Recently, an Indian-origin ‘Chai Walli’ or tea seller, Ms. Uppma Virdi, 26, was hailed as Australia’s 2016 Businesswoman of the Year”.  Her relentless passion for tea was recently celebrated at the Indian Australian Business and Community Awards (IABCA) in a grand Sydney ceremony with her getting Australia’s Businesswoman of the Year award.

This happy-looking business woman is an Indian-Australian lawyer by profession, but more than practicing her career as a lawyer, she is happy with the “Chai”, which is making her reach out to people. She started her tea business 2 years back; and then extended the business with an online store for retail purchase worldwide, wholesaling to local speciality stores and even teaching ‘The Art of Chai’ classes. She runs “The art of Chai” workshops to teach people how to brew the perfect tea.

Uppma’s love for tea goes all the way back to her childhood since her grandfather, a doctor who specialised in herbs and spices, taught her the art of Ayurvedic tea. She’s now built her business around the idea of sharing the fascinating Indian culture of tea with the world.  “My grandfather is an Ayurvedic doctor and he used to make this Ayurvedic tea at his medical dispensary. He taught me the art of Ayurvedic tea”, says the business woman, adding that in the Indian culture people come together through tea.  Uppma said because the tea has a huge significance in the Indian culture, she wants to share it with the people everywhere.  That’s when the business idea was born!

Ms. Virdi special blends have become so well-liked that they’d be sold out back when she was bringing wire racks of full tea cups to offices and selling teas at the market herself. More interest in coffee that tea in Australia was never an impediment for Uppma.  “Interest in tea is growing in Australia as more and more people are seeking alternatives to coffee. It was coincidently the right time for me”, says the business woman.

No wonder, her passion, endurance and commitment for the tea took Indian tea, in all its glory, to Australia and have absolutely nailed it. From successful lawyer to Chai Walli, and now Businesswoman of the Year – Uppma Virdi’s story is an ultimate reverse-Slumdog-Millionaire!

by Ashwani Srivastava

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