Nalin Modha, Unravel Tea taster

Nalin tea

I’d love to introduce you to a friend of mine

A more accurate way to describe Nalin would be my tea mentor.
Meeting by chance through social media way back in 2016, I continue to absorb all the knowledge I can from Nalin.
Regularly throwing any tea questions I have at him, he always takes time to answer carefully and fully.
I will always appreciate his patience with my vast curiosity!

Nalin then kindly sent me a large box of samples from his tea creations, various gardens in Darjeeling and thankfully introducing me to the spectacular Temi tea.
This array of samples not only demonstrated the famous first flushes but enabled me to try various picks from different gardens. This helped educate me about just how much of an impact picking times (and with this weather, seasons and soil) have on the final tea.

Entering the tea world due to his love of nature, Nalin’s own tea journey began in 1976 as a trainee assistant manager in Darjeeling on Nagri tea estate.
His career flourished over the years, there is no substitute for learning through experience, into a Senior manager position in 2005.
You never stop learning when working with tea.

The Indian tea industry has for many years prized quantity over quality, however Nalin saw a shift in this thinking and in 2010 a life as a tea consultant beckoned him.

But what is a tea consultant?

In Nalin’s own words “A Tea consultant is the person who (observes) rectifies small but important mistakes…’ within the tea production process. ‘Then applies their expertise as per the leaf standard of that particular (tea) garden.’

But what even is a leaf standard? Basically, it’s the picked tea leaves, the raw material for tea.
This all sounds very involved, Nalin leans on his vast experience with many tea estates and tea gardens across the globe. He listens, or perhaps uses his senses to pay attention to the leaves and what they tell him.
The soil, the weather conditions and even other nearby plants/trees have such an influence on creating great tea. Not only the weather the tea plants have experienced when growing but after the leaves are plucked have an enormous impact on the final tea leaf, the flavour and tea experience.

Maintaining quality and consistency in his tea creation process is one of the biggest challenges Nalin faces in his work. Every change in the weather requires him to tweak things slightly. This again relies on his years of experience and well-honed senses to make the right call for that exact batch and harvest of tea leaves.

There is no cookie cutter recipe for making the same tea every time. Due to the changing weather and humidity throughout the processing. Each stage must be carefully monitored and tweaked to get the best from the leaves so that their natural flavours shine through in the final cup.

A few questions Nalin kindly answered from you:

How much tea do you drink?

Around a litre a day.

If you could create a tea for anyone in history who would that be?

King of England, Sultan of Brunei, King of Morocco.

If you provide tea to any tea establishments/businesses who would it be?

Of course Harrods, Starbucks, Unravel.

Have to say it would be incredible if huge businesses offered good quality tea, and it was less of an afterthought. Honoured that he included us on the list!

How do you feel about the British adding milk to tea?

If they add milk in purest quality tea, then I feel sorry for them.
Why would they have part with their hard earned money to buy the best and then spoil this by adding milk.

You are welcome to add milk into tea which has burnt taste.
In this tea adding milk can offer you a good aroma. I suggest you to add this type tea in your catalogue so your honourable British customer enjoy their milk tea.

Sorry Nalin, I’m not sure my tastebuds can allow me to offer this type of tea. I think we will stick with the good stuff 😉

If you’d like to explore tea that Nalin has created take a look at this stunning award winning Temi tea.

For more about Nalin Modha, Unravel Tea Taster, check out his website.