In this day and age of hype and bombast, you can count on the fingers of one hand the people in the food and beverage industry who know their onions. Anamika Singh, tiny pint-sized girl with the 360 degree smile is one of the foremost tea experts in Delhi. Not only is she the only woman in the field of tea, she represents her family’s tea estate, Anandini Himalaya Tea, in Manjhee, Dharamshala. It helps to have a woman’s eye in a man’s world, because the tiny tea room in Delhi’s Shahpur Jat is a labour of love as only a woman could do. One side is a store selling teas from the Manjhee Estate and further afield – single estate leaf from tea gardens of Darjeeling and Assam, Japan, China and Taiwan. There’s one rider: every label in the Anandini Tea Room has to have a certain quality.
Anamika has nothing but scorn for the tea that comes from auctions. “It is akin to buying vegetables from the wholesale market vis-a-vis growing them in your own garden” she educates me. But it is the brewing of a cup of tea that is an art so precise that it borders on the maniacal. And that is what you’ll get in Anandini Tea Room, whether you go there to escape from the world, or to try out a couple of varieties of tea. Or even because a friend has gifted you an hour’s tea appreciation with Anamika who can teach even a coffee drinker like me about the nuances of flowery golden orange pekoe versus rolled leaf.
The tea room is not the end of the story: it is just the beginning. Whether you want her to take you for a spin of the country’s best tea estates or provide recipes for tea-based cocktails, Anamika’s your man.