What do Salman Khan, startups and your grandmother have in common? A love for tea


Salman Khan gyrating his well-muscled torso in ode, not to a sweetheart but, to a ‘Garam chai ki pyaali’ (a steaming cup of tea) in a Bollywood flick is testament to the beloved beverage’s cherished status among all ranks of society. The latest, but by no means the least, to join the fan club are startups who are realizing that good tea is offers more than the soul’s nourishment in every sip. It offers a damn good business opportunity.

Tea is an integral part of Indian lives. Always has been. Every household will have its own special brew. From milky ones to those embellished with ginger and cardamom, to the black and green ones-tea is a unique and yet an ‘oh so common’, personal part of our lives.

Don't you agree that tea is an experience that brings us all together? Be it as a conversation starter or as a trademark of our Indian hospitality. Standing on the roadside, in a train or maybe in a plane, drinking a cup of tea is the most natural, expected thing for us to do. As you lose yourself in the next sip, inhale and realise how it makes you feel. There are invaluable stories, memories and possibilities intertwined with each cup that you’ve consumed and will continue to consume.

Why am I waxing on about tea? Because, one day while sipping my cup of tea, I realised how innovation stems from the most basic of our habits and needs. We were always drinking tea; our parents were drinking it, and so were our grandparents. What has happened now? 100’s of businesses have sprung around our very basic, but age old, need to have tea. It reminded me in some way of Airbnb; people were always hosting guests, friend’s friend who had come to the city. It was part of our Indian hospitality (Remember the times when your mother called and said so and so Aunty's daughter is coming to your city, why don't you host her for a few days?) And from that same basic, regular part of our life and living emerged one of the most valued businesses of our time-Airbnb.

While we are scouting for the next billion dollar idea, maybe the starting point should begin by being mindful of our lives, habits and basic needs. It’s when we realize that what we’re looking for has been right in front of us the whole time.

Here is the list of companies that have come up in the recent times that offer tea with a twist: the same old tea packaged and embellished differently. From being a basic part of our lives, today tea drinking is touted as an experience. An experience for which people are ready to cough up all kinds of money. I myself coughed up an exorbitant amount to Teabox to purchase 100 gms of black tea for some Rs.600 or so with a promise from them that, the tea was "full-bodied and strong. This tea is perfect to accompany a light breakfast. The finish is long, intense and firm."

So here savour the list of new age brands, run by hot entrepreneurs, brewing their way into our lives and pockets. If I have missed mentioning you in the list below, please point it out.

Chai Point :

Brewing a brand from tea – the Chai Point story - Read More

Teabox :

How I got Accel Partners to invest in my startup – The Teabox Story - Read More

Chaayos :

Experimenting with chai to build an INR 100 crore+ business: the Chaayos story - Read More

Zepo :

How Zepo is helping get Bombay’s cutting chai online via ChotuChaiWala - Read More

Teasage :

Akash Takwani started up Teasage because he had to ‘just freaking do it’ - Read More

Chai Thela :

“25 days before my marriage, my first startup shut down” – Pankaj Judge, cofounder, Chai Thela - Read More

Chaipatty :

Chaipatty Teafe: A Lot ‘More’ Can Happen Over Chai - Read More

Mohani Tea :

Mohani Tea shows how to crack distribution network in remote areas - Read More

Bonhomia :

Premium Indian origin tea and coffee brand ‘Bonhomia’ raises $2 million from Kanwaljit Singh and others - Read More

Laplanttea :

Can’t Do Without Your Cup of Tea? Now Try Green Tea & Other Blends From Startup LaPlant - Read More

SuiGeneris :

The Manipuri Entrepreneur who has changed the tea drinking habit of the region and created 2000+ jobs - Read More

 The Moto Café :

Nikhil Sood, Founder, The Moto Café , Bike theme coffee joint - Read More

Aromas of Coorg :

Bangalore Based Startup – Aromas of Coorg, Brewing Business with Coffee - Read More


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