The moment she stepped into Bengaluru from West Bengal as a young bride, she was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug that had mesmerised the Silicon City for much of this decade. Tea was what she eyed with concentration, having grown up close to the verdant gardens that the eastern state is famous for. After having sipped some of the finest blends back home, Pritika Agarwal felt the need to introduce individuals in her new city to the fine and luxe experience of tea appreciation. Over a chat with RITZ, she unravels the concept behind TeaBrew and her passion for India’s favourite beverage.
Situated on the ground floor of a 2400 square feet bungalow in the cool hangout zone of Indiranagar in Bengaluru is TeaBrew, an 80-seater tea room-cum-restaurant. Freshly painted in pastels with a dab of cobalt defining the doorway, TeaBrew appears chic with a set of hand-painted kettles, cups and kullads neatly arranged in one corner. As Pritika Agarwal ushers in her guests with some much-needed warmth and a big smile, you cannot help but ponder that there do exist places where the chief purpose is to provide an experience to customers.
“Our intention is to introduce people to different exotic teas and blends. Have them try out and get experimental and thoroughly relish every sip,” she says. After having researched for months together, her menu outlines exotic blends such as Earl Grey (a black orthodox tea blended with bergamot orange), Jasmine Pearl (green tea buds hand-rolled and infused with jasmine flowers), Gyukuro (a premium shaded green tea with a slight sweet taste), Silver Needle White (one of the rarest white teas made from handpicked tea buds that are plucked only two days in a year), Rooibos (a red coloured brew rich in antioxidants), Blooming Tea (a premium Chinese variety that has tea leaves hand-sewn around flowers into rosettes by artisans) and many more.
“We source our teas from China, Japan and the estates in Darjeeling and steadily keep adding newer varieties. Like recently, we had brought in green teas that were blended with dried peach and strawberries.”
Started in 2013, the journey for TeaBrew has been interesting with a few challenges here and there.
“Our two major challenges have been those related to manpower and customer expectations,” says Pritika. “Hiring, training and retaining the right kind of people is tough. It is also difficult to satisfy each customer with the food, the experience and ambience. We have learnt to be patient. You cannot expect profits to start kicking in from day one,” she says, adding that coaxing people to taste the unconventional blends also takes time, “as customers usually want to go in for something they have tried already, in this case the chai.”
TeaBrew now regularly holds tea tasting events where information is shared about the blends and their health benefits.
TeaBrew is bootstrapped, being funded from Pritika’s personal finances and is looking to strengthen their first outlet before planning any expansions
Unlike a lot of other ventures and entrepreneurs who chart out massive targets and numbers for growth and expansion, Pritika appears quite relaxed when asked about her plans ahead with TeaBrew. Quite a welcome breather in these competitive times! She says there are no specific (expansion) plans as of now. “We are just three years old and are looking to strengthen ourselves at this one outlet. We are gradually evolving by bringing in more blends. We could perhaps bring in a blend of herbal tea with more fruit flavours next. Beyond that we don’t really have much in the pipeline.” That’s because, she says TeaBrew was started purely due to her and her husband’s (the co-founder) love for tea and not with a particular financial goal in mind. “It was a thought that had come up to our minds and since Bengaluru is the place to try out new things, we decided to give it a shot. We just want to take it easy and want more people come here to experience our blends.” Though she does not disclose any financials, she says that TeaBrew is bootstrapped, being funded from her personal finances. “Till you try doing something different, you don’t really know how it will be. Our journey has been good and now we are sitting and thinking as to what else can be done,” says Pritika.
An avid traveller, who fondly recalls her visit to Turkey where she thrived on Turkish teas (like the famous peach and lemon tea), Pritika is now looking at paying the Assam gardens a visit. “I would want to get a little hands on with the farming and cultivation as well. Yes, it helps to indulge in these activities now that I’m closely involved with tea.”