You might be a tea person or a coffee person – the divide is clear, but what is important here, is that everyone needs a cuppa in the morning to shake off the grogginess and begin conquering the world. The average young working professional today needs their shot of caffeine, and like, haldi doodh and kale-and-quinoa salads, millennials are also likely to prefer a slightly spruced up morning drink.
Thankfully, in the past decade, a bunch of Indian entrepreneurs have conceived brands that serve handcrafted and exotic blends to make things easier for all of us in our quest for new flavours. If you find yourself pining for the subtle hint of cardamom and orange in your coffee, or wonder what your tea would taste like if it had a touch of passion flowers, you need not look further.
No, eating local – when it comes to chai-kaffee – no longer means slurping away with a cup of kulhad chai or filter coffee in your hands. Across the Indian subcontinent, brands with newer mindsets have managed to tap into the thrill-seeking and experimental young crowd’s desire for food and drinks with character, with their excellent, conscientious and imaginative blends.
Take your pick from this list of homegrown tea and coffee brands in the country!
1. The Good Life Co. (TGL Co.)
Co-founded in 2016 by young entrepreneurs Bhuman Dani and Shariq Ashraf, TGL Co. is known for its flavour-packed and quality tea blends. They offer a wide range of combinations made using tea leaves, fruits and flowers sourced from around the world, including Sri Lanka, Russia and Taiwan.
Reminiscent of a mango candy, their signature blend, Mogo Mogo, comprises passion flowers, banana, mango and melon. In 2019, the brand also forayed into the premium coffee business with four collections - international, Indian, flavoured and instant coffee, and the last one definitely has our vote.
Where to buy: www.tglcompany.com
2. No.3 Clive Road
A boutique luxury tea brand, No.3 Clive Road is helmed by New Delhi-based tea collector Radhika Chopra. The company is named after her father’s birthplace and they specialise in hand-blended teas, made using local tea leaves, herbs, flowers and spices.
Their popular blends include Mughal Delhi-inspired Aurangzeb, which contains rose, jasmine and marigold, and Jodhpur, made by combining blue cornflower petals, inspired by the blue pigment on the walls surrounding the Mehrangarh Fort.
Where to buy: www.threecliveroad.com
3. Anandini Himalaya Tea
Anandini Himalaya Tea is tea sommelier and second-generation tea producer, Anamika Singh’s brainchild. Launched in 2013, the luxury tea brand prides itself in producing superior quality speciality teas with leaves sourced from the hills of Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, and flowers and spices from parts of South India.
One of the highlights of Anandini Himalaya is its Fairytale tea that consists of autumn black tea, cornflower, rhododendron flowers, chamomile and berries.
Where to buy: www.anandinihimalayatea.com
4. Vahdam Teas
Fourth-generation entrepreneur, Bala Sarda, started Vahdam Teas in 2015 with the sole purpose of redefining the way the world looked at Indian tea. You can find all kinds of blends under this banner including black, oolong, white, herbal and speciality, which are ethically sourced from Darjeeling, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Sikkim.
In addition to these, Vahdam also offers turmeric superfood elixirs and exquisite tea sets, alongside a monthly subscription service that picks out five surprise teas for you. Fun fact: Ellen DeGeneres swears by their brews, too.
Where to buy: www.vahdamteas.in
This five-year-old brand was founded by tea curator Shivani Chakravarty after she travelled to the Far East about a decade ago and discovered the myriad flavours of green tea. Chakravarty’s aim with this premium tea brand is to introduce newer blends with distinctive aromas and flavours and make tea-drinking a luxurious experience.
Varieties of oolong, white, black, green and herbal teas are on offer at Exalté. Their apple cinnamon sangria blend, a revitalising mix of green tea, apple and cinnamon, is one of the most popular.
Where to buy: www.exaltetea.com
6. Araku Coffee
It is not every day that a product wins a geographical indication (GI) tag. But Araku Coffee, established in 2001 by Manoj Kumar and David Hogg, managed to do so with their uniqueness and quality. It has six different types of aromatic coffee that are organically grown and processed by tribal farmers in the eponymous valley located in the northeastern reaches of Andhra Pradesh. The brand has introduced four customised variants – signature, selection, microclimate and grand reserve.
Where to buy: www.arakucoffee.in
7. Black Baza
Started off as a conservation project by Arshiya Bose, Black Baza is a gourmet beverage company that works with tribal farmers to produce Arabica and Robusta beans, which are biodiversity-friendly. Their beans are micro-roasted and custom ground to ensure the best quality coffee for its consumers.
Black Baza, which is named after a bird of prey found in the coffee-growing Western Ghats, sells six varieties of coffee and their two popular blends include Luna Roast and the Aspire to Otter.
Where to buy: www.blackbazacoffee.com
8. Blue Tokai
Co-founded by Matt Chitharanjan and Namrata Asthana, Blue Tokai was born out of the need for some good, freshly roasted Arabica coffee in Delhi. They started the company in 2013 after they shifted to Delhi from Chennai and noticed a dearth of good-quality coffee in north India.
Blue Tokai’s coffee comes in distinct flavours such as berries, nuts, cinnamon and caramel, and their unique selling point (USP) is that the coffee is roasted by order only.
Where to buy: www.bluetokaicoffee.com
9. Halli Berri
Co-run by four sisters—Nalima, Anusha, Tejini and Manavi Kariappa, Halli Berri takes pride in its single-origin, 100 per cent Arabica coffee that comes with a honeydew flavour. The beans are sustainably farmed and handpicked from the Kariappa family’s plantation in Chikmagalur, which has been with them for over six generations. According to Halli Berri, the honeydew flavour comes from the iron-rich soil of their plantations.
Where to buy: www.halliberri.com
10. The Flying Squirrel
Bengaluru-based The Flying Squirrel is helmed by a third-generation coffee farmer, Tej Thammaiah and an advertising professional, Ashish D’Abreo. Most of their beans come from Thammaiah’s 150-acre estate in Coorg and the brand offers a total of 11 different types of coffee.
This gourmet brand’s menu changes with seasons and their bestsellers include Parama, which has notes of chocolate, and Sunkissed Brew, which has a citrusy flavour.
Where to buy: www.flyingsquirrel.in