Meet the Maker: Radhika Batra Shah – Radhika’s Fine Teas

Radhika's Fine Teas describe themselves as India’s finest, purest, plantation-fresh, handcrafted, 100% organic tea company. They are based out of Bombay. We invite you to get to know them better.

Radhika’s Fine Teas describe themselves as India’s finest, purest, plantation-fresh, handcrafted, 100% organic tea company. They are based out of Bombay.

Radhika’s Fine Teas was founded by Radhika Batra Shah, India’s most celebrated tea sommelier.

To help you get to know our Makers better, as part of our long running Meet the Maker series of conversations, we asked Radhika about her brand, passion, and vision. It made for interesting reading.

We invite you to the conversation.

Radhika Batra Shah

Radhika Batra Shah

What were you doing before you started doing this?

After completing an MBA, I began my career with the advertising agency McCan Erickson in Client Servicing and Strategy. At McCann, I worked on prestigious brands like Reckit Coleman, Columbia Tristar, and L’Oréal, to name a few.

From McCann, I went on to work with the Tatas, where I was part of the team focussed on their retail business, TRENT. Here Radhika worked under and with fabulous leaders like Simone Tata, Noel Tata, and team, to launch the chain of Westside stores across India.

 I have garnered experience and built expertise in everything from Market Research to PR to Advertising to brand shoots with celebrity ambassadors. After deep dives into almost all aspects of Marketing, thanks to these two companies in a span of 5 years, I felt ready to launch and take the plunge into something of my own. This led to Radhika’s Fine Teas.

 

Why did you choose to do what you do?

Tea was never served or brewed right in India. I spotted an immense opportunity to pursue my passion for the brew and start a business in this space.

Furthermore, it irked me no end to drink sweetened, milky chai, while the West had access to the finest tea leaves from India. I hungered for the best of our teas. I wished to drink the same fine teas that were being exported to others. I wanted to offer the domestic market much better than the cheap dust chai it was being served. So I left the corporate world to become a tea sommelier and start the country’s first luxury organic tea brand. 

I believe my brand was born way before time, as early as 2006, a time when people barely knew much beyond strong, milky dust chai. I took it upon myself to propagate the virtues and benefits of  organic tea grown with sustainable practices. I am glad I did. To date, we are scrupulously loyal to our vision of selling clean teas that have a health benefit and are 100% certified organic. What’s more, I most certainly do not crave to be a commercial juggernaut and sell tons of conventional teas that are inferior in quality and do not promote wellness..

We are fascinated by names. What’s the story behind your brand name?

Radhika Fine Teas & whatnots took off with my name.

The story behind it goes like this: while I was busy educating my target audience about the goodness of the humble leaf by pioneering tea ceremonies, people started relating to our authenticity and our humble, passionate attempts to help know tea better. During this time, we were invited by the gourmet store, Godrej Natures Basket, to start our signature line.

At the same time, we were advised by our well-wishers to start our retail line and name it after the founder – as they saw immense credibility in the name and the equity it would add to the brand. This is how, and why, we got our name – the whatnots is an extension of our tea story. Anything that compliments tea is a whatnot i.e. teaware, tea experiences, tea bars, high tea parteas, and tea gifting.

Which are your best-selling products?  

Since I’m a tea sommelier and partner with the premium organic gardens of India, it’s easy for me to curate a tea blend as per your needs.

Many of our best sellers have come about in response to a need that demanded a curated offering. Our most popular creations are listed below.

Turmeric Tulsi Liquorice, our detox tea, is a tea blend developed for an international hotel chain. It is one of our top seller. Mukhwas chai is a digestive tea and accompaniment to fine dining. It is our top trending chai. White leaf and Rose Green are two more well-received teas in our stable of blends. Also, our combo series of handcrafted gift boxes are a super hit as festival, birthday, and wedding gifts. In addition, I invite you to introduce yourself to the Crafted collection, a box of 5 whole leaf organic Darjeeling teas for the connoisseur. Then there is the Holiday series, a box of 5 blended organic Darjeeling teas for people on-the-go. Last but far from least, we have a box of the Healing Chai’s of India, which contains 5 organic Assam teas for lovers and aficionados of great tea.

What kind of people do you create your products for? 

For people who love chai, but are forced to imbibe unhealthy teas infused with lead and colour, we have supreme, singular, healthier teas. For lovers of fine teas who don’t know where to get the superior stuff from, we are here for you. Finally, young tea drinkers that wish to cultivate a fine and healthy tea-drinking habit should try us.

What are the challenges you face in connection with achieving your goals?

The Indian market is still learning and adapting to choosing the right quality of leaf, the correct way to brew it, and other aspects of tea culture. As a brand of tea that is truly pure and promotes wellness, it’s a challenge to persuade the customer to change long-held perceptions and instill better tea-drinking habits. That said, a change is coming, even if slowly. We are extremely optimistic.

Where do you see your brand three years from now?

I see my teas educating and expanding the market. I see Radhika’s Fine Teas becoming an affordable and much-loved purveyor of organic teas. I also envision my teas going international, being appreciated in many countries, and contributing with pride to supporting the idea of made well in India  

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?

In a space that is about flavours is what I’d be immersed in, if not this. Perhaps I’d be into spices or fragrances or something sensual, innovative, and committed day in and day out to new product development.

Visit the Radhika’s Fine Tea Shop on Engrave

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.

1 Comment

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    Floranet December 26, 2019

    You rock with your writing!! Spectacular one for sure.

    Reply

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