Guwahati-based start-up giving ‘ek chai dena’ a new definition

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Guwahati-based start-up giving ‘ek chai dena’ a new definition

Nehal Jain | July 20, 2018 16:40 hrs

GUWAHATI: Getting premium quality tea delivered at your doorstep is no longer a far-fetched idea. Namhah, a Guwahati based start-up, offers over 16 varieties of premium tea that can be ordered from every nook and corner of the country. Available on their official website as well as other e-commerce websites like Amazon and Snapdeal, Namhah offers some of the rarest available teas including the White Tea, the Oolong Tea and other flavoured teas. It is also the sole supplier of non-alcoholic Wine Tea in Guwahati.

28-year-old Ankit Baid launched Namhah in 2016 along with his friend Abhishek Chowdhury. The idea of selling specialty tea online came when the duo visited a tea-exclusive cafe in Delhi and found that the quality of tea wasn’t up to the mark. Further, premium quality teas were available at very high costs making them inaccessible to the masses. So they launched an online platform with the aim to provide garden fresh teas to people all over the country and across the continents at reasonable rates.

Ankit later roped in Aditya Agarwal and Ramesh Mundhra as core team members. While Aditya, who is Namhah’s investor and marketing partner, comes from a family that has worked in the tea industry for more than a century, Ramesh is a tea broker and taster with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. Namhah also raised an undisclosed amount of private investment during a tea expo held in Guwahati in April 2018.

Currently, Namhah Tea is run by a nine-member team, including the founder and marketing agents. 

Namhah brings to its customers the rarest and the finest teas from some of the most elite gardens in India. Each tea is selected in person for its unique characteristic. These teas are produced in very small quantities and are most often handpicked by experts. The utmost care dedicated to the production and packaging results in impeccable perfection and exclusivity. Namhah Tea is carefully packaged in tin boxes and delivered within two-three days of receiving the order. 

“Tea available in the market in the form of tea bags is not of the best quality because they use Golden Orange Fanning (GOF) grade teas which are nothing but dust. Instead, we sell fresh, loose leaves packaged in tin boxes along with DIY tea bags,” said Ankit Baid, co-founder and CEO of Namhah.

Apart from selling over 16 different varieties of premium loose tea leaves that are sourced from boutique gardens in top tea destinations like Assam, Darjeeling, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, Namhah also offers 12 different tea blends that claim to be naturally blended with sterilised herbs and flowers without any artificial flavouring. The platform also provides monthly and yearly subscription plans that promise to surprise tea lovers every month.

Namhah mostly caters to the upper middle and elite classes. Ankit informed G Plus that the company has a zero delivery charge policy in Guwahati and they’re currently providing tea to over 40 regular customers here including restaurants, hotels and retail outlets. Claiming to have served over a million cups of tea in the past couple of years, Ankit further added that about 80% of their customers place repeat orders. While they are currently only delivering pan India, a lot of their clients are based abroad, which is why they’re planning to take Namhah global and start exporting specialty teas. 

Whilst CTC Assam Tea and Green Tea remain the highest selling varieties, Rose Ooling Tea and White Tea are among the highest selling premium teas of Namhah. Speaking to G Plus, Ankit informed, “Over the years, people have become much more health conscious. They only want the best for their health and skin and White Tea serves both the purpose. It is one of the purest forms of tea, difficult to find in the market and very expensive compared to other teas.”

India is the second largest tea producer in the world and while a substantially higher population of our country consumes tea instead of coffee, coffee was more easily accessible until a few years ago. There were a number of coffee retail outlets like Cafe Coffee Day, Cafe Mocha, Barista and Starbucks. But, there were hardly any tea-specific outlets until recently. With places like Chaayos, Chai Point and Tea Trails, the trend of tea boutiques and tea lounges has started to pick pace in the metro cities but it’s yet to catch up in Guwahati. However, Ankit is looking to set up small tea lounges and tea stores across India, aimed at delivering teas fast and fresh.

Starting up in Guwahati, where the early-stage start-up ecosystem prevails, wasn’t a cakewalk for the team. From finding a location to procuring the license, everything was very difficult. “We faced difficulty in finding a location to operate from due to the high costs of property in the city. Further, since people from the region were not selling on e-commerce platforms until then, finding a shipping partner was a task on its own. We also could not find proper packaging facilities in Guwahati and we have to export all raw materials from other parts of the country,” Ankit emphasised on the problems Namhah faced as a start up.

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