Teas make for unique gifts as they are a healthy option compared to traditional sweets or chocolates - perfectly timed for the festive season," says Kausshal Dugarr, founder of Teabox which sells Indian teas in 115 countries. Shikha Puri, co-founder of Teacupsfull agrees. “Most of us start our day with tea and good tea sets the mood for the day. With winters around the corner you can be rest assured that it will add cheer to your cup," she adds. “Teas also offer a refreshing departure from the usual gifts around Diwali. Plus they last for days and weeks bringing back memories of the good times and special moments long after the laughter and celebrations are over," says Dugarr.

The origin

Kolkata-based co-founder of The Tea Shelf, Atulit Chokhani belongs to a family of sixth generation planters in Assam. “Stepping into the digital space came as the next natural step and so my wife, Srinidhi, and I launched The Tea Shelf in January 2015," he says.

For Puri the idea of getting into tea business actually incubated in Darjeeling, her home town when she visited it after leaving her job with the advertising agency JWT. “I realized the in-depth knowledge and rich experience our family had, and that we just needed to package it right to be able to bring a really good cup of tea to people," she says. She then founded Teacupsfull with her father-in-law N K Puri, an ex-tea planter. Her husband, who is a trained tea taster, also pitches in.

Ashutosh Ghosh, founder of The Hillcart Tales, travelled far and wide across the globe studying distinctive characters of teas before launching the brand a year ago. He also meticulously developed blends that harmonized nuances of one tea with another. Their environment friendly handcrafted muslin tea bags, also provide employment to underprivileged women who are assigned the task of making these.

The challenge

A startup faces challenges at various stages of its business cycle. For Teacupsfull it was translating their extensive knowledge and hands-on experience in the industry into a product that’ll appeal to today’s customers across geographies and age groups. “Besides the research, we also created an experiential centre where customers can come and try the teas before they buy. That’s how our brick and mortar store is modelled," shares Puri.

For the Chokhanis venturing into an online model brought about a new issue everyday, be it logistics, web development, packaging or marketing. “Reaching out to the target audience in an online retail model can be a challenge initially," they say. They also found people sceptical about paying more for quality loose leaf tea, so The Tea Shelf invested a lot of time in educating the customers in the initial stage.

Festive talk

For the festive season each of these companies have special offers and products. “During Diwali, new and interesting blends always work well. This year keeping with our theme ‘Be a Great Host’ we’ve come up with four new handcrafted blends—The Kewra Delight Oolong, The Paan Rose Green, Caramel Spice Black and Fruits and Nuts Tisane," says Dugarr. Similarly Teacupsfull’s has packaged together special gift boxes for Diwali . “Our best-selling gift combinations are “Happiness", “Joyful", “Cheerful", “Grandeur" and our gift boxes contain connoisseur grade teas that are not available in regular retail stores," shares Puri.

Chokhanis say that there is a higher demand for flavoured teas during festive season. They understand that everyone has a different budget, hence The Tea Shelf has gift options starting from 300 going up to 5,000.

The Hillcart Tales offers 29 variants of teas across the category of Black tea, Green tea, Tisanes, Oolong, White teas, Dessert Teas, Cold Brew teas. For the festive season they have created a range called “Treasure Blends" which has four different boxes for different palates, starting at 900. Their special box offers a combination of dessert teas like Apple Strudel, Caramel Dream, Lemon Cake, Tiramisu Delight, etc. and is a best-seller during this time. It is a hit with those looking for healthy alternate options for desserts to satiate their sweet tooth cravings. Imagine sipping a healthy tea and yet satisfying your sweet tooth effectively. That’s the magic of tea innovation, which seems at its most creative during Diwali.

The Gift Basket looks at unique gifting options for the festive season and the people behind them.

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