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Tea Trails: Brewing business over a good old cup of chai For tea lovers, the start-up serves gourmet teas from around the world.

By Samiksha Jain

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Are you a tea lover? Does your morning starts with a cup of a tea? If yes, then you should certainly pay a visit to Tea Trails' tea lounges, where the team strives to make your tea experience captivating and extraordinary. Tea Trails is the chain of tea cafes in India that offers curated range of the finest teas from around the world along with suitable tea accompaniments.


Figures reflect that café industry in India is around Rs 2,000 crore with around 3,500 cafes from organised players and the same is expected to grow 100 per cent by 2020. Similarly, Indian tea industry and the beverage café market are currently valued at Rs 19,500 crore and Rs 1,800 crore respectively. India is said to be the second largest tea consuming market in the world, but the tea café market is practically non-existent. Tea Trails, founded in November 2013 by enthusiastic tea drinkers Kavita Mathur and Uday Mathur, aspire to cater to this latent demand and be the category leader.

The co-owners of Tea Trails understand the importance of not only the finest quality tea leaf available, but also the perfect pot. Taking this into consideration, the team has come up with Tea Trails, a place for people to meet over a good old cup of chai along with some of the more worldly teas, and have a pleasant break from the cliché of drinking coffee over conversations that often surround us.

"We took more than 2 years from ideation to the project launch. Our team traveled extensively across the globe to identify the best teas suitable to the Indian pallet and tasted more than 2000 varieties of teas across the globe before finalising the offering. A detailed study was done on the emerging global tea lounge culture and their offerings. Thousands of man hours were spent on curating a food menu that includes tea infused recipes and "Tea Food' pairing," says Uday Mathur, Co-founder, Tea Trails India.

Tea Trails' offerings

For tea lovers, the start-up serves gourmet teas from around the world and has an exquisite range of teas from hot to cold and normal to extravagant. It offers an experience of almost 80 varieties of teas. Their offerings range from White tea, Green tea to Oolong, Herbal and Black tea, with several other varieties available. They also serve Bubble teas like the Taiwanese Bubble Tea, and the Tapioca Bubble variant. Further, there is also a choice among Indian tea like adrak, pudina, kalimirch, masala and lemon grass tea.

The chain further specialises in elaborately tea-infused food menu, which consists of the signature tea infused dishes like the Burmese Tea Salad, Tea Marbled Eggs, Tea Infused Thai Bowl, pizza and pasta and many Indian dishes like Tea infused Chole Kulche, Rajma Chawal and much more.

Speaking about tea brewing process, Kavita Mathur, Co-founder, Tea Trails, shares, "Brewing tea is an ancient art which is seldom paid attention to. We, at Tea Trails, understand the importance of brewing and steeping high quality loose leaf teas to perfection, without which, the experience of drinking tea cannot be enjoyed to its fullest".


The start-up has also recently raised $1 million in seed round of funding from group of HNIs (High Net Worth Individuals) led by Anil Matai, former CEO of Pharmaceuticals of Novartis India Limited; Vikram Tandon, Regional Head, Middle East at Back Office Associates; and Shyam Sundar R, Partner at CPM Consulting. The venture plans to utilise a major part of the funding to expand its footprint across India.

When asked how he was able to convince the investors to fund in their project, Uday says, "Strong business potential of the market; successful track record and executional capabilities of promoter team makes Tea Trails an attractive investible proposition. We have had a franchise prospect converting to a major investor post a 2 hour meeting".

Growth and Expansion

Tea Trails has a first mover advantage. In this regard, Tea Trails looks to expand its network with over 500 outlets within the next 5 years. Currently operating 8 outlets in Mumbai, the brand plans to open 45 outlets across the country by FY 2015 end. On a medium term, Tea Trails further plans to open 250 outlets by 2018.

"We already have started expanding our presence in our focus markets such as Mumbai, NCR, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. We will also move to Tier II and III cities by the end of FY 2016," elaborates Uday.

Tea Trails is targeting malls, commercial spaces and high streets to open its outlets across India and is also looking at smaller kiosk formats to be opened in food courts. "There is a large potential in this space, and going forward, we would be adding "delivery options' and online sales of merchandise as well," he adds further.

Tea Trails have embarked on a pan India expansion strategy, with a combination of 20 per cent company owned and 80 per cent franchisee-owned outlets. Its franchise model is international in its format and lends itself to global expansion, with potential interest from franchisees from Middle East and far Eastern markets.

Samiksha Jain

Former Staff, Entrepreneur.com

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