This National Chai Day, meet your favourite chai brands from across India
India is a chai loving nation, and the country gives tough competition to its counterparts when it comes to sipping this hot brewed cup.
As we celebrate National Chai Day, SMBStory gives you a recap of the country’s most loved chai brands.
Karan Shah, Director, Society Tea
One of India’s largest premium tea brands, Society Tea had its roots when Hiralal Shah started trading on Masjid Bunder’s famous tea lane in 1924.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Hiralal’s grandson Karan Shah shares the journey of Society Tea’s evolution and how it came to corner a 40 percent share of the packaged tea market in Maharashtra.
Hiralal’s main aim was to cater to the discerning consumer. In 1933, he started Hasmukhrai & Co with a view to retail tea in Mumbai. The first shop was at Kalbadevi, Mumbai.
By the late 1980s, Hasmukhrai & Co. had become one of the market leaders in the tea industry in Mumbai. Sensing that customer prefers the convenience of packaged tea, the company launched tea in packet form in 1991, which was available across retailers in Mumbai, and later, Maharashtra, by the name of Society Tea.
now has a wide presence across India, including Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Delhi.
Bala Sarda, Founder and CEO, Vahdam Teas
Although Indian teas are in wide demand, Bala Sarda felt that India as a brand is not efficiently placed in foreign markets.
Hailing from a family of tea exporters, Bala grew up in an environment where substantial know-how of the tea industry was inevitable.
In 2015, at the age of 23, Bala founded— a digitally native, vertically integrated global wellness brand — which ships one of India’s finest teas to the world.
The New Delhi-headquartered company sources tea from over 100 tea-growing regions, including Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiris, and Kangra. It also sources superfoods, including turmeric from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh; ginger from Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Kerala; ashwagandha from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan; and moringa from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
Vahdam is now available in 1,000 brick and mortar shops in the US. It is one of the first few Indian brands to list in premium and legacy retail chains in the US, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Bala says Vahdam has more than 1.5 million US customers.
The Tea Shelf
Atulit Chokhani, Founder, The Tea Shelf
Born into a family that has been in the tea business for many generations, the next step seemed like a no-brainer for Atulit Chokhani. However, a thought hit his mind – “What can you possibly add to a 150-year-old business?”
It all changed after a trip to the South African vineyards, and Atulit — a sixth-generation tea planter — couldn’t think of a better opportunity than taking his legacy forward in a different way, and he startedin 2015.
The brand has valuable experience derived from its family legacy in all areas concerning tea, with five tea estates in Upper Assam (Mahadeobari Tea Estate, Ananda-Bag Tea Estate, Dhola Tea Estate, Chokhani Tea Estate and Charali Tea Estate), a tea engineering unit (Bharat Engineering Works) to manufacture tea machinery, a state of the art blending and packaging unit in Kolkata, and bulk tea wholesale and retail division for the domestic and export market.
“If you go to a supermarket to buy some good Indian tea – a Nilgiri white tea, a black orthodox Assam, or a Darjeeling first flush – and it’s not available, that’s where we, The Tea Shelf, want to come in,” says Atulit.
Since its launch, The Tea Shelf has sold more than four million cups, showcasing 109 varieties of exquisite teas, and reaching customers in the US, Netherlands, Guatemala, the UK, Germany, Singapore, and Australia, among others.
Manish and Poonam Jain, Founders of Tearaja | Source: Tearaja
In 2016, Manish Jain incorporated, bootstrapping it with a loan of Rs 10 lakh from his in-laws. He remembers being the first tea seller on Amazon from Kolkata, and says, “Starting with 10 orders a month, we now clock more than 4,000 online orders a month.”
Tearaja started with single estate teas at first and has now ventured into flavoured and ayurvedic varieties as well. The catalogue includes black tea, Darjeeling tea, oolong tea, white tea, green tea, herbal tea, ayurvedic tea, immunity tea, iced tea, and more.
The brand has served more than 10,000 customers so far, and also focuses on corporate gifting.
The company claims to have generated Rs 83 lakh revenue in FY 2018-19, recording Rs 4 lakh profit. In FY20, Tearaja’s revenue stood at Rs 1.2 crore, with Rs 6 lakh profit.