FTB Stories

Herbal Tea Business in Aurangabad: It’s Production, Testing and Marketing

Amit Bhatt
Amit Bhatt
Abhishek Kumar

Herbal tea is catching up in India and is in great demand across the country. Young businessmen want to capture this market and make it their own. One of these is Abhishek Kumar, from Aurangabad in Bihar, owner of "teaTar" herbal tea brand. He was recently interviewed by Megha Sharma on the FTB platform of Krishi Jagran. He introduced himself as a farmer by profession and he saw the need of proper marketing of his products. He said he focused on supply to the market based on the demand for the product.

The product

Some years back he planted herbal plants and they were able to easily process them and supplied to some customers. He felt the need for a brand and they shortlisted the name "teaTar", after the birds that come to visit their farm lands. He showed us a packet of his product and they are following the standards for food safety and vegetarian products, and have indicated a green signal on the packaging to indicate this. They have listed the ingredients that make up the product and its chemical breakdown, which indicates its nutrition value. They have used transparent packaging on purpose so the buyers can see what they are buying.

At the moment there are over 250 producers of herbal tea, selling their products through different platforms on different channels. When he started the production 2 years back there was not much awareness about lemongrass as a herbal tea. There was no pandemic then and there was very less focus on immunity and detox. Initially they focused on educated customers, those buyers who were aware of the benefits of herbal tea. His herbal tea has 85 percent lemon grass, the smaller leaves are the 10 percent moringa leaves and rest of the 5 percent are tulsi (basil) leaves. These three have different qualities, for instance Lemongrass is anti-inflammatory and it can restrict the Corona infection spreading in your body. He is not recommending lemongrass as a drug but it's use can be very beneficial. It is anti-bacterial, diuretic, helps in controlling high blood pressure as well as cholesterol issues. We are all aware of the benefits of tulsi and its rate in the market has doubled, tripled in the pandemic. Society has fallen back on tulsi drops and other tulsi products. Moringa is rich in vitamins, essential amino acids and is popularly consumed as nutrition capsule. Their product is raw and preservative free. 

They mention on the packaging no added colour and no added preservatives, and their product is prepared totally naturally. Some people observed that the size of the chopped and dried leaves was a little big, to which he replies that with smaller size you will lose aroma and nutrition value goes down. The packet doesn’t expire for 15-20 months, from packaging, but they suggest to the buyers that it will last for 15. 

teaTar Herbal Tea

Testing and something different

When asked about the labs where the product was tested and the tests that took place, he said that National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), accredited labs did the testing for him. They tested for 3 things, firstly the dust component - if it’s there then how much of it is there, if there is no dust then how will this be maintained. Secondly, its tested for fungal and bacterial aspects and thirdly for the nutritional value of the product - calories content, Sodium, Iron, Zinc, potassium - minerals that help us immensely in maintaining our fitness. Zinc is regarded as important for improving immunity and they also identify the vitamins available and in what quantity in the product.

On how his brand different from other herbal tea brands, he replied that our packaging is done by a FPO, owned by someone in his local network. FPOs have been mentioned a lot by the PM and discussed by the government. In FPOs the farmers are an equal partner, although the organization may have the capital but the farmers have equal voting rights. If these FPOs do branding and marketing on your behalf, they are making significant investments. They invest in sampling and logistics. However the profits are equally divided between all partners unlike in other companies where the investors keep the profits. Secondly, he continues that his region specializes in paddy, and despite MSP they don't earn enough income, so they can invest their time and energy in other products like his. He does not give them dreams of multiplying their income but can suggest them crops that will give them profits of Rs 12,000-15,000-17,000 per acre. Thirdly the ingredients of his tea are capable of surviving adverse weather conditions. This saves the farmers from getting depressed as they don't have to worry about any such factors. So, this type of farming saves their life.

teTar at the stall

Marketing

Abhishek told that he sells his products through social media and his product has been listed on FlipKart through an FPO. He has considered his own website but found that it requires significant investment of time in website management and the financial sides. So, he has tied up with a website to promote and sell his products. He himself focuses on quality control of his product. He doesn't have a big factory or a huge processing unit, their process is simple and they are focusing on the sun-dried method. They check if the leaf has overdried or leaves are not of good quality, they destroy such leaves. In terms of business 90 percent of his buyers are traders. They don't control the quality, he does. He gives example of hibiscus tea, an associate product, at the moment he has his own hibiscus farms. But they are planning a model in which farmers will produce the hibiscus and deliver to them and they will sell these purchased items. He gives example of persons picking flowers from temples, drying them and selling them. For the temple authorities these flowers are a burden and they let anyone take these away. It's a dump for one but asset for the other. But what is being produced is not of confirmed quality.

He says he ensures and guarantees quality assurance for his products. The products are consistent and one lot will not be different from others, whether in terms of nutrition or other factors. He has been able to make most of his sales through social media from the beginning of his business- Facebook pages, WhatsApp groups. From every buyer they request references and they have some retail partners. Most of these partners contacted him to join him and his products are available at their stores. He has thanked them for joining him and requested them for contact in other cities where they can promote their brand and build a customer base. This is how we have progressed so far.

When asked if the farmers associated with him can sell their products independently, he replied in affirmative. Agents and those interested in direct marketing often contact the farmers and this is something that he encourages as it gives farmers different avenues for selling their produce. Some companies with nutrition products and Ayurvedic doctors also come to these farmers for the herbs. There are some leaf contributors who make good efforts to sell their products on their own.

User Experiences 

He was requested to share his product user's experiences or his business partners experiences with his product. He said he will describe some user experiences. He listed a number of users and how this tea benefitted them. One user bought his product prior to branding and they told him that it will solve his gas and digestion issues. They were selling their product at concession at a fair, he saw the price and called him saying that your product is too good and its price should not be reduced. This tea has helped a number of customers with their gas and digestion issues. Another customer was addicted to tea and he wanted to get rid of this addiction, we suggested our tea to him. The customer came in touch with him after a while and said his son had a problem of leaking water from his nose and you cannot diagnose it as cold or cough, it was probably allergy. He gave this tea to his son and he has healed completely. Another lady suffering with gas issues for last 6 years tried their tea and healed. He often receives calls from customers who are short on stock, requesting him for more, telling him that if they leave this tea for 2 days they will again have issues with digestion and gas. He said he does not advertise his product like an allopathic medicine which will heal you in a week or 10 days. This tea is like a normal and natural part of the diet and has no side effects. These are some of user experiences that we have shared with you.

The Future

On a question as to where does he see his brand in the next 5 years, Abhishek said he hopes to be in the best middle 10 level producers of herbal tea. He said to reach the top level you need to campaign a lot and a lot of money is needed. He doesn't want to be on the debt side of things and is focusing on cash and carry model. He is planning to have at least 10 categories of products (teas) which are already in the market and not any new innovations, like chamomile tea, rosemary tea. They are growing mint in their farms and they want to introduce a mint based cold drink in the market as a section of the market is keen on this. In the pandemic everyone is looking towards hot drinks and not cold, but a number of persons are inhaling mint with steam. Hence, they are planning to introduce a mint based product in the market which can be inhaled too. In terms of turnover, they are aiming for Rs. 50-60 Crores in next 5 year’s time. In the end he thanked Krishi Jagran for the platform to express his views and hopes the viewers will stay healthy and stay safe in the pandemic. Please click here to see the video

Abhishek Kumar

Abhishek Kumar

Aurangabad, Bihar

Herbal Tea Farmer - TEATER. Best Innovative Farmer Sabor 2014, Krishi Ratna 2016, Atal Mithila Samman 2019

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