Healing people, one cup at a time

Oh, you just cannot have the same cup of tea at different times during the day. This is a conversation we are having with Akshi Khandelwal Bhutani – the founder of Butterfly Ayurveda Tea. We are at the World Tea and Coffee Expo in Goregaon, Mumbai. The Butterfly stall, brightly lit and elegantly designed stands out. Why not, we ask. The answer, she says, lies in Ayurveda.

Ayurveda literally translates to “ayur” meaning life and “veda” meaning knowledge.  The pages of Charaka Samhita reveal the key findings of the ancient Indian physicians about this knowledge of life. These lay in discovering the means to restore harmony, to rebuild an ever shifting symmetry between the doshas. A perpetual dance as the body seeks balance. It might have been this resemblance that prompted the Bharatnatyam dancer in Akshi to look for her venture within the folds of Ayurveda.

Akshi was your prototypical high achieving Indian student – finished her Economics honours at Delhi University and followed that up with a coveted Masters from Yale University in International and Development Economics.  A career as a policy analyst beckoned – most of her classmates had headed to policy research groups like the Jameel Poverty Action Lab at the MIT or the Evidence for Policy Design at Harvard or to global funding institutions like the IMF and World Bank. Choosing to apply her learnings to Indian settings, Akshi returned to India to work with local microfinance institutions.  While working with these firms, her heart, she realized lay elsewhere.  She gave up the mundane to explore the mystical. The world of understanding and interpreting body moves replaced the world of interest rates gyrations.

She had been pursuing Bharatnatyam since the age of 10. She now chose to add contemporary dance forms to her repertoire. First up was a one year course at Attakalari, a highly regarded contemporary dance institution in Bangalore and then in 2011, a two year immersion in a Japanese performance art called Subbody Butoh in Dharamshala. She also trained under Shifu Rajesh Kumar in martial arts to buttress her dance education.

It was in Delhi, just after a trip to Dharamshala that Akshi thought of venturing into Ayurvedic teas.  She had developed a very keen interest in Ayurveda while pursuing her dance course. Tea presented her an opportunity to fuse this ancient knowledge with an everyday habit.

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Butterfly Ayurveda took flight in November 2014. Their key creations are blends for a morning, an afternoon and a night cup of tea.  The morning cup is a pick me up chai that blends in lemon grass and black pepper alongwith tea leaves and other herbs – the Suprabhat Chai. Afternoons should see you with a cup of that mixes in fennel seeds and cardamom alongwith other herbs with the tea leaves. The night cup is herbs-only.  With herbs like ashwagandha and shankhpushpi, it aims to relax your nervous system – the Ratri Chai.

As Butterfly Ayurveda metamorphoses Indian taste buds, we would like to wish Akshi an exciting brew ahead. May the healing leaves spread their majestic wings and truly soar.

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