A Shot In The Arm : Uzma Irfan

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A prominent young name in the real estate industry, Uzma Irfan is a lady who dons distinct hats. The director at real estate giant Prestige Group is the editor of two publications. Besides handling the promotional activities for South India’s biggest luxury shopping destination, The Collection – UB City, she is also the force behind Bengaluru’s leading venue for all things art, namely Sublime Galleria. Her entrepreneurial zest has taken several strides in Sublime, with the brand extending to include Sublime Media Buying, Sublime Event Management and now the Sublime House of Tea (SHOT), that sees Uzma in the role of an effervescent ‘teapreneur’. In a tete-a-tete with RITZ over a steaming hot cuppa, the dynamic lady spells out her plans with her tea venture, while reminiscing moments from her recently-concluded art extravaganza.

Photographs: Faheem Hussain

She leads us into her sparkling art gallery, perched high at Bengaluru’s upscale UB City that offers spectacular views of the garden city.  At the far end of the gallery, under the glitter of chandeliers, are signs of Uzma Irfan’s newest venture.

“Our portfolio of fine tea presents a mix of the classical, the popular and the avant-garde,” she says, pointing towards the well stacked packets of green tea, Assam tea, and intriguing brews like Moroccan mint, Seventh Heaven, white tea with raspberry, chamomile, herbal tea and other exotic flavours to suit different palates.

“Apart from our flavours, what makes our Sublime brand of tea distinct is that it is packed in pyramid tea bags, rather than the usual filter paper bags. This enhances the flavour and aroma of the tea by bringing out the fullness of the liquor,” reveals Uzma.

It was in 2013 that she started the Sublime House of Tea, upon realising that Indian tea consumption is not as vibrant as our production. “Abroad, our Assams and Darjeelings are really valued. The idea was to popularise local flavours back in our own country. Sublime has 12 flavours, each with its own set of properties and health benefits. The trend of sipping flavourful cups of niche varieties is slowly picking up in Bengaluru, compared to earlier when it was mainly the ‘chai’ that held sway.” The brand sources its produce from across the world, with the base being Indian, which is Assam or Darjeeling.

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“The idea was to popularise local flavours back in our own country. Sublime has 12 flavours of tea, each with its own set of properties and health benefits”

She has made the Sublime brand available at gourmet food stores, supermarkets, cafes and luxury hotels apart from retailing online.” Going ahead, Uzma is keen to add flavours such as peppermint, ginger mint, decaf strawberry, green sencha, Kashmiri kawah, cranberry mango mania, oolong peach and rooibos vanilla to her bouquet of tea offerings.

She has plans afoot of perhaps starting a boutique “where people can come, relax with a Sublime cup, experience our flavours and brewing, buy what they want and get a holistic tea experience.”

Also on the cards are accessories such as the China cup, stirrers with sugar or other relevant paraphernalia for her tea-drinking experience.

“We want to be the leading tea brand across India and also in the overseas markets,” she says. So which countries would Sublime specifically eye? “There is demand coming in from the UAE and the Middle East. We could also look at Singapore, even though it has TWG tea.”

Amidst a plethora of work, where does Uzma’s real passion lie? “My passion is my work,” she says with authority. “I wake up each day with a new idea and wherever I can, I try to bring in a change and put a smile on people’s faces.”

Something she really works to do at Prestige is to “add prestige to our stakeholders lives. That’s one of my key goals at the group. Whoever comes in contact with Prestige should be happy. When it comes to our property buyers, we ensure that they get a complete experience. We look towards building fruitful relationships with our customers.” And her goal as a teapreneur? “Is to make Sublime the most well-recognised tea brand for its flavours and quality.”

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