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How it all Started

The seeds were planted in Swamy’s basement by him and his mom.  The seedlings sprouted in March of 2023 and currently slated to go into large commercial greenhouses in a few weeks.  Tea processing will begin from US grown tea in 3 years’ time. Around December a subsidiary of the US company was registered in Ireland.

Currently, Junga Chai is importing tea from the Darjeeling area in India and retailing them in US and Ireland.  

In April of 2023 Swamy was invited by the local women’s garden club to give a presentation on Tea and Rice.  We believe Junga Chai is the first tea and rice grower in Rockbridge County.  We believe we are the 2nd tea grower in the state of Virginia and probably the only rice grower.  There is one Rice Wine brewery in Virginia so hoping to be second Sake brewery in Virginia and probably the only brewery in US to both grow their own rice and brew it.

In his own words

About the Founder

I was born in India in 1971 and migrated to the US in 1991 and currently a US citizen with an OCI (lifelong Indian Visa). 

 In 1979 my cousins visited us from the USA, and we all went to Darjeeling.  This was my first real vacation anywhere as my parents were middle class and we could not really afford vacations. 

I fell in love with mountains and the beauty of tea gardens.  This was also where I learned about Tenzing Norgay and as a kid I wanted to follow in his footsteps and aspired to be a Sherpa.

After working several years in the software industry, I quit my job to go climbing and spent two months in South America and made it to the top of Mt. Aconcagua without guides.  I then came back to Alaska and climbed Mt. Denali/ McKinley (again without guides).  However, I realized that although I love mountains, I was not physically in shape to be a sherpa. I did still want to be involved with mountains but not at that scale. 

I also wanted to grow tea and other crops.  So, I went back to working in the software industry till I had paid back my loans and built some savings and bought a 140 acre hillside in Virginia which was being used for hunting previously.  The altitude on this property ranges from 1200ft to 2000 ft. Although a lot lower than Darjeeling the temperature is quite comparable due to the northern latitude.


  • It has a lot of timber, mostly oak trees, some pine and some Juniper.  Interestingly people also make tea with Pine needles and Juniper.  Charred Oak is used to make Whiskey and interestingly there is a tea in China (Lapsang Souchong) which is smoked in usually Pine and maybe Oak fires and does smell quite like Whiskey.  This tea tastes quite good with a bit of whiskey added in. 

    Anyways, it seems I might have found something I could work on in my retirement, namely cutting down some of the pine and oak trees and planting tea in place and using the wood to smoke the tea. 

    I am now fully invested in learning more about tea and the different flavors and the blends.  I am looking for complementary and/or interesting teas I can import and sell online along with my own smoked tea.  I would love to develop a relationship with veteran tea growers, learn from their experience and import teas to sell in the USA. 

  •  With the goal of importing tea and selling it in the US I came back to Darjeeling in March 2022 after a gap of 43 years. I met with Mr. Rajiv Lochan of http://www.lochantea.com and formed my first relationship with a tea grower in Darjeeling and worked out my first import order with him.   

    I am also looking for other relationships to help build the business.  I was lucky enough to find a partner in Mr. Yogesh Chavan who is a former co-worker at my software job. 

    I started the company Junga Chai so I can grow, manufacture and sell tea, tea products and other crop. Junga is short for Kanchenjunga which is the only 8000m peak that is partly in India and in a way is a tribute to Tenzing Norgay and my former aspirations of being a Sherpa.