The Tea Shelf: Get your cup of premium Indian tea

assam tea estate

Tea is the second most consumed drink, after water! There are many companies who sell tea, but very few companies who sell fresh tea, single estate (non blended) tea, loose leaf (no tea bags), premium Indian tea. You go to a supermarket to buy some good Indian tea – a White Nilgiri tea or a Black Orthodox Assam, or a Darjeeling First Flush, and it’s not available! Why does a tea lover who wants good tea have to purchase tea from English or Sri Lankan brands, when some of the best tea in the world is produced here in India which you can find on the tea shelf . Also, The Tea Shelf’s  no tea-bag policy helps reduce the carbon footprint on earth, and loose leaf tea is simply better tea than the dust in the tea bags!

At The Tea Shelf, the product range focuses on premium Indian loose leaf tea. All teas are retailed in their pure and authentic form as single estate teas (non blended and non flavored). These teas are sourced directly from the tea estates across India – Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri, Kangra and Dooars. Today, India produces nearly 1.2 billion kgs of tea, of which Indians consume almost 900 million kgs itself! However, of the 1.2 billion kgs produced, only 2% of the production would be high quality, premium tea. The Tea Shelf’s group gardens have always maintained in delivering quality tea, unlike most in the industry who have gone from an own plantation model to a mass scale by buying inferior quality leaves. Similarly, The Tea Shelf believes in only supplying quality tea to its customers, hence they are focusing on supplying tea only from Premium Tea Growing Gardens of India.

‘The Tea Shelf‘ is the brain child of Atulit and Srinidhi Chokhani. While Atulit was born to a family of tea lovers, Srinidhi married into one. And together they decided to share their expertise and love for tea with the World and thus introduced ‘The Tea Shelf‘ – an online tea shop in January 2015. Belonging to a family of tea planters, there could never be enough tea (talking it or drinking it!) . The idea behind The Tea Shelf was to make premium loose leaf Indian teas available to all tea drinkers, worldwide; to create an awareness of the taste & quality of tea; to uplift tea from a regular beverage to a coveted drink; to witness a shift from cooking tea to brewing tea. There’s tea, and then there is good tea! So making good tea available to all is what keeps them going. To share their tea experience with the world! Their family has a 150 year old history in the tea business – from tea plantations, to tea engineering, to tea packaging and exports. So to grow the inherited business was the key motivation. Further, a recent trip to a vineyard in South Africa, Boschendal, added to the encouragement. It is one of the oldest and largest vineyards, but still family run and tea is now being marketed as a coveted drink, not your regular chai stall – just like wine!

The segment of tea which ‘The Tea Shelf‘ is targeting is approximately 25 million kgs of tea. But the interesting fact is that these teas are possibly 10 times in value of the balance 98% of the teas. This industry of the high grown orthodox variety, be it Nilgiris, Darjeeling, Assam , or Kangra, could be valued anywhere between 6,000 to 12,000 crs. Their target is to be able to target 1% of the High Grown Market Segment by 2020 (appx a 60 Cr Market). Why High Growns? This market is still new, in India and outside. Their prime markets, apart from India are UK, USA, Russia, Germany, Australia, and Canada. Tea drinkers have recently become aware of the health benefits of tea, and you can see a changing trend from cooking tea to brewing tea.

Consumers are gradually appreciating the different tastes and varieties of tea. While UK and Russia have been tea drinking nations since decades, USA is just turning from a coffee drinking nation to a tea drinking one. Recent survey shows 36.4% Germans are interested in buying groceries online, and they are amongst the largest importers of Indian tea. A clear example. of the market for some of these teas are: Makaibari is sold at nearly a lakh and a half a kg to Japanese Emperors. Such teas are remarked and packed in various tea lounges and tea gourmet shops at twice the price at which they can supply. Okayti is being sold for 2.5 times the price at a TWG store in Singapore. The Tea Shelf, own Garden Mark, Anandabag, was being sold at 20 pounds/100 gms in Germany, nearly 10 times more than what we could supply it at online.

Atulit and Srinidhi bootstrapped the venture but they are definitely open to the idea of funding. Both of them have the vision of making The Tea Shelf , the one stop shop for all good things related to Tea. So, Get your cup of tea here.

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