Chai Pe Charcha: Meet 14 Startups Stirring Up The Indian Tea Landscape

Chai Pe Charcha: Meet 14 Startups Stirring Up The Indian Tea Landscape


More than 150 years later, India is not only the second-largest producer of tea but also the top tea-exporting and drinking country in the world

IMARC Group sees India's flourishing tea market growing at a CAGR of 3.2% to $14.7 Bn by 2032 from $11.1 Bn in 2023

On this International Tea Day, let’s take a look at the 14 tea brands that are disrupting the Indian tea market

Despite the country’s more than a century-old tryst with tea, many of us may not know that the British first started cultivating it in India in the 1850s to end China’s dominance in the tea trade.

More than 150 years later, India is not only the second-largest producer of tea but also the top tea-exporting and drinking country in the world. Notably, the nation’s tea production grew to 1,374.97 Mn kgs in 2022-23 from 1,344.40 Mn kgs in 2021-22.

Reading the tea leaves, IMARC Group sees India’s flourishing tea market growing at a CAGR of 3.2% to $14.7 Bn by 2032 from $11.1 Bn in 2023.

Aiming to establish themselves in the ever-flourishing Indian tea market are the country’s new-age founders, who have formed a beeline to serve the Indian palate with more than just a refreshing cuppa tea.   

However, much to their chagrin, these aspirations had to undergo the litmus test during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the economy came to a screeching halt due to multiple lockdowns.

Surprisingly, much has changed since the impact of the pandemic has waned. 

While Chaayos clocked a 77% year-on-year (YoY) rise in operating revenue to INR 239 Cr in the financial year 2022-23 (FY23), Bengaluru-based Chai Point is looking to go public amid the startup IPO spring. And this is just for starters. 

The space is also witnessing the rise of several local homegrown D2C brands that are looking to break into the Indian tea market, which is dominated by legacy FMCG giants. The unique selling proposition (USP) of these emerging players is the quality, farm-freshness and a plethora of offerings, beyond a regular cup of chai tea. 

Packing storm in a tea cup, these D2C tea brands grace Indian kitchen shelves, piggybacking on the growing adoption of online marketplaces, rising disposable incomes, and Indians willing to experiment beyond the standard CTC (crush tear curl) breed.

Consequently, an increasing number of tea brands have emerged out of the shadows and investors too seem enthusiastic about their prospects. A case in point has been Dorje Teas, which featured on popular TV show Shark Tank Season 2 last year and snapped up a three-shark deal from Anupam Mittal, Peyush Bansal and Vineeta Singh.

More recently, Bengaluru-based QSR chain Boba Bhai raised funds at a valuation of INR 50 Cr, barely a year into its inception.  

Realising the potential of this burgeoning space, Inc42 has collated a list of top Indian D2C tea brands that are shaking up the Chai landscape.

Therefore, on this International Tea Day (May 21), let’s take a look at the 14 tea brands that are stirring up the Indian tea market.

(Note: The list below is not meant to be a ranking of any kind. We have listed the Indian tea startups in alphabetical order.)

1. Aromica Tea

After working with the UK-based tea producer McLeod Russel for nearly two decades, Ranjit Baruah launched Aromica Tea in 2018. Based in Guwahati, Aromica Tea offers about 26 tea blends, including six Assam varieties, through its online portal. 

The startup initially debuted five blends at the India International Tea & Coffee Expo in Kolkata in 2018. 

Now, it sees healthy sales online. However, Aromica Tea not only sells directly to consumers but also engages in retail and bulk sales through a distribution network. Its user base includes Guwahati refinery, OIL, IIE, various departmental stores in Assam, and corporates.

2. Chaayos

Founded by IIT graduates Nitin Saluja and Raghav Verma in 2012, Chaayos now creates a Starbucks-like chai experience for Indian consumers. The Delhi NCR-based tea cafe chain has over 225 stores across India. 

Initially a tea startup, Chaayos expanded to offer freshly made and packaged food, building a supply chain for snacks and launching a food cloud kitchen brand to recover from the impact of the lockdown-induced pandemic.

In FY23, Chaayos reported a 77% year-on-year (YoY) increase in operating revenue, reaching INR 239 Cr. Backed by investors such as Tiger Global Management, Eleven Capital, and Think Investments, the startup has raised $85.54 Mn since its inception. Chaayos competes with Chai Point, Chai Sutta Bar, MBA Chaiwala, Starbucks, Third Wave Coffee, and Blue Tokai.

3. Chai Sutta Bar

Founded by Anubhav Dubey and Anand Nayak in 2016, Chai Sutta Bar is an Indore-based startup that specialises in kulhad (earthen cup) chai. Since its inception, it has grown to over 550 outlets in 320 cities across India. 

Chai Sutta Bar sells an average of 4.5 Lakh kulhad chai of different flavours, including adrak, elaichi, chocolate, rose, paan, and kesar. 

In FY23, the bootstrapped startup reported a revenue of INR 10 Cr, while its franchises generated INR 150 Cr.

4. Chaipatty Teafe

Founded by Delhi College of Engineering (DCE) graduate Chirag Yadav in 2010, Chaipatty Teafe offers a unique experience for tea lovers, serving freshly made kulhad chai and cutting chai with snacks.

The tea chain, whose name is a combination of tea and cafe, also functions as a mini art studio, featuring jewellery and home decor items, and hosting workshops on photography, filmmaking, pottery, and bartending. It claims to have served over 5 Lakh customers through its three outlets.

Headquartered in Bengaluru, the bootstrapped Chaipatty Teafe competes with Chai Point, Chaayos, Chai Kings, Chaiwaale, and Tea Trails.

5. Chai Point

Founded by Amuleek Singh Bijral in 2010, Chai Point aimed to be the go-to tea destination for corporate employees. Inspired by Starbucks, it opened stores at retail locations, airports, and business parks, all while expanding across major cities. 

Its primary product is a fresh-milk-based dispenser platform, an IoT-enabled automated tea and coffee dispenser. 

Besides, Chai Point has also diversified into various channels, including local stores and cloud kitchens. 

To date, the Bengaluru-based startup has raised a total of $46 Mn from investors like Saama Capital, Eight Road Ventures, and InnoVen Capital. In FY23, Chai Point’s revenue from operations stood at INR 200 Cr, up 88.7% from INR 106 Cr in FY22.

6. Dorje Teas

Founded in 2021 by Sparsh Agarwal and Ishaan Kanoria, Dorje Teas is a wellness tea brand, which offers single-origin organic black, green, and herbal teas certified by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture). 

The brand sells traditional specialty teas through its website as well as ecommerce and quick-commerce platforms. It also has a minor offline presence. Under its “Make Your Own Blend” service, the brand allows tea lovers to create unique blends by choosing different tea flavours.

Its claim to fame was an INR 30 Lakh cheque it bagged from’s Anupam Mittal, Lenskart’s Peyush Bansal and Sugar’s Vineeta Singh in Shark Tank India’s Season 2.

The startup reported INR 1.3 Cr in revenue for FY23. In FY24, it claims to have achieved a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) of INR 30 Lakh.

7. Gardner Street

Founded in 2017 by Rashi Singhvi, Gardner Street is an experimental tea brand that offers premium whole leaf teas and herbs. The Mumbai-based startup provides a variety of tea products, featuring natural and therapeutic ingredients like cinnamon, hibiscus, rose petals, and lemongrass. 

With its unique blend of ingredients, the startup sells 25 tea blends. The brand also offers gifting solutions and accessories for brewing. 

Gardner Street is bootstrapped and competes with brands like Teahouse, Vahdam, and Brewhouse Tea.

8. No. 3 Clive Road

After a two-decade career in economics and finance in the US, Radhika Chopra returned to India to launch a D2C tea brand, No. 3 Clive Road, named after the address where her father was born.

The New Delhi-based startup sources full-leaf teas and uses natural ingredients to offer 29 premium tea recipes on its online platform.

Many of their blends are named after historical Indian cities, such as the Jaipur blend, a heady mix of Assam tea, cocoa, dried orange, and rose petals, or the Aurangzeb blend, which combines ginger and cardamom with hints of rose, jasmine, and marigold.

9. Teabox

Founded in 2013 by Kausshal Dugar, the Bengaluru-based premium tea brand focusses on the vertical integration of sourcing, branding and distributing teas.

Its product portfolio includes black, white, green and oolong teas that come in different flavours such as cinnamon, ginger, jasmine, fennel and rose.

The Siliguri-based online tea retailing startup works with around 200 plantations in Darjeeling, Assam, Sikkim, and Meghalaya to ship to more than 125 countries from its warehouses in just seven days.

Teabox, which counts Accel Partners, NB Ventures, Ratan Tata, and Robert M. Bass, among its backers, has raised over $13 Mn in funding to date.

It competes against the likes of Vahdam, Brewhouse Tea and Blue Tea.

10. Tearaja

Founded by Manish Jain in 2015, Tearaja claims to have sold over 100 Mn cups of teas worldwide since inception. Coming from a family possessing an over two decade experience in the tea business, Jain established the brand with an INR 10 Lakh loan from his family.

The D2C startup procures tea from gardens situated in Kolkata and Darjeeling within days of production and employs a five step testing process to ensure freshness of their end-product. 

Since going digital in 2015, the tea brand claims that it has been consistently growing 1.5X to 2X every year. In FY21, Tearaja shipped approximately 18K units of premium tea and closed FY22 with 30K units shipped, registering a whopping 66% increase.

11. Tea Trunk

Launched in 2013 by “tea sommelier” Snigdha Manchanda, Tea Trunk is a premium D2C tea brand that sells a collection of 65 different tea blends on its own platform. 

The D2C brand sources tea leaves directly from farmers and then blends them in small batches for its end customers. What sets Tea Trunk apart is the claim that its offerings are quality-focussed yet affordable, and are priced in the range of INR 200 to INR 2,000.

It also claims that its products use natural ingredients and are free from flavours. With stockists spanning the globe, the company exports its tea bags to over 15 countries. 

It sells its products both via ecommerce platforms as well as its one website. Tea Trunk last raised $220K in an angel round in 2020, which saw participation from ex-OYO senior executive Mandar Vaidya, former Delhivery executive Vaibhav Suri, among others. 

12. The Hillcart Tales Tea

With a legacy of more than 120 years, The Hillcart Tales traces its origins back to the 19th century when an Indian entrepreneur Ashutosh Ghosh launched his venture of handcrafted blends in Calcutta.

A century later in 2016, his great-grandson Ambarish Ghosh reinvigorated the brand by launching a D2C offshoot under the same name. 

Leveraging its years of expertise in the tea business, the Ghosh-led D2C tea brand directly procures tea leaves from auctions and select gardens after thoroughly examining their suppleness and freshness.  

It sells its products both on its own website as well as ecommerce marketplaces such as Amazon and BigBasket. Since taking the D2C route, the company now sells over 32 blends that are packaged in multiple combinations to customers in over 50 countries. 

13. Udyan Tea

Founded in 2012 by Punit Poddar, along with Soveet Gupta and Parvez Gupta, Udyan Tea offers premium tea, teaware customised gifting solutions and B2B tea consultancy services.

The Siliguru-based startup caters to customers in more than 40 countries. The startup claims to have sold over 20 Mn cups of tea to date through its website and other online channels.

Udyan has an impressive collection of over 100 finest teas handpicked from top tea gardens in India and Nepal. It also offers functional tea blends concocted from more than 50 natural ingredients. 

From its humble beginnings, Udyan has expanded into several Tier I cities in India. It also sells its products in the US, Russia and a few Asian countries.

14. Vahdam Teas

Bala Sarda, a fourth-generation entrepreneur from a family that has been in the tea business for 85 years, set up D2C tea brand Vahdam India in 2015.

Cut to 2024, Vahdam is credited with taking ‘Made in India’ tea global, and it now competes with global brands, including Starbucks’ subsidiary Teavana and Twinings Tea in international stores.

The Indian tea brand has presence in 100+ countries and has received endorsement from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneres and Mariah Carey. In 2022, Vahdam also became the first Indian wellness brand to be a part of the Oscars goodie bag.

The startup achieved profitability in FY21 with a net revenue of over INR 160 Cr. Vahdam was valued at INR 700 Cr after its last fundraise in 2021.

(Note: This is a running article, we will keep adding more names to the list.)

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