Mornings in an Indian household are incomplete without their cuppa of the good old chai. Be a kitty party, or even a mid-day chat with a friend, a cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment at any hour or event.
And for decades, teas from India have made a name for themselves globally. Teas from the northern part of the country, especially the ones from Darjeeling deserve a special mention, as they have been instrumental in taking India to the forefront of the world tea map.
One brand that is making the right noise in this area is Vahdam Teas- a brand founded by the then 23-year-old Bala Sarda in 2015.
The teapreneur comes from a family involved in tea exports, making in-depth knowledge available from a young age. And so, after graduating, visits to tea estates made Bala realize the untapped potential Indian teas had in the global market.
Working around the beverage’s potential, he found Vahdam Teas in 2015.
Vahdam Teas sources all its raw materials directly from tea gardens in areas like Nilgiris, Assam, Darjeeling, and Kangra. Other processes like blending and packaging are taken care of at their Noida facility.
Starting with loose-leaf teas like black tea, green tea white tea, and oolong tea, the brand also ventured into gift sets, tea ware, drinkware, assortments, and superfoods like ginger, moringa, and ashwagandha.
Vahdam gained traction and was received well in foreign markets.
In tandem with their aim of positioning Indian tea in foreign markets, they labeled their tea boxes as ‘Packed in India’. However, this proved to be unwelcoming, especially in the United States of America. This was because of the perception of Indian products to be of lower standards and quality.
Also, though 25% of tea produced in the world is grown in India, it is the westerners who are often seen promoting our homegrown products, for example, the famed Indian ‘Haldi doodh’ is known as turmeric latte at Starbucks.
To tackle this, Bala acquired USDA certification and non-GMO verification, thereby propelling Vahdam teas into the US markets. Vahdam Teas then entered Canada, the UK, and Germany, and now has its presence in over 76 countries.
In the past five years, the brand has managed to raise more than INR 110 crore through venture funding and angel investors.
It has a massive customer base of more than 1.5 million in the US alone and is available in famed retail chains like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, etc…
Their teas have been endorsed by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, and Chris Pratt. It is one of the only certified plastic-neutral and climate-neutral tea brands in the world.
In India, teas from the brand are available on various e-commerce platforms and it sells through its website too.
As for the future, Bala Sarda plans to establish a stronger offline presence in the country.