NRI ‘Chai Walli’ making waves in Australia

Uppma Virdi has been identified with the epithet ' Chai Walli" and taking steps for popularising tea in Australia.

The whole world was taken aback when a ‘Chaiwala’ was catapulted to the highest seat of Indian democracy as Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India. Now, an NRI ‘ Chai Walli’ is making waves in Australia as she is popularising Indian Chai in the country and she has also bestowed with  the honour of Business Woman of the Year at the recently concluded 2016 Indian Australian Business and Community Awards (IABCA) awards in Sydney.

Meet 26 year old legal professional Uppma Virdi who is credited with tea brewing skills. Her liking for tea took the shape of business aptly christened ‘Chai Walli’. She has a dedicated online store for retail purchase worldwide along with a wholesale division, which supplies the Indian tea blend to gourmet supermarkets, food stores, cafes, restaurants and yoga centres.

Her business has grown exponentially — through word-of-mouth by friends and family, social media campaigns and hard work.

Uppma Virdi regularly organises 'Tea Workshop' in Australia in which she details about the art of making tea.

She inherited her passion for tea from her grandfather, an Ayurvedic doctor specialising in herbs and spices. She perfected  the art of making that perfect cup of tea from her grandfather. When she moved to Australia for higher education, she missed having homemade chai, which, in India, is a great social leveller, served to one and all, to celebrate any occasion or alleviate moments of stress, in times of joy and grief.

She is popularising culture of tea in Australia where people are familiar with coffee. She even organises ‘ Tea Workshop’ and train people how to make the perfect cup of tea.

She has not left her job as a lawyer and is no mood to make a complete switch over to her tea business.

Uppma Virdi being crowned Business Woman of the Year Award at the 2016 Indian Australian Business and Community Awards (IABCA) in Sydney. Photo courtesy: sbs.com

She also informs about how her parents were initially opposed to her becoming ‘ Chai walli’ as she is a legal professional.

Her day job is still as a lawyer. She doesn’t say if she is now ready to make the complete switch, but  she chuckles while recalling how her parents were strongly opposed to her becoming a ‘Chai Walli’.

“My parents and family were totally against it. They said I was a lawyer, why did I want to be a tea seller? I said I wanted to show that tea sellers can do something. All the chai walas and chai walis in India are doing something entrepreneurial even if they are not well educated, at least they have a business spirit,” says Uppma Virdi.

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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