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An invitation to tea

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Tea time The perfect brew
Tea time The perfect brew

Sandeep Subramani brews tea and many conservation ideas for the Nilgiris, where his tea comes from

It is an enterprise that would make it to anyone’s list of dream jobs. But for young Sandeep Subramani, it is no dream, though he does admit that he is fortunate. He runs a ‘tea lounge’ out of a 19th Century cottage in the salubrious Nilgiris.

And, along with tea, he ensures the kitchen is stocked with things described as ‘lush butter cookies filled with almonds’, ‘soft centred dark chocolate truffles, ‘almond and raisin scones sandwiched with cream, ‘tea cake laced with dark chocolate’… It is no wonder his tea lounge is called ‘Tranquilitea’.

Tea like wine

Sandeep has grown up with tea so to speak, with his granddad being a planter of considerable repute in the Nilgiris. So, when he speaks of the Silver Tips and the Golden Tips or the Bai Mudan and the Oolong, you hear him out with respect.

To enhance his tea lounge experience, Sandeep has a charming ritual called “the cup that cheers’.

It involves a lecture/demo on the various exotic teas he has. Jewel-toned tea decoctions gleam in their glass carafes, in claret, burgundy and topaz hues.

And, Sandeep explains the origin, the bouquet and the method of brewing each tea. Reading your mind he says, “Yes there are almost as many varieties of teas as there are wines,” and tea-tasting is as fulfilling, he smiles.

It is not just tea that Sandeep brews. He and his team run the Nilgiri Leisure Holidays. “There are some people who want to come to the hills and work with NGOs, or there are those who want to do a photographic tour of the hills, or go trekking and so on. We arrange all that for them. Of course, we also offer the regular, sight-seeing runs, along with interaction with the local artists, visits to tea factories and so on,” he says.

Responsibile tourism

Whatever it is, the underlying philosophy that drives everything Sandeep does is what he calls “Responsible Tourism”. Explaining the concept he says the idea is to keep the Nilgiris clean and unspoilt.

“Enjoy the beauty of the hills, but responsibly. Don’t litter. Recycle, reuse and pick up after you is the mantra,” he says. In fact, with this in mind, Sandeep and a few others like him have thought up the One Nilgiri Foundation.

Various plans are afoot to devise simple and workable solutions to the problem of waste collection, segregation and disposal. Apart from providing dustbins, the idea is to rope in school children to help keep the surroundings clean.

One Nilgiri Foundation is also planning to green parts of hill towns that have lost almost all green cover. “It is just a question of planting a handful of trees here and there amongst all the construction.,” he says.

Visit Explorenilgiris.com, a blog on the Nilgiris and www.tranquilitea.in

Tranquilitea is also at Lake View Farms, Airport-Varthur Road, Siddhapura, Bangalore. Call 9880200452.

PANKAJA SRINIVASAN

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