ABURY meets Tea Expert Manu Kumar

Posted on 13 November 2016

Manu Kumar
© Photo by Felix Bröde

Manu Kumar has travelled through hidden tea rooms, vibrant night-markets, highland plantations and nomadic tents to discover "real" tea. Traditional recipes are passed from generation to generation preserving culture in each spice. He returned home to find nothing like this, and so he has brought the real tea home; to share ancient flavours to the new world.

Start by tagging yourself with three words.

Dreamer. Observer. Doer.


We believe that “hands tell stories“. What do your hands tell about you?

My hands are pretty slim and airy like you expect hands in a family of doctors. On the other hand (I love that idiom) my hands also tell stories from a life as an artist. They tell from working in the fields, cold weather, but also from a lot of sun, from car accidents and dog bites…
All my life it is most important to me to work with my hands: To create starts with a vision; then the vision transforms into an idea and gets shaped by the mind. But it is the hand that gives live to it. The hands make ideas become alive.
Manu is my real name – a very Indian name. But I am also half European and Latin is the mother/source of European languages: in Latin Manu means "through the hand" or "from the hand" (Ablative Singular from Manus)!

I am 100% sure that it is no coincidence!!!

What is the last thing you created with your hands?

A wonderful fresh fruit salad this morning!
The last thing I’ve created for ManuTeeFaktur: just mixed a new-traditional tea recipe: Oriental Apple Tea.

If you could choose, what would you like to be able to do with your hands?

Actually I am pretty lucky with my hands and I think I could have done everything I wanted to do with my hands. It is not hands that limit me.
E.g. I guess with a life-long hard training my hands could play a piano very well, but my musicianship would never allow me that ...

Looking back on everything you’ve done in your life - What is the one thing you are proudest of?

I do not use the term „proud“ – it is limiting. I prefer to use "I am happy about this or that“ because all I achieved is not just because of my hands, or myself … it is also because of my family, my partner, my friends, who supported me all my live. Also my education, my heritage, my freedom …

“One of a mind” underlines our strong belief in equality and the value of sharing. How does intercultural exchange benefit our global society in your eyes?

Without communication there is no understanding, no learning, no development, no enhancement ... NO EVOLUTION.


What is your connection to India?

My father is Indian – even though I grew up in Europe (in a Christian boarding school - a monastery) I have many Indian aspects inside of me. When I was a very little kid I was asked what I was - German or Indian - I always answered: I AM HALF INDIAN AND ALL GERMAN.

Children and fools speak the truth. I can not describe myself better than that!

What does India have that no other culture has?

To deal with the unexpected, to combine curiosities in a beautiful way. Indians are the masters of improvisation: in daily live, in culture, in existence …

Manu Kumar in front of his office
© Photo by Marco Baass


Talking about other senses - how would you describe the “Tastes of India” and what is your favourite?

For me there is no favourite taste of India existing. IT IS THE INTENSITY THAT IS UNIQUE IN INDIA ! That counts for everything: beauty and ugliness, openness and understanding, infatuation and prejudice, generosity and greed … but also for tastes! The colours are unbelievable vivid, the light is brighter, so are the noise … and of corse the smell: from wonderful aromas to the most disgusting smells… The taste of India is its intensity!

At ManuTeeFaktur it is all about tea; “real tea” to say it in your words. What is “real tea” in addition to a hot beverage?

For me "real" means to root out "old“ recipes. To collect and grow the best ingredients. To follow the tradition but also bring them on the level of today!

We are delighted to add your Indian teas to our selection. What makes these particular teas unique in your opinion and why?

The Indian Masala Chai is certainly the best you can get in Europe because I produce them every week fresh! Once a month the packages with fresh ingredients arrive at ManuTeeFaktur. Then I roast, grind, mortar and mix … and so they are in your shelves!

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