Decades Of Tea Tradition
I come from a family of tea planters, and grew up accustomed to the taste of chai, often more cups of orthodox tea than water! Over time, my extended family has owned gardens in Darjeeling, Assam, Dooars and of course, Himachal Pradesh.
Now, I am a fourth generation planter and personally look into the entire manufacturing process. I live in Palampur, and this means that all my time and effort is spent in creating perfect cups of tea for my friends and supporters, instead of directing the process from afar.
Many companies and brands have been built around tea. But I wanted to be able to ensure that our best quality tea goes directly from our estate to your home. Just as it holds for many things, nothing compares to a single-estate tea looked into personally by the owners. I also wanted to begin taking steps towards making Wah Tea a sustainable brand.
A Family Legacy – The “Chaiwalas”
In the early 1900s, my forefather Sheo Parsad owned a simple provisions shop in Dehra Dun from which he also sold tea that he would purchase from Goodrich Tea Estate in Kaulagarh. Tea proved to be a profitable product, and with some hard work, Sheo Parsad and his brother Dharshanlal were able to expand the number of shops.
Sometime in 1917, the Goodrich Tea Estate owner Darbar Sahib was about to lose the estate to the British as collateral against dues. But Sheo Prasad was able to cover the loan on the condition that Goodrich Tea Estate would be leased to them for some years. This proved to be the first step towards generations of tea experience and multiple tea gardens. The family eventually came to be respectfully known as the ‘Chaiwalas’.
This was the first tea garden managed by my family and provided them the opportunity to learn the business of growing and manufacturing tea. The family’s tea empire was built on the money generated from leasing Goodrich. By 1960, the family was producing approximately 10 million kgs of tea from estates across India.
The Wah Factor
Wah Tea Estate was established in 1857 in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh by the British. The estate saw decades of continuous cultivation, and even survived an earthquake which struck the region in 1905. The Wah estate was then taken over by Sir Sikander Hayat-Khan, the son of the Nawab of Wah in Pakistan, who named the estate after his birthplace. The word ‘Wah’ means ‘wow’, and a visit to the estate will hopefully elicit the same reaction!
In 1953, the estate was taken over by my family, known as the Chaiwala family. As the family grew, the plantations were divided amongst the younger generations; however, the renowned ‘Chaiwala’ name continues to bind them together. Wah Tea Estate is now looked after by the third and fourth generation of the family, my father Deepak Prakash and I.
As a young boy, I grew up visiting the tea garden several times a year. With each passing year, I came to appreciate the beauty and charm offered by the vast tracts of unpolluted, tranquil Kangra – a place where the pine-scented air is said to have curative powers. Years of travelling around the world compelled me to start sharing the experience at Wah, and with this, the idea for The Lodge at Wah was born.
To the many, many people who encouraged me to share my story, and my passion for the beverage – Thank You. And to all those who are considering believing in our brand and ideals – Welcome.
Good things are brewing!