tracing the origin of sy’a in the life of our co-founder

tracing the origin of sy’a in the life of our co-founder

sy’a is co-founded by aastha kapoor and siddharth nath.  here aastha speaks about how her relationship with tea has evolved, what it really means to experience tea, how she went from relying on ‘just tea’ to appreciating the rich diversity of flavoured teas and how she hopes she can do the same for everyone with sy’a.

how has your relationship with tea evolved over the years? 

till very recently, tea was nothing but my ‘subah ki chai’ or morning tea in Hindi - a mug full of black tea with less milk and some sugar.  this was something i had to have in the morning, or my day would not begin. 

my husband’s family introduced me to a variety of teas, as it is the family business.  in 2016, i visited their facility in Canada for the first time and that enticed me.  i was intrigued by the 350 types of teas and was bowled over by how much there was to know about it. 

that’s how over the last two years i've become close to teas and started to appreciate the intricacies of the drink.  i've also undergone training as a tea tasting expert. 

like there's wine and cheese, there's more to tea than ‘just tea’ or ‘just chai’ or even just exotic tea leaves.  the mix of hot water and herbs and spices add so much more to drinking it.  i've started to understand the depth this beverage has. 

it's a constant companion no matter what your mood - happy, sad, alone, focused, joyful. and i've started to appreciate it in every form. 

what is it about a well-made cup of tea that is so indulgent as an experience? 

what is an experience?  you're sitting at your workstation in uae - looking at the burj khalifa and dreaming of being as big and grand as the view.  it’s about making more of the moment you are in and expanding the realm of the moment. 

that’s what a well-made cup of tea does for me.  it lets me appreciate the moment more, appreciate the tea itself more, appreciate and recognize the subtle notes and flavours that are packed in a tea. 

for instance, it is only after having turmeric tea that i realised how specific a taste turmeric has. and i grew up in india, where turmeric is an everyday ingredient.  but i wasn’t able to appreciate it this much before, and i think tea has allowed me to do that. 

the same goes for licorice, ginger and other ingredients we think we know very well.  this is what happens when you brew the tea at the right temperature (not always boiling hot).  these nuances and details come out, the taste of the herbs is extracted, it accentuates your senses.  that’s why it’s important to brew each tea at its right temperature. 

and that’s what i hope to bring with sy’a to you and your family.  experience the indulgence of a well-made cup of tea, each of which have been hand picked by us at sy’a.  experience the notes of the herbs, the fruits. understand the intricacies of the flavours.  chai with milk and cinnamon is great. but there is more to tea.  the aroma, the flavour, the taste - they all come together in a surreal way. 

do you have special teas saved for special occasions?

absolutely!  i have special teas for special occasions.  teas really highlight an occasion for me.  if i am hosting friends who understand teas and their flavours well, i would serve them white tea that’s not caffeinated.  i will be candid - it’s expensive, delectable and not for everyone!

i have mint flavours of tea saved for my mocktails.  even when i announced my pregnancy, i called my friends over and was sitting there with my chamomile tea and everyone was confused why i was having this decaffeinated tea on a friday night!  that’s when i announced my pregnancy to them. since then, chamomile has become a very important part of our celebrations 😊

we even mix it with gin to make an amazing cocktail that we all enjoy.  it’s now our standard diwali party drink!

for me, the experience of tea is very sacred, a very pure thing.  if someone understands the flavour profiles, the levels of flushes of tea i am overjoyed to share my own excitement with them.  and i hope with sy’a we can make everyone experience that delicate richness of various teas. 

speaking about sy’a, what is its origin story 

tea has been a family business for 38 years and i have been involved in it over the last two years, bringing it to the middle east.  the best part is that the market we are in appreciates teas for its richness and diversity. 

tea is a part of everyday life.  sheesha and tea in the evenings, tea with dessert after dinner - these are ritualistic to life and culture here. when we extended the family tea business here, we were appreciated for the quality of our teas, the blends and our focus on sustainability across the board - from sourcing to packaging. 

but it was still perceived as ‘just tea’ by people and i really wanted to change that.  in 2022, i went on a maternity break and wondered how i could break the myth that tea is not ‘just tea’ but something more, and how i could get people to give it a chance, to accept this everyday beverage and celebrate its importance in our lives. 

people who make 11 cups of tea a day, absolutely should not think of it as ‘just tea’ right?

happiness, grief, joy, boredom - everything in our life is marked by tea. 

it’s an experience we live and breathe every day.  so we want to give it its due respect and value it for what it really is. 

we are sure that the blends, the products that we at sy’a are planning are all focused on making you experience this feeling.

the cup it is had in, how it is brewed, how it is paired, how each leaf unfurls when you pour water - we want to capture the beauty of each step of experiencing tea.