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Interview: Kavita Mathur and Uday Mathur, Co-Founders, Tea Trails

Tea Trails offers a gourmet tea drinking experience to the discerning consumer and brings to India the fast emerging international trend with a desi twist. Zone8 Tea World Pvt Ltd that runs Tea Trails brand cafes across various cities in India is expanding manifold.

Launched in late 2013 by a group of entrepreneurs with successful track records, Tea Trails has embarked on an interesting journey of changing the rules of the game in the cafe space. Tea Trails serve gourmet teas from around the world and have an exquisite range of teas from hot to cold and simple to extravagant.

Kavita Mathur and Uday Mathur, Co-founders of Tea Trails in an interview with Suman Prasad spoke in length about how this venture started, what makes it different from other established players, specialty of Teas served at Tea Trails, role of R&D, Food-Te pairing and many other interesting details.

Excerpts from the interview:

On how this venture started

KM: We observed a lifestyle change across the globe during our travel. A smooth shift from coffee to tea was noticed for the health benefits attached. I have been studying teas more out of passion for the last 6 years now. So we decided to start our venture into teas.

Inimitability of the concept

KM: Brewing a perfect cup of tea is an art long forgotten. We at Tea trails belief in educating our customers, not only about the health benefits of the different styles of tea but also provide an experience for them.

Tea like wine grows at different elevations and it is important to know the tea garden, the harvest season, what food it best pairs with. We at Tea Trails prepare and serve fresh food with signature dishes that are interestingly infused with tea leaves. These are all the factors that set us apart from all the other players in the market.

Specialty of teas served at Tea Trails

KM: We serve around 100 varieties of different styles of teas like Whites, Greens, Oolongs, Blacks, Coolers Mocktails and 12 perfected variants of our good old chai. Since we don’t use tea bags the quality and grade of teas are superior as we only use whole leaf teas. Selection of teas is done to best suit the Indian palate and not just for increasing the list on the menu.

Importance of Research & Development in such business

UM: Tea being a newer category product in the cafe segment, we give a lot of emphasis on R&D. We follow a product philosophy guided by which we reach out to new raw materials, blends and processes to create any new product. The R&D team constantly tries out newer products, involving teas and food and any product qualifies to be a part of menu only if it satisfies the taste & nutritional requirements. Feedbacks from existing customers are also taken into account”.

Sourcing the Tea Leaves

KM: I have travelled through all the major tea gardens across the globe and there is a continuous supply of the chosen teas from these gardens for Tea Trails. Our teas are handpicked from across China, Japan, Argentina, South Africa and of course from the best of gardens in India from Darjeeling, Nilgiri, Munnar, Assam and Kangra.

On Tea-Food Pairing Concept

KM: Since there is a lot of similarity between teas and wine, we do Tea pairings or Tea service at our cafes, we hold tea tasting sessions time and again. We feel this is a very important aspect in the tea drinking culture.

We do Indian tea pairings like veg. pakoras or bun maska with chai. Along with these we also do some fancy pairing like Japanese tea blends with tempura fritters, Chinese teas with salads, British styled classic teas with pound cakes and finger sandwiches among others.

Steeping Time and Temperature of Teas

KM: The very essence of brewing a perfect cup of tea is the fact that different teas has different steeping time and temperature. White teas which are merely oxidised needs a lower temperature around 65 degrees Celsius for 2-3 minutes. On the other hand a fully oxidised black tea would require around 100 degree Celsius for 3-4 minutes.

Cost of varieties used at Tea Trails

KM: At Tea Trails, the finest and best varieties of tea are sourced from across the world, the cost of which are really on the higher side. Silver Needle, one of the premium variety of tea is retailed at Rs. 1200 per 50 gm, Lapsang Souchong and Darjeeling First Flush, the other two varieties are retailed at Rs. 750 and Rs. 600 per 50 gm.

Expansion Plan

UM: Tea Trails have embarked on a pan India expansion strategy that is a combination of company owned and franchised outlets. We plan to open 500 stores in India by 2020. Currently we have our flagship store in Koramangla in Bangalore and will also soon launch in HSR Layout.

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