us.