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Interview with Tea Studio Manager Muskan Khanna – Creator of Green Mist

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Interview with Tea Studio Manager Muskan Khanna – Creator of Green Mist

Nestled on the lush terraced hillside of a sleepy Nilgiri community lies Tea Studio. This glass structure with soaring ceilings and red trim is the only modern feature on these age-old terraces. This state of the art tea processing and educational facility was the longtime dream of Indi Khanna - who has been producing fine Indian teas for decades.

Tea studio factory overlooking rows of tea bushes - young mountain tea

While Tea Studio was being conceptualized, Indi asked his daughter Muskan to leave her work in the city to join the team as Operations Manager. She debated, and then made it clear to her father that she would be interested only if she was able to explore incorporating traditional Chinese methods into their production. Under Muskan’s leadership, the factory is producing one of a kind Chinese inspired teas with distinct Indian tastes. Tea Studio is also an educational space designed to host groups and teach professionals how to make fine whole leaf teas. The factory is currently run and operated exclusively by a team of women – rare for the tea industry.

We visited Tea Studio on the India Tea Tour and had Muskan helped us get our hands in the tea leaves. We reached her by email to ask her a few questions about her work at Tea Studio.

What is Tea Studio to you? 

Tea studio to me is my calling! It’s my home away from home, it's my happy place.

Muskan Khanna at the other end of the firing machinery at tea studio

When did you know you wanted to get into tea? 

To be honest… I didn’t. From studying Media Studies at the University of Birmingham, to working in advertising, I ended up working with Indi (my father) who has been in tea all his life. And before I knew it, I started enjoying the world of tea more and more.

What was it like to grow up with your father working in the tea industry?  Did that feel special, unusual, or just normal? 

Son and daughter, Indi and Muskan Khanna, tea studio, india teas, young mountain teaTo me, it felt normal. That’s the only profession I’ve ever seen him at. Of course, now that I’m in the same business as him it feels special. He’s such a well-respected person in the tea world and there is so much I learn from him EVERY day.

What is your daily routine like at Tea Studio?  Can you walk us through a typical day? 

I get to the Studio by 9:00am, check my emails, do the accounts from the previous day, and then head down to the factory floor where we start manufacturing. From handling the fresh leaf, to making the teas, to hand sorting the made tea and even sweeping the dust off the floor, I do it all. Once we finish manufacturing, I usually go back to my office to check for any new emails or client leads and head home at about 6:00pm. Since it’s a totally woman run operation we do not like to work past 6:00pm.

Your female colleagues - did they have experience in tea when they began working with you, or did you train them on the job?  What interested them about working at Tea Studio?

They had no prior experience working in a factory, they all were leaf pluckers from around the area. They have all been trained on the job. When I asked them what they liked about it they say it’s because of the environment. “The 'bosses' are so kind, they make us feel important at every stage. It is so nice working in a factory which is only managed by women, we can be free and be ourselves. The best part is we feel at home here, we don’t want to go back home. If working on Sundays was an option, we would do that too!”

Tea Studio all woman production team rocking the show and making incredible tea

What excited you most about Tea Studio? 

Everything! That’s like asking someone “what do you love most about your child?” I’m excited about the teas we make, the positive feedback we get, my hardworking team of girls… all of it.

What are you most looking forward to? 

I’m looking forward to someday becoming a known face in the industry, and for Tea Studio to be right there on the map.

Muskan Khanna, Tea Studio, women in business, young mountain tea

How does it feel to be a young woman in the Indian tea industry? Has anything surprised you? 

It feels a bit unusual. The tea industry, in India especially, is still a very male dominated place. It did take a while for people to take me seriously. However, I’ve seen that change gradually, where people actually respect what I do. Though every now and then I do get a “you manage a tea factory?” – implying it’s clearly a man’s job. 

What is your favorite tea and why? 

Oh this is tough, but if I really had to choose, I’d say the Nilgiri bamboo (Green Mist). This is a tea I invented myself. I was trying to think of ways to not waste the stalk. I tried different methods, and eventually came up with the bamboo. We're in the process of getting a patent on it too. 

Comments on this post (29)

  • Jan 25, 2020

    Congratulations Muskan!! It’s really nice to know that you are following your dad’s steps. I know you as a little school going girl, when you visits your dad’s office in Jebel Ali “Excel International”, where I was working as Mr. Khanna’s assistant.
    Good Luck dear. Long way to go!!

    — Naseem

  • Jun 13, 2019

    It’s very much encouraging. Would like to meet you personally or at least prefer to have a word with.

    — S H Rahman

  • Nov 13, 2018

    I had the privilege to visit Tea Studio a few months ago together with my wife. It was a great learning experience. Great going Mr. Indi Khanna, Mr. Jibin Samuel and MS Muskan.
    Hope to remain in touch.

    — sajjan bagaria

  • Sep 11, 2018

    Congratulations I Khanna Family and Muskan
    Rohini Darjeeling

    — shiV k saria

  • Sep 11, 2018

    It is such a wonderful news. I congratulate the young entrepreneur Muskan Khanna and her team in their venture of Tea Studio and wish them big success . Having spent thirty seven years in Assam tea plantation Tea is synonymous to life for me and my husband Rajan mehra ( 1967 – 2010) He has been tea manufacturing adviser and tea taster for Assam company. Passion and hard work two chief ingredients and you seem to have inbibed both from your father. congrats to him too.
    Keep it up

    — Shalini Mehra

  • Sep 10, 2018

    Congrats,Muskan,Indi and the entire team.Wishing you lots of luck n success,always.

    — Nimish

  • Sep 10, 2018

    Congrats! Taking up a responsibility & debeloping suttle passion towards tea, is amazing and that too developing a new flavor!

    — Venkatesan

  • Sep 10, 2018

    I was delighted to know that you had joined Indi in this unique Tea Project, all his dreams have come true!!
    “With an estimated 3.5 billion cups of tea consumed in a single day through out the world,this beverage has emerged as a global icon around which relationships revolve. Discussions are held, views are freely aired, social contacts developed, matrimonial alliances are confirmed, guests are received, long lost friendships are renewed, commercial deals are clinched. All this over a cup of tea.” This apt description could only be given by your father.
    What more recognition do you need, as you have already, invented a tea – Nilgiri bamboo (Green Mist). Does Indi describe the tea thus? -“To take a sip of fresh (Green Mist) is like paying a silent tribute to the senses. The amber golden translucence fills the eyes, the fragrance brings back memories, the exquisite flavour unfurls before you the mists of the mountains and the smell of spring showers”
    Muskan, I have taken this opportunity to show case Indi – as he is a humble man who never talks about his knowledge of tea, he is a world authority on Black Tea. I say this as I worked for him and his advise to me on Chinese tea machinery was invaluable.
    Looking at the factory, I am sure the structure is made to face the morning sun, and the soaring ceiling allows the circulation of fresh air – the first of its kind.
    All the very best to you both.

    — Ronnie Asirwatham

  • Sep 10, 2018

    Wow! How wonderful to see innovations and fresh faces in tea… Talking about faces, Muskan looks a younger version of Aunty!

    — prabhdev singh

  • Sep 10, 2018

    When the beginning is so hit can imagine the goal……congrats to muskan and her team…..

    — Praveen Mittal

  • Sep 10, 2018

    Congrats Muskan & team.Have been there, very inspiring.Job well done.All the Best, hope u be a role model to the tea industry .

    — Rajesh Chander B

  • Sep 10, 2018

    Tea Studio, an exemplary initiative, sets the tone for the future,which is bound to bring ‘Muskan’ (smile) on the faces of small Tea growers aspiring to make ‘Small is beautiful’…

    — Sunil Goyal

  • Sep 10, 2018

    Very glad to read about the Tea Studio .. the venture by Muskan. An all women tea manufacturing unit is novice in India, may be in the world too. I am sure your passion will lead to greater heights and your dream to be know around the world will happen. Good wishes to you and team. Good Luck and God Bless

    — K M Angeloa

  • Sep 10, 2018

    Bravo Muskan. Best wishes and here’s looking forward to more creations.

    — V.R.Srikanth

  • Sep 09, 2018

    well done Indi & Muskan. one day will visit you people.

    — Amar Pal shaw

  • Sep 03, 2018

    Well done Muskan. What a beautiful and brilliant achievement . You already are a well know tea name on the Tea Map of the aficionados.

    — Robin Nakai

  • Sep 03, 2018

    Great work Muskan wish you and your team all the best

    — Asha wazir

  • Sep 03, 2018

    Muskan truly inspired by what you are doing and that too in a male dominated “zone”.
    That’s the way to go I am sure both Indi n Kitty are proud of you. So are we .

    — Rajnish Joshi

  • Sep 03, 2018

    Kudos to you Muskan. Great job gone. You must be a huge inspiration to your team. God bless for many more achievements.

    — Harry Ahluwalia

  • Sep 03, 2018

    Great read guys! Very inspiring stuff and stoked to be working with you.

    — Alan Hughes

  • Sep 02, 2018

    well done Muskan!!

    — Gayatri Sahay

  • Sep 01, 2018

    good show, keep it up

    — Rajesh Jain

  • Sep 01, 2018

    Lovely! Congrats Muskan!

    — Anil Advani

  • Sep 01, 2018

    Awesome! Congratulations

    — Amuleek Singh

  • Sep 01, 2018

    Very interesting.

    Chinese inspired teas with distinct Indian tastes.

    That sounds really good!

    — Léon

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