If you've ever been to India, you will know that the one thing we Indians love more than anything else is to sit around chatting while polishing off innumerable cups of milky, deadly-sweet cups of tea. So, it's strange to read that our love affair with the beverage began earnestly only in the 1950s when the Indian Tea Board began a nationwide campaign.
Today, Indian varietals such as Assam, Darjeeling and those from the Nilgiri hills are sometimes consumed as are fine wines and indeed the proper appreciation of these leaves would be to drink them after a brief steeping and a dash of milk, much like our colonisers the British did when they first introduced tea in India in order to checkmate China’s monopoly in the trade.
Today, according to this presentation, India and China produce 60 percent of the world's tea with China churning out 1,623 thousand tons of the stuff while India cultivates 988 thousand tons of it. Yet, it is Kenya who is the top exporter of tea followed closely by China with Sri Lanka and India a distant third and fourth. That's of course simply because India consumes a huge amount of what it produces.
So, if you're in some far-flung part of the world and are desperate for Indian tea that is fresh, you may want to checkout Teabox, an unusual e-commerce enterprise that has, according to it, delivered over five million cups of Indian tea, and exported it to over 65 countries.
Teabox's CEO Kaushal Dugar, who was previously a corporate finance number cruncher at KPMG Singapore and whose whose family had been associated with the tea business for the last 40 years, says that the reason why Indian tea may not be so widely consumed worldwide as it should be is because there are a limited number of importers and distributors who inturn bring in a limited selection. And if you really love your tea, you're not going to settle for something that's been in a box for six months.
Therefore, Kaushal Dugar apparently figured that there was a market for top quality Indian tea if he did it right. This meant hand picking the best teas by working closely with tea garden owners, setting up a first rate logistics operation which would process and pack tea packets and boxes quickly and well, and using the best courier service to execute shipments after figuring out which delivery would be the speediest for that address.
Teabox says that it delivers fresh tea to its customers within a week or less than production which is why tea lovers around the world seem to be willing to pay to have it couriered to them.
So far, it is unclear how much money the company makes and what its margins are to gauge how it’s doing. However, in a world where a company's promising fortunes are easily disrupted by another thanks to a better technology or supply chain or just might—behemoth Tata, which is in the tea business could steamroll them if they decided the international market for Indian tea was worth getting into—Teabox needs to be on its toes.
Until then, it promises to be one of the first models that aims to disrupt a US$40 billion industry while pleasing the palettes of tea lovers around the world.