Time to tea off!

Time to tea off!

Brewing lounges

Time to tea off!

Commonly available as a concoction of milk, sugar and crushed dried leaves at every roadside kiosk, tea is today available in varied variants — from iced and green to cranberry and lavender. Over the years ‘chai’ has undergone a makeover — both in terms of taste and consumption.

      However, due to the lack of organised setups, it could not get its due share as compared to coffee. But now, with the mushrooming of various tea lounges and cafes across the country, tea is not only overtaking its counterpart, but has also emerged as the country’s largest consumed beverage.

“Every household in India is a big fan of tea. One of the essentials every guest is offered at our homes is tea. Even if you compare coffee drinkers versus tea drinkers, the ratio would be around 1:30. In a way, tea has been the beverage of the nation. However, a lack of organised tea retailing chains has prevented it from achieving the status that coffee chains have managed. This is fast changing as many players are entering the arena as they see potential for growth,” says Parag Desai, director of a tea group.

He adds that another reason is the fact that today’s Indian is well travelled, is aware of the numerous ways in which tea is served across the globe, and wants the same experience on coming back. “Apart from this, the youth is always on the lookout for something new and exciting. Tea, in its various forms, presents them with an opportunity to try something refreshingly new,” he says.

Amuleek Singh, founder, Chai Point, says that tea lounges are a result of “mix of things”. “One, chaiwallas have slowly vanished from large and expensive cities —  all the resources needed for making chai are so expensive and difficult to get — starting with water. Two, people love this beverage and cannot live without it. Mix one and two — you have a solid need gap being addressed by tea cafes.”

Adding that the beverage is a part of life for millions in India, he says, “People love this beverage so much that they would have it without bothering too much about hygiene and consistency. Its availability mattered (does matter) to hundreds of millions of people here.”Chai Point (which has about 90 hubs across India) serves the beverage in
various flavours like apple, cranberry and ginger lemon apart from Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri chai.

But are people willing to experiment with such flavours, considering tea is something widely associated with a single taste?

“There are very few who have associated their palate to single flavour. Many in the country look for masala or jasmine, or mint or tulsi in their tea. For them, the option to sip, taste, buy teas such as ours which brings tea leaves from the source (the tea
estate), and infuses it with newer and wider range of ingredients like rooibos, pomegranate flowers, lavender flowers and pineapple pieces, itself gives a choice and the ability to sip from a wider collection; and they love it,” says Anamika Singh,
director of tea production house.