[100 Emerging Women Leaders] After studying design, Anubha Jhawar made her way back home to the tea industry
Anubha Jhawar is a professional tea sommelier and the founder of Celes Te, a luxury brand specialising in artisanal teas.
Despite growing up amid the lush tea gardens of Darjeeling, Anubha Jhawar never expected that she would enter the tea business.
“Sometimes you don’t see what is in front of you. And that urge of graduating, being independent, and earning money does not let you see the opportunities,” she explains.
Anubha went on to study design at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Hyderabad. She worked as an interior designer and soon started a lighting design business with her husband.
It was during the course of managing a business in a completely different vertical that Anubha came across tea businesses.
“Since it’s a part of your DNA, you don’t realise that you know so much about it,” she says.
Anubha felt that certain aspects of the tea industry were not right, and there was a nagging feeling that she could make a real change. To take the legacy forward, she attended a formal training course in London under renowned tea master Jane Pettigrew. When she flew back to India, Anubha opted for a hands-on learning experience under her father. That was when she knew that she had something to contribute to the field.
“The basic challenge was in educating people; so much is said about tea that is not true. In 2010, there was a fad that only green tea is beneficial. People don’t know that green tea and black tea all come from the same plant,” she says.
In India, the market is extremely price-sensitive, so Anubha felt a conversation needed to be started around good quality tea. Her brand, Celes Te, aims at upholding the quality of tea, which is often overlooked.
She worked on setting up her business for two years and made sure that as she was positioning her brand’s offerings as premium products, the packaging reflected that. The consumer would not just be drinking tea but “experiencing the product”.
As a woman founder, Anubha relies on her confidence to promote her brand. She knows her products well courtesy, of her strong research base, and says she has an edge to overcome inherent biases in the business.
Edited by Teja Lele