But BK Saria, having a lineage of over 200 years in the making and selling of Darjeeling tea, is convinced that if he could make a success in Bangalore success is assured in rest of the country. Infinitea, the specialty tea shoppe from the house of Liquid Gold Pvt Ltd, the retailing arm of Gopaldhara Tea Estates has been launched in Bangalore with an aim to offer what is known as the champagne of teas for the Indian consumers.
Speaking to FE, Saria, owner and director, Gopaldhara Tea Estates, said, This is the first exclusive Darjeeling tea shop to be set up anywhere in the world. This tea room along with serving tea and retailing different varieties of Darjeeling Tea would also take the concept of tea drinking and the rich culture associated with it to Bangaloreans.
The decision to develop a domestic market for the authentic Darjeeling tea was prompted by the dwindling prices of Indian tea in the international market. Getting into Value added products was the only way out for the producers who were not getting the economic benefits attached with Darjeeling tea. Lack of unavailability of quality Darjeeling tea for Indian consumer despite the demand is the other major reason, he added.
According to Mr Saria, the average tea auction price has declined to Rs 128 per kg in 2002 from 167 in 1999. The only way to sustain the business to develop a domestic market, he added.
On the choice of Bangalore Mr Saria said, Bangloreans are open to innovations. Many innovative ideas started here Cafe Coffee day, Barista, Lipton Ice tea. We also followed the lead. Depending on the success of the flagship shop, Infinitea would be launching more outlets in the city and would be spreading out to other cities too. In each city we would have one company-owned flagship store and smaller outlets in strategic locations, which could either be owned by us or franchised, Mr Saria said. Pune is the next city under Mr Sarias radar.
Promising an experience in every sip Infinitea, offers around 50 to 60 varieties of tea-based beverages and snacks. Infinitea means infinite varieties of tea, said Liquid Gold director Gaurav Saria. This include specialty teas (hand processed) special teas (semi processed) and black tea which is the orthodox Darjeeling tea.
Infinitea also peddles a variety exotic teas like Stupa, Pearl Tea, White Tea, Silver Blossom, Dragon Pearl, Peony Rosette, etc. The price per cup ranges from Rs 29 to Rs 89 depending on the variety and quality of the tea.
However, the key focus of the shop is on the retail sales to make good quality Darjeeling tea leaves available to customers. Good Darjeeling tea is not readily available in India and there are people who regularly bring the tea from abroad. In Infinitea, a customer can buy tea leaves according to his requirement and taste. The price ranges from Rs 160 per kg to Rs 6,000 per kg.