While the popularity of tea is growing worldwide, very few companies in India cater to this demand. India produces half the world’s tea. Some of the finest tea is grown in India. Why then, aren’t more companies tapping into this growing market? This very question along with their love for tea made Atulit and Srinidhi Chokhani take their 150 years of tea experience and culture and share it with the world, and thus, introduced The Tea Shelf an online tea shop in January 2015. While Atulit was born to a family of tea lovers, Srinidhi married into one.

Atulit and Srinidhi, Co-founders, The Tea Shelf
Atulit and Srinidhi, Co-founders, The Tea Shelf

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). 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 is high quality, premium tea. 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.

There are many companies who sell tea, but very few companies who sell fresh, single estate, non-blended, loose-leaf premium Indian tea. The Tea Shelf doesn’t use the word ‘premium’ loosely.  The company sources handpicked tea from across India (particularly Assam, Darjeeling, Kangra, and Nilgiri, etc) in selected quantities “to make sure only the freshest tea reach the consumer,” explains Srinidhi, who proudly adds that they count on very professional assistance for tea selection. “We are being assisted by J Thomas India (P) Ltd, the largest and oldest tea auctioneer of the world. J Thomas India is the pioneer of tea tasting, and has helped the Indian government to showcase Indian tea worldwide.”

As for packaging, The Tea Shelf avoids conventional methods. Srinidhi says, “All our teas are stored in a dehumidified environment when received, and packaged in consumer vacuum packs once the master cartons are opened. All teas are packed in 100gm pouches so a consumer has to open only a single pack at a time, keeping the tea fresh.”

Delivery is important because the market is global. Srinidhi says, “Tea drinkers worldwide have recently become aware of the health benefits of tea, and you can see a changing trend from cooking tea to brewing tea. While the UK and Russia have been tea drinking nations since decades, USA is just turning from a coffee drinking nation to a tea drinking one.”

The team, which bootstrapped and plans to reach break even in the next three years, has reached 250 customers in India, the UK, USA, Russia, Germany, Australia, and Canada since January 2015. They have tied up with DHL for international shipments and Aramex for domestic shipments while for pin codes not catered by these companies they work with Indian Post. “We are also in talks with other companies such as Shipkart, Delhivery etc to optimize the logistics,” they add.

Atulit and Srinidhi 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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