Blog - All About Teas
Madhav Sarda, MD of Golden Tips Tea, says that the flavoured tea market is growing at a fast clip in India.
Flavoured teas are particularly popular in India and worldwide. Known for boosting immunity, these particular teas are now in demand post-pandemic. Madhav Sarda, Managing Director of Golden Tips Tea, said that Earl Grey Black tea is particularly favourite among tea lovers across the globe. Excerpts:
Q: According to you, what could be the future market growth of flavoured tea? Flavour in tea can be added in the form of spices, nuts, flowers, or flavour extracts such as essential oils of Bergamot, Lemon, Cranberry, Honey, Mint etc. With several organised players in the industry entering the fray, the flavoured tea market is growing at a fast clip in India. According to industry sources, flavoured tea market growth is estimated at 45% per year in India. As some reports suggest, the size of the flavoured tea market in India in terms of volume and price is approximately 60 million kgs and Rs 3,600 cr respectively. So, the flavoured tea market amounts to about 10% of the entire packaged tea consumption in India.
Q: Which flavour is higher in demand? Could you share some details on why customers favour that particular flavour? Earl Grey Black tea is by far the most popular flavoured tea from the Golden Tips stable. Apart from its numerous health benefits, the citrusy, aromatic and bold flavour of Earl Grey tea has made it a big favourite among tea lovers across the world. Earl Grey’s citrusy taste is due to the addition of natural Bergamot oil.
Earl Grey Loose Leaf Black TeaView Price
Earl Grey Spice Black TeaView Price
Earl Grey Green Tea - Tin CanView Price
Q: As Golden Tips Tea has plans to expand globally in a phased manner, which state or region (national and international) has higher demands for flavoured tea? Could share in detail about the growth in demand pre-pandemic and post-pandemic? Apart from the domestic market, our brand has dedicated customers across the globe and has shipped Golden Tips teas to almost 90 countries at some point of time in the last several years. Even though the distribution may not be very significant in terms of volume, the geographical spread is fairly noteworthy. Golden Tips also has exclusive representations in Russia, Japan, Mongolia, Taiwan, Nepal, Bhutan and now China, through distributors. Also, North America and Europe, particularly Russia have a fairly good demand for flavoured teas. Major factors driving the global market for flavoured tea include the easy availability of tea all over the world through various channels, especially online ones. Tea is exported all over the world and flavoured tea is receiving special attention in modern times, due to its added varieties and enhanced tastes. This is resulting in a surge in demand for flavoured tea across the globe. The demand for such functional teas has increased in India and globally particularly after the onset of Covid-19, as teas augmented with spices, fruits, nuts and natural herbs are known to boost immunity. Reports suggest that the moving annual total (MAT) of the packaged tea market in value is growing by around 19% in August 2021, over MAT August 2020 in India. Pre-pandemic, the growth was around 7% (2019 vs 2018).
Q: Has the economic crisis in Sri Lanka affected the growth of Golden Tips Tea? Plucking, processing and the final made tea are probably being stocked in Sri Lanka, and will eventually find their way to the market in spite of the current imbroglio. In the current situation, Sri Lanka is in dire need of US dollars and other hard currencies, and tea is one of their top forex earners. Hence, they are likely to do everything possible to ensure that their tea reaches the global markets and fetches the much-needed foreign exchange. Therefore, even if there may be some temporary minor benefits, significant long-term gains or benefits for Golden Tips emanating from the current socio-political scenario in Sri Lanka, are unlikely as exports will surely continue from that country.
Q: Due to the increased price rate, how do you plan to keep flavoured tea more affordable for the general public? As the prices of orthodox teas are spiralling, we are using broken and plain tea leaf varieties which have comparatively less character and are much cheaper than traditional made teas. The advantage of using these teas is that they are markedly less in price than full leaf teas and do not alter the taste of the tea in a significant manner.
Q: Where do you see Golden Tips Tea in 5 years? Golden Tips presently operates through its 14 tea boutiques, mostly in eastern India in Darjeeling, Mirik, Kalimpong, Gangtok, Bagdogra and Kolkata. Customers can buy our teas through our omni-channel routes like our website, www.goldentipstea.in, online marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart, several leading retail chains and select distributor networks across several countries. In the next five years, Golden Tips has the potential to become one of the noteworthy global home-grown Indian tea brands with a strong focus on business ethics, quality, optimum pricing, customer centricity and sustainable supply chain practices.
India’s Golden Tips, a tea brand from Darjeeling, is looking to expand its global footprint through e-commerce, strategic partnerships, and by widening its reach in global export markets through tie-ups overseas.
The brand has numerous retail outlets in the heart of Darjeeling and neighboring areas. “Over several decades, we have sourced, purchased and marketed the finest teas produced in Darjeeling,” said Madhav Sarda, a well-known tea taster and managing director of Golden Tips. “This has been our major contribution in bringing Darjeeling prominently on the world tea map."
For Sarda and Golden Tips, implementing new-age strategies and modifying the structure of the supply chain has proved to be beneficial. “Since digitization is the standard nowadays, using online channels of selling can boost the visibility and sales of tea brands,” he shared. “Also, since people are displaying an active interest in the purchase of premium teas online, online mediums could facilitate sales by providing a plethora of product information digitally, and thus increasing consumer knowledge and awareness.”
Sarda said virtual platforms also enable easy-to-understand and often measurable insight into the patterns and preferences of the target customers and consumer behavior which can help to improve future product innovations and sale mechanisms.
Golden Tips operates mostly through its retail chains (14+ stores across Eastern India), its omni- channel route pan India, and through its website. It also recently opened its flagship tea café and restaurant, Teattoria in Darjeeling, which offers Italian/continental and Asian-inspired cuisine along with, of course, the brand’s own specialty teas.
The company is focusing on broadening its presence in physical retail operations across metros of India by opening niche tea boutiques and stores. They’re also looking at commissioning a few outlets once the COVID-19 pandemic fully subsides.
Apart from the domestic market, the company has dedicated customers across the globe and has shipped Golden Tips teas to almost 90 countries over the last several years via orders from its website and online channels.
For business development, Golden Tips has exclusive representations in Russia, Japan, Mongolia, Taiwan, Nepal, Bhutan and now China – all through distributors.
Indeed, Darjeeling tea is a sought-after tea by connoisseurs and avid tea-drinkers around the globe. The one-of-a-kind taste of Darjeeling teas comes from its unique terroir, along with the intricacies of harvesting and processing. Though Darjeeling constitutes only 0.1 percent of the world’s tea production, it is known for its distinctive flavor and aroma, which is unique only to the region.Sarda noted that Assam is a fairly important market for Golden Tips in both CTC and loose-leaf tea categories.
“We operate primarily from Darjeeling; however, we also procure good quality teas from Assam through specialty auctions and few producers,” Sarda said.
Golden Tips's expertise lies in packaging premium teas in multiple variants, sizes, colors and assortments, thereby giving a plethora of choices to the customers to pick their teas from. “We facilitate free tea-tasting sessions in all our tea boutiques, thereby making it easier for international and domestic buyers to have easy access to our offerings and select the teas of their choice,” Sarda said.
Factoring in the Supply Chain, Sustainability into Golden Tips’ Business
While climate and sustainability is certainly very important for Golden Tips, the influence of supply chains on the price of tea cannot be ignored. “In India, the world’s second largest producer of tea, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the industry,” shared Sarda. “Social distancing measures have not only prevented some workers from harvesting tea but also disturbed trucking services. On top of that, port closures have sparked shipping delays and halted exports of tea. Meanwhile, the country’s logistics operations are also suffering due to a lack of equipment.”
Looking at other issues the business faces, Sarda said that tea leaves are continually being harvested, resulting in the loss of nutrients in the leaves, so nutrients must be continually added in order for tea to continue being harvested.
“Unfortunately, natural and ecologically-friendly fertilizers are not the norm in the tea industry,” revealed Sarda. “These fertilizers can lead to a number of problems, though small amounts of these nutrients are beneficial on land. Over fertilization can also result in soil acidification and contamination of water supplies with nitrates.”
Gradual changes in temperature and rainfall patterns in Darjeeling hills is also beginning to affect production of the famous Darjeeling tea. “The maximum temperature in Kurseong has risen by 0.51 degree over the last 20 years, while total annual rainfall dropped by 56 mm and relative humidity by 16.07 percent, leading to a decline in overall production of Darjeeling tea in terms of green leaf production per hectare,” Sarda said.
Growing Brand Consciousness for Golden Tips
As gifting tea packages at corporate events, weddings, etc. has become a common trend, brand consciousness has come into play on a larger scale for Golden Tips. People are now progressively opting for branded labels instead of products from the “unorganized sector.”
“This has led to increased global investment in tea brands who have a compelling story to tell and with a scalable business model,” said Sarda.
As per Nielsen’s insights, Indian consumers these days look at food labels more than ever before and are willing to pay more for products that make the cut, especially those with added nutrients. They are also more loyal to trusted brands.
“The surge in brand preference has also come because of the inclination towards health and hygiene factors, since people generally expect a product to be premium and reliable if it is branded,” Sarda noted.
Golden Tips’ Teattoria Is a Hit, Tea Café Chains Are Emerging
The brand’s Teattoria restaurant, nestled in one corner in a main promenade of Darjeeling and adjacent to the Golden Tips Tea Boutique, Chowrasta, has a uniquely conceptualized outdoor serving area overlooking the majestic mountains.
The view on a clear day – or even on a clouded one – is alluring and mesmerizing with lilting and music to win one's heart. The venue also overlooks Chowrasta, the city center on the other side. The eatery also features a classy and well-furnished indoor fine-dining area to seat 30 to 35 people, and it also offers brilliant views of the nature outside.
Sarda says tea café chains emerging across India are giving consumers a midway option between at-home consumption and the humble roadside stall. A number of companies with tea outlets similar to modern coffee chains have mushroomed and are slowly revolutionizing the tea industry in India.
“These companies are looking to appeal to young Indians by offering them an upgraded version of the tea ‘Dhabas’ and their efforts are paying off. Some of these startups are now national chains," said Sarda, who believes these tea chains are a much better alternative to the open-air tea vendors in India, offering consumers a more relaxed environment with seating and snacks.
Why Shouldn’t Darjeeling be everyone’s cup of tea
Some people travel for leisure, many people travel for food and some travel for both. So, it would be fair to say that there would be people who travel for the drink that many of us just can’t do without, first thing in the morning. There are few better places to savour a cup of tea than at a tea plantation, close to the land where the leaves were plucked from, overlooking verdant hillsides and picturesque valleys. India has a plethora of stays for tea lovers, mostly estates from yesteryears which have been refurbished into quaint homestays.
In the British era, Darjeeling was one of the favourite retreats for the officers. With its quaint colonial charm and endless green stretches of lush tea plantations, the region has been a favourite for people who have yearned to do away with city life for some time, and get lost in magical natural beauty. Nowadays, estates have started adding varied experiences like horse riding, nature trains, visit to local families, cultural evenings, among other things. Hence, Tea tourism provides travellers with the opportunity to interact with nature, wildlife and simultaneously extract the goodness of socio-cultural diversity of the region.
People can learn about local cultures by getting a first-hand account of the rituals and ceremonies. Boosting rural tourism will help solve socio-economic problems and alleviate the livelihoods of denizens.
It would not be incorrect to state that tea tourism can alter the tea drinking experience entirely by helping us understand the origins, processing, and terroir of tea in an intellectual manner. It can engage sensorially – we can touch the dew laden tea leaves and smell the earthiness of the soil in which it grows. Sometimes to taste the best tea, you just need to have a sense of adventure.
With the government allowing tea garden owners to use a part of their unused land for the purpose of tea tourism, there is also a growing need to educate tea estate owners, guides, and travel agencies on the benefits of tea tourism.
The Challenges: – Tea tourism in India is still in its nascent stage. Given our colonial history and our own rich legacy, India has immense potential to offer a robust tea-tasting and tourism experience. However, it lacks proper structure, policy and marketing initiatives.
Detailed planning is required for making tea tourism more attractive in India. The Tea Board and the Tourism ministry at the Centre can join hands to play a crucial role in this endeavour. Tea companies too should come forward and aim to promote Eco-Tourism by devoting land which is not feasible for plantation tea for multifarious tea-related activities, and setting up resorts and homestays.
This will boost the economy of the region by creating new jobs, increasing revenues of all stakeholders, improve infrastructure and plant a sense of cultural exchange between visitors and locals.
Organising Tea Festivals in the tea gardens, visits to Tea Boutiques located at nearby towns where exotic teas, tea wares & souvenirs are on display, will further drive interest in such tea tourism.
Tea gastronomy could be highlighted with the promotion of Teainfused drinks & beverages, confectionery, food and this could further add to the many lucrative avenues for the areas around the tea estate. These steps could help promote, upgrade & highlight the consumption of teas as well as their multi-health benefits, which fall within the ambit of Tea Tourism.
Most of the above measures can inject a much-needed impetus to the Tea Tourism industry, tea trade in general, rural areas scattered around tea plantations, tourist guides & interpreters, manufacturers & dealers of tea accessories etc. However, there needs to be a concerted effort involving all stakeholders to move ahead in this direction.
Lastly, the pandemic has led people to search for more isolated and secluded spots, which has slowly resulted in more and more people being interested in these beautifully preserved estates. This accounts for the rise in Indian tourists visiting tea estates, which were predominantly popular with foreigners. This momentum needs not only to be preserved but also to be accelerated further.
Tea is one of the most loved beverages in India and across the world. PM Modi’s “tea connection” has caught the imagination of an entire generation. People have enjoyed tea since time immemorial and consider it to be one of the most cherished parts of their native culture. The love of Indian audiences for this super beverage has given the tea industry a loyal customer base in the country.
According to expertmarketresearch.com, the Indian tea industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 4.2% in the 2021-26 period and reach an approximate valuation of 1.40 million tonnes by the end of this period.
Like a bolt from the blue, the Covid pandemic has changed the world forever. A new normal has emerged in almost every aspect of life. This has resulted in tea retail brands to tweak their business strategy and start opening bakeries and cafes alongside their boutiques to cater to popular demand. Not surprisingly, branded tea cafes are frothing up across India’s cities, as an upgrade to the ubiquitous CHAI stalls.
These cafes are located either adjacent to, or within the tea boutiques themselves. They are offering specialized tea mocktails and snacks like cookies, macarons and sandwiches to guests along with premium teas. This combination is a hugely popular concept brewing all over India.
As per a study by Numr Research, about 443 million Indian millennials spend more than Rs 4,000 on their wellness and experiential activities every month. They form the largest group of consumers who will drive consumer demand and result in economic growth in the next decade. They are in fact, accentuating this trend of opening tea bars alongside tea boutiques.
Earlier, tea stalls were a common sight across India, but they were fragmented and unorganised. Tea café chains like the one started by Golden Tips are emerging across India and giving consumers a midway option between at-home consumption and the humble roadside stall. These tea cafes offer a comfortable alternative as against roadside tea vendors and which provide people a more relaxed setting, with proper seating and snacks.
Another narrative worth a thought is that coffee is not a common man’s beverage in India and which allowed cafés to position coffee as trendy and as a consequence of which, coffee outlets became aspirational places. They offered a chic ambience, with an assortment of beverages, snacks along with free wi-fi, and thus became hangout areas for college going crowds and young professionals. Tea companies tried to copy this model, but initially it did not take off since tea is a common man’s drink in India. As a result, tea brands quickly moved towards enhancing the overall tea-drinking experience for the customer by opening plush tea bars.
More importantly, they have positioned themselves as casual Vis-à-vis coffee shops’ sophistication, encouraging customers to make multiple visits a day in contrast to coffee chains. This is in line with how tea is seen in India – as a people’s drink consumed - sweet, milky or even without milk - several times a day.
Post Covid, this homage to Indian roots is mainly what tea companies are bringing to the table in a contemporary setting. This shift in strategy appears to be paying off for the tea brands. Providing more varied options than coffee chains at lower price, goes a long way in appealing to consumers, especially experience-hungry millennials.
For example, a cup of MASALA CHAI at Golden Tips tea bar is priced at INR 80 with complimentary cookies as well, whilst the cheapest coffee at Starbucks could set you off by INR 200 or more. Targeting Millennials is not surprising, since almost a third of the country’s population is in the 15- 35 age group, who are also likely to share their experiences on social media and other platforms.
Meanwhile, personalisation is a major selling point for Golden Tips tea bars. Customers can choose from our eclectic variety of teas and a range of herbs and spices at reasonable rates. With these options of customising their tea, patrons can conjure up a cuppa that appeals to their palate and preference.
This highlights the need for brands to constantly reinvent themselves to reach out to newer customers, not only with product innovations but also with formats that cater to changing times and needs. This can go a long way in acquiring new audiences without alienating traditional brand loyalists.
Madhav Sarda is the expert tea taster and managing director of tea retail brand Golden Tips Tea
After having sold 1st flush tea from our estate in auction for Rs 23,000 per kg, with good monsoon projections ahead, we are also bullish about 2nd flush Darjeeling tea, says Madhav Sarda, MD, Golden Tips Tea
Ex Jammu and Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah visits Golden Tips Tea boutique located in Chowrasta, Darjeeling.
9th May, 2022 – Ex Jammu and Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah recently visited Golden Tips Tea boutique located in Chowrasta, Darjeeling. He savoured premium quality Moonlight Spring Teas in the premises.
The love for the elixir made the British do some industrial reconnaissance and bring the seeds of Camellia Sinensis to the foothills of the mighty Himalayas – Darjeeling.