Chai or Tea in India works as the building blocks of life. It acts as a booster for people to get them back to work. People in India have grown up drinking adrak, tulsi and masala chais in its original form. Apart from being our beverage of choice, its therapeutic in nature too. It has ruled the country for ages, despite the growing trend of coffee drinking in the country.
Origin of Tea
History of tea dates back to 750 BC and it has grown over the years with change in taste and colour. It is generally grown in the North Eastern regions and Nilgiri Hills. Since those early days, tea drinking in India has now come a long way. Today, the nation is proud to be one of the largest tea producers in the world.
Not only this, Indians have used tea for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years. But as time evolved, we have seen different concepts and flavours of tea emerging in the country.
Customisation of tea started in early 2000s with restaurants and cafe chains providing options to brew different flavours of tea from their outlets. With growing acceptability of a large number of cuisines and emergence of tea as a party beverage, we have seen a lot of new concepts and formats coming in.
Companies like Chaayos, Wagh Bakri Lounges by Wagh Bakri Tea Group and Chai Point are few cafes serving over a thousand varieties of tea with different flavours and taste. Chaayos, started by a bunch of IITians has entered in the tea segment in 2013 providing customer to make their ‘meri wali chai’ with a choice of over 4,000 combinations.
“Tea is a very versatile beverage. It is possible to infuse various fruits, herbs and other flavours with tea. Being calorie free, low on caffeine and packed with antioxidants, tea presents a much healthier option than coffee. A modern Indian, who is well read and well travelled is accepting tea as their natural choice,” says, Raghav Verma, Co-Founder, Chaayos.
How are tea cafes placing themselves?
When it comes to a good place to have chai outside your home, there are a very few options available. And the cafes serving believed that there is a real need for good chai. To cater to the Indian market, tea cafes have brought the unique concept of letting the customer choose their own choice of tea. Not only this, these chai majors have even started targeting the young generation, who generally prefer coffee over a tea, by offering them customized tea like kali mirch chai, chai mocktails, etc.
“Our customer base starts from the age of 18 and goes on till 55. People step into our cafe for a variety of reasons. A lot of patrons unwind at our cafes and others come here to hang out, conduct business meetings or have brunch with their family,” shares, Arun Roy, Regional Manager, Northern Region, Chai Point.
These cafes have also come up with a good mix of interesting online and offline initiatives. Most of their marketing operations focus on on-the-ground initiatives like cross promotions, live acts, outdoor signage and sampling in nearby areas.
“We have also associated ourselves with several causes. For example, we ran a campaign during the elections where we provided exclusive discounts to people coming in with a voting mark,” Verma adds.
Therefore, looking at these emerging trends in the Indian tea market, we can say that there are many players coming up in this segment with innovative formats and products to serve customers matching their personal beverage choice.