Discover the nurturing powers of a hot cuppa with designer, actor, and entrepreneur, Waris Alhuwalia

In an exclusive with Bazaar, he spills the tea on its adaptogenic properties.

Harper's Bazaar India

"My family moved to the United States when I was very young, but my parents didn’t leave tradition behind. It was present in the food, in the remedies, and in everyday life. It was all connected, one and the same... From the herbal concoctions my mother would make me drink when I had a cold to sitting down for homemade dinner together. My late father would have tea ready for my mother when she returned home from teaching. It was an act of love and care. Guests would be served tea upon arrival, a small but meaningful gesture of Indian hospitality. 

My personal discovery of tea would happen much later. It would start in India, of course, with my travels for jewellery production in Jaipur. When I went to meet with the local conservationists and elephant organisations, tea was served. Tea was served, constantly. In fact, the number of tea breaks required in a day would drive me crazy when we were working on a deadline. But it was right in front of me...the answer had always been right there. As I looked back to my childhood, wherever I went, tea was served. After dinner, tea was served. During laughter and celebration, tea was served. During family gatherings or solemn moments, it was always there. It just took me a while to see the connection to my work.

image: houseofwaris/Instagram

Tea was a thread connecting people to people, and to nature; we just did not see it. Tea and herbs have been connecting communities for centuries. In every indigenous culture across the planet, medicinal plants have served a purpose. It was a way to bond and to heal. The brew can do the same for us, today. It can allow us a chance to pause. To slow down. The brew is a tool, not one that is on your phone, but in your cup. It comes from the planet that has the ability to nourish us, if we, in turn, look after the planet. These are ingredients that have served humanity for centuries. This is, by no means, a magic pill but a thoughtful step in the right direction.

Before we were dealing with a pandemic, we were living with what the UN calls the 21st century epidemic: stress. Once, God and science willing, we turn a corner with the virus, we will still be left to contend with our stress. More people suffer from sleep disorders, immunity dysfunction, and digestive disorder than ever before. In America, 70 to 90 percent of doctor visits are due to tension and 110 million people die every year due to it. We are doing this to ourselves. And we are forgetting that we have the answer, we have always had the answer.

image: houseofwaris/Instagram

It was on my own path of healing that I discovered the nurturing powers of teas, herbs, and spices. It is second nature in India to consume them, but you’d be surprised how quickly we all forget them when faced with our desire for shortcuts and need for productivity. This obsession for speedy results has led us down a dangerous path. 

What if we created better habits for ourselves? Allowed ourselves to slow down, to breathe, to dream, even if it is just for 10 minutes in the day. Don’t you think you are worth 10 minutes?

The journey for self-care and wellness can not be separate from the care of our planet, of humanity, and the other species that co-exist on this planet with us. Our blends (House Of Waris Botanicals) are crafted with herbs, known as adaptogens, which are meant to help your body adapt to external stressors and bring you back into balance. We are talking about a preventive lifestyle; what we can do for ourselves while we’re healthy. We work with tea estates, farms, and herbalists to develop proprietary blends that harness the power of plants—ingredients that have been under our noses for centuries.These are organic, non-GMO herbs, that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. And they come from just about everywhere, from Egypt to Oregon. These herbs have been used by traditional practices including Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and many indigenous cultures across the world from the Siberian Plains to the northwest US. I focus on the taste while our team of certified herbalists work on the function. It is important that the blends are not only healing but taste outrageously delicious. It is hard for me to pick a favourite, but I love the dreaminess of the Love Conquers All in the afternoon, while the smokey Sweet Clarity is perfect for my mornings. The Night of Nights
helps slow my day down in the evening.

I am most excited by our next chapter that will bring my worlds even closer together. We will be working directly with tea estates that are certified wildlife-friendly, particularly for elephants. A most natural alignment: where the wellbeing of our bodies is intertwined with the survival of our most precious and endangered wildlife species. Why would you put anything else in your cup?”