1-Mission: To deliver superior tea products leveraging our Creativity and Innovation for an enhanced mouthfullness experience and holistic wellbeing.
The Kamelia Story
A Legacy Inherited – Creativity par excellence
Perched high up in the hills of Darjeeling is a small Tea Estate located at 4200-4600 ft. named Soureni Tea Estate. Located in the picturesque Mirik Valley in the Darjeeling Hills of North East India stands one of the most beautiful hill – SOURENI TEA GARDEN. Started by the TIWARI FAMILY way back in 1902, it is, to-date, the only natively planted tea garden in the Darjeeling Hills!
The tea industry in Darjeeling was set up by the British, when the country was under Imperial Rule, sometime towards the latter half of the 19th century. The British had chosen the enchantingly beautiful Darjeeling Hills as one of their sites for setting up an Army Cantonment because of its strategic location, bordering 3 countries Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim. A Colonel in the British Army (name unknown) was assigned the responsibility of selecting the site and undertaking the work. He selected the area around a famous, very old temple locally called “Mahakaal Baba’s Temple” situated on a hilltop in the heart of Darjeeling town. As the temple attracted lot of devotees from neighboring Nepal and from the nearby villages in India, he foresaw the advantage of getting easy laborers for this purpose.
The responsibility of arranging labor and cleaning the forest to set up the Army Base was assigned to a local Nepali contractor. Once the job of land clearing was accomplished, the Colonel was very happy with the work and, in return, gifted the Nepali contractor a large chunk of land in the hills across Mirik valley. Soon afterwards the contractor died and this chunk of land was inherited by his son, Mr. Bhawanjeet Rai. It is a matter of interest that Rai had 16 wives!
Meanwhile, in a remote village (Sagoobadi) in Rajasthan – North West India, lived a young aspiring man Mr. Ramlal Tiwari. In the year 1870 Ramlal and his brother Jalooram, set out towards Darjeeling in search of greener pastures. It took them several months traversing this long distance of 1000 miles on foot, by steamer boats, shuttle trains and bullock carts to finally reach their destination, literally where they were destined to be. They set up a departmental store in Kurseong, a small town 20 miles from Darjeeling, by the name of Jalooram and Company. Rai started frequenting this store and used to make all his credit purchases for various provisions from there. Over a period of time, Rai’s credit piled up to quite a sizable amount which he could not pay. He fell ill and finally died. But before his death he transferred about 1100 acres of land in Mirik Valley, to Mr. Ramlal Tiwari in exchange of his outstanding credit.
To put this huge chunk of land to use, Ramlal followed suit to what the other British Companies were doing in the area – essentially, planting Tea. And thus Soureni was born in 1902. Soureni comes from the word “Soar” which is a type of pine tree which grew in abundance in that area. After the death of Ramlal, the property was managed by his brother Jalooram. Thereafter the property was handed down generation after generation for almost 100 years until the time the Tiwari Family finally sold it off in 1990.
After India’s Independence in 1947, the majority of the land was acquired by the Government of India under the Land Ceiling Act. The current area left with the garden is about 300 acres. The Tiwari family is known to have an indelible mark in the history of the Indian Tea Industry. Some interesting points:
No non vegetarian food ever cooked in the Tiwari household, despite a very strong British influence in the area.
Men folk in Tiwari family were addressed as “Maharaj” by the workers and local public unlike “Sir” or “Sahib” as was the British culture. “Maharaj” in Hindi means “Your Lordship”
When scarce, drinking water to all the laborers was provided from the private drinking water tank of the “Maharaj’s family”
Several acres of tea was planted by the Tiwari family, working hand in hand with the workers in the field. The entire garden staff members were treated as a part of one big family.
A single family to have given the country about 50 tea planters, each a veteran in their field. The family that gave the country One of the only 2 female auctioneers, buyer, taster, & blender – Mridul Tiwari. Mridul is actively involved in tea business and determined to take ahead the dream of her forefathers had once conceived 100 years ago!
The ashes of many departed souls of Tiwari family are still hugging the soil of Soureni!
Ms Mridul Tiwari has not only been a connoisseur of teas but also a master blender in the way she masterfully creates delectable blends of herbal teas. Her concoctions have been widely revered and have made their way to the topmost hotels and resorts throughout India. The teas presentations are extremely elegant as is evident in her choice of teabags/pods and packaging in sachets. The entrepreneur in Mridul got a flare as she moved forward & discovered what more could be done with this class beverage in health sector. She met Prof. Sudhi – a Chemistry & Ayurveda wizard, also the founder & guide for the Fortified Teas line of Kamelia.
A new journey began ….
Inspiration from the Ancient Past
Fortifications are the culmination of Prof Sudhi’s dream of solving the modern day health problems using centuries’ old Ayurvedic wisdom. As a child, Prof. Sudhi would accompany his grandfather to the nearby jungles of his village in India. His Grandpa, an eminent Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor), would carefully select the medicinal herbs that grew in the fertile Terai - the foothills of the Himalayas. His grandma would then lovingly grind those natural herbs together in various combinations. These concoctions helped ease the villagers’ ailments.
Innovation at its very best!
Prof. Sudhi fascination with these herbs led him to study the chemical composition, biochemical interactions and the health benefits of these herbs in great detail. He observed that specific combinations of synergistic herbs act by complementary mechanism and are much more effective than individual herbs.
His prolonged interactions with Dr. Jane Higden (Linus Pauling Institute of Micronutrients, Portland, Oregon) inspired him to study the interactions of herbs in conjunction with teas. And, later his involvement with Michael Spillane (owner G.S. Haly Teas & founding member of Specialty Tea Institute) and his team of tea experts led to a series of experiments over a period of 2 years. This exercise helped Sudhi come up with just the right combination of herbs that worked well with teas – enhancing the properties, goodness as well as the taste of the tea. The efforts of Michael Spillane and his team were instrumental in enhancing the mouthfullness experience of the fortified teas.
So, go ahead and raise a toast to your good health!