The rise of flavoured tea biz: India beyond 'Doodh Chai'
The rise of flavoured tea biz: India beyond 'Doodh Chai'

India and its connection with tea are world-famous (thanks to our PM). Keeping aside the political connotation, tea is India’s best-loved beverage, and for most Indians, it is mankind’s greatest discovery. After all, India is the world’s second-largest producer of tea and most of its production is geared to meet domestic demand. Per capita consumption of tea has been growing steadily for the past fifty years and, today Indians consume a whopping 837,000 tonnes of their favourite beverage.

However, most Indians like sipping on milk tea because of the flavour or just out of habit. Initially, people started adding dairy so as to reduce the bitterness of the tea; however, the addition turned into a habit and ended up becoming an addiction for most. But lately, there has been a gradual shift towards flavoured tea with a wider acceptance in the Indian taste palate. 

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Millennials moving beyond ‘doodh-chai’

For young India to move towards a conscious, healthy and effortless lifestyle blending the regular green and black teas with flavours that will meet the interest of audience taste notes has become important for a few of the tea brand. The Indian Chai started in the year 2016, realizing the need for teas to be flavoured. 

“Indian population, in general, have witnessed a large scale health ailments due to their choice in lifestyle leading to weakness, fatigue, fogginess, irregular periods and sleep cycles and our range of wellness teas like PCOS tea, Cough & Cold Tea, tulsi good sleep tea, Dandelion root tea and lungs cleanse and Detoxify tea have significantly helped them supplement their lifestyles better,” Shradha Jain, Co-Founder, The Indian Chai commented. 

Pandemic fueling the demand

“We’ve seen a growing acceptance towards Herbal Teas, wellness teas and iced teas especially post the pandemic. The pandemic has led to a fundamental shift in consumer’s behaviour towards high quality, natural and organic wellness products,” added Bala Sarda, Founder & CEO, VAHDAM India.

At Vahdam India, their range of organic turmeric focused herbal teas followed by other herbal teas are the fastest-growing categories as of now. Consumers are now moving beyond regular tea and open to experimenting. They are increasingly inclined towards trying out innovative flavours and unique blends of hibiscus tea,  Apple cinnamon tea, and anti-hangover tea. There are also various quirky tea blends available in the market like giloy and ashwagandha which cater to the demands and preferences of the consumers ensuring both taste and wellness. 

According to Nalin Sood, CEO & Co- Founder, Teamonk Global, the biggest pain point with green teas is that though they are perceived to be healthy, consumers find them bitter. To solve this, most brands have launched green teas with different flavours, which improve palatability and make them more acceptable. A lot of the green tea growth is now fueled by flavoured variants.

Online shopping comes in favour

There has been a drastic change, rather a major shift in the consumer psyche and they now prefer online shopping over physically visiting the stores. Shalini Raj, Founder, The Infused Kettle feels that this trend has proved to be beneficial for brands offering flavoured and herbal teas as consumers are now well-aware and hence make well-informed purchasing designs. 

“While shopping online, they conduct in-depth research and gather knowledge about new variants and flavours in the hot beverage market specifically in the case of tea offerings,” she added. 

Teamonk Global has sold over 15 mn cups and continue to add to its base of very loyal consumers and are witnessing a very strong demand for the teas, esp from overseas markets, and have doubled the volumes from the pre-pandemic period.  Sood informed that the company is primarily catering to D2C demand and sell teas in major overseas markets including USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, Russia among others, through eCommerce partners and own website. 

Existing market players tapping the segment

Luxmi tea which is into the business since 1912, is soon entering the segment of flavoured tea. “We have our own estates in which we have allowed herbs and fruit that are endemic to the region to grow along with our teas, we will be incorporating them as additives to our green and black teas,” Atul Rastogi, President, Luxmi Tea Co. Pvt. Ltd. shared. 

The growth trajectory that these companies foresee will be from flavoured green teas as consumers are aware of the fact that green tea is among the least processed teas and has high antioxidant content. 

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Rastogi further commented that the Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing market for flavored teas and India is second only to China in terms of acceptance of teas that have been blended with spices, fruit bits, flower petals, herbs, and a whole array of botanicals. 

Tea has made everyone re-discover, and the timeless wisdom of the Indian way of life – simple, natural, organic and holistic. Although there is a long way before it replaces the traditional milk culture there has been a clear massive change in the mindset amongst consumers. 

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