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CUP OF CHAI

Shweta Ganesh| Posted On: 31-Oct.-2012


This three letter word is known to lift your spirits and refresh your senses. It has flavours and is usually quite a weekly addiction especially with work stress that we constantly grapple with. We’re referring to tea which when brewed ‘correctly’ almost has superpowers!  Radhikaa Batra, of Radhikaas Fine Teas & Whatnots is a tea sommelier, tea etiquette expert, mother, brand builder and more. With India’s first tea boutique which was her brainchild, she has initiated many to the wonders of tea. Her tea leaves are purchased from plantations world over. Today she associates herself with various events, appreciation parties and workshops in order to train and educate people about fine tea drinking. In an exclusive with Radhikaa, she tells Sk about her journey to becoming a recognized face in the F&B industry, her boutique and more…


How has the journey been from a tea lover to a full-fledged entrepreneur?
I started off in 2006 and it’s been a great six year journey for me. I come from a management background and had a great plum job back then. I quit it all in order to follow my own road. Becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t a one-night decision and I’ve invested a lot of time, energy and effort to build all that I have today. I took this initiative of tea brewing from sheer passion and where there is passion, one always finds a need to make it work. Since I loved tea I decided to study the market closely and watch the needs of people. Fortunately, for me everyone has been nothing but kind and so far it has been very good!


Considering that India has a good number of tea takers what are the challenges you face?
It’s true that India does have a considerable number of tea lovers. However, the real challenge is to convince people to spend a ‘little’ to buy the tea of my brand. They want to know why they should pay Rs. 500/- for a packet of tea when the market offers plenty of cheaper varieties. But the reason is that I source my tea leaves from China and other exporters who don’t retail in India. My tea is exclusive and adds to the brand’s USP. For, all along people were ignorant about tea so my duty is to educate them and tell them about the benefits of drinking tea. Dealing with people is always challenging!


What’s the inspiration behind creating India’s first tea boutique?
It was something that stemmed out of true passion and love for drinking tea. I’ve been supported by my mother immensely who always wants me to pursue all that I want. Her words of wisdom helped me start up my brand. My husband, who is also from the marketing background advices and guides me to a great extent too! In fact, a lot of decisions that I take for the company and business I do so after I consult with him. Their motivation constantly drives and inspires me to do better.


What about your brand’s expansion plans?
That’s surely on the cards. I host events and tea appreciations as well in order to tell people how to brew the best tea. This education helps people enjoy their tea better and I often find myself telling them a complete tea story where they experiment with the variety of flavours that tea brings. We include tea as a gifting option as well, which is gradually coming up in India. Also, by way of tea infused cooking the brand is reaching out to people in order to let them see how they can use tea to its best.  We’ve tried Green Tea salad, Oolong tea infused chicken and Rose and Green Tea popsicle. From social media to e-commerce retailing, the brand surely aims to grow and reach out to a wider audience thereby expanding generously.


If you were to give us one good reason to pick tea over a morning cup of coffee, what would it be?
That’s always the toughest part! Most people are so used to drinking their regular ‘chai’ because of habit that they aren’t willing to try different brews. However, being health conscious I would tell people the goodness of tea and the presence of essential fats and oils in it which is a must-have. Also, tea drinking is a beautiful ritual that calms you down. So, go ahead and enjoy your cup of chai!

 
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