- Who is The Tea Leaf Theory?
The Tea Leaf Theory is a close-to-heart project of two childhood friends Anshuman Bharali and Upamanyu Borkakoty – both alumni of Delhi University. While Anshuman has a rich experience in finance and operations, and is an ex-financial consultant, instrumental in setting up various small and medium-scale industries across Assam, Upamanyu is an ex-brand marketing professional, who worked with companies such as Sennheiser Electronics and Wizcraft International. He is responsible for marketing, product procurement and quality control.
- What made you venture into Tea? Tell us the story.
Venturing into tea business was not a plan, but an inner calling from our land. During our college days, a lot of questions on tea were thrown at us and that’s when the interest grew. 3 years ago, we came up with the idea to sell tea directly from-tea estates-to-consumers with the help of technology. We wanted to make fresh teas accessible, and hence studied the tea manufacturing process, tasted them and learnt the basics of tea manufacturing before we started our journey of selling it online. Our first contacts of tea garden managers came from close friends and relatives. During this time, we also met a few small organic farmers in Assam and were moved by their plight, as although they have dedicated their lives to set up micro tea processing units, but they are still struggling to sell their produce of high-quality tea in the local market. Local consumers hardly value them. That’s where we saw an opportunity and at once decided to work for these organic farmers. This is the story behind The Tea Leaf Theory. However, it took us almost 2.5 years to finally pull off the initiative.
- Are you the first e-commerce site to exclusively sell tea in India?
We are not the first e-commerce site to sell tea in India, but are the first online tea store to sell organic speciality tea from only small farmers across India and Nepal. We sell only limited batch tea.
- What’s your USP?
The Tea Leaf Theory sells only the finest grade rare artisan teas from small organic tea gardens of Assam, Darjeeling, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nilgiris and Nepal. Most of our farmers still handcraft tea and produce only in limited batches, unlike commercial grade teas from big gardens. We also deliver rare organic Assam tea directly from the farms to more than 60 countries across the globe in the shortest time possible during the tea producing seasons. We are perhaps the fastest garden-to-cup operating venture in the speciality tea category.
- How have you managed to reach to tea farmers of rural Northeast? It seems like a mammoth task!
It was indeed a very difficult task, as small organic farmers mostly operate from the remotest of the places in Assam. Farmers always help fellow farmers and that is how we gathered contacts across Northeast. But Darjeeling and Nepal was a different experience, we travelled for almost 15–20 days and met small tea grower communities. Most farmers in Darjeeling are still dependent on big factories to sell green leaves. However, unlike Darjeeling, micro tea processing units are becoming popular among small tea growers in Nepal.
- How has the response been so far?
The response so far has been tremendous and we are extremely grateful for that. Previously, these teas never stayed in India and were mostly exported to European countries. Indian consumers are still at a nascent stage of getting to know these flavours, but those who have tasted, have instantly become loyal customers. Our International consumers patiently wait for the box of organic happiness to arrive at their door steps. We have been able to cut down on the logistic time, which helped reduce the delivery time. Even a consumer sitting in the US gets to drink fresh limited batch Single Estate, unblended teas directly from the organic gardens. We are glad that we have been able to bring a difference to the regular cup of tea.
- What are your plans for the next 2 years?
Whatever we do has to benefit the small organic farmers and bring a change in their lifestyles. Hence, all our efforts are directed towards growing our consumer base across International markets and also educating Indian consumers. Chinese tea is far ahead of Indian teas in the speciality tea category and we are just a new comer in this segment. Indian tea has always been regarded as a regular breakfast blend in the developed nations and we are committed towards changing this perception, and creating a niche for the speciality teas from India in the global market. This will open a new market for small organic growers both in the developed markets and the emerging markets, and will motivate their peers to adopt organic ways of cultivating and joining the organic revolution.
For the freshest cup of organic tea, you can place your order at The Tea Leaf Theory.