Octavius Tea: Serving up fine brews for over a century

One of India’s oldest tea companies, Octavius Tea, has been in business for nearly 120 years now. TravelDine catches up with CMO Ekta Jain for insight into India’s tea market, industry trends, the brand’s story and new monsoon collection.

Octavius Tea is one of India’s oldest tea trading companies, operational now for over a century. From establishing gardens during the British Raj to being managed by a company specialised in agro-commodities, the brand has come a long way, serving up brews to our tea-crazy nation.

Octavius tea
You might not need an occasion to drink tea but a cup of hot tea in the monsoon has its charm.

Tea – the magical leaf enjoyed by the teeming billions of India, whether it’s the morning cuppa to kick-start your day, the cutting chai on a short break in the middle of the work day, or the soothing brew to wind up a long, hard day. Now, you don’t really need an occasion for tea, nor do you need any particular kind of weather, tea has that wonderful quality of being a refreshing pick-me-up anywhere, anytime. But you have to admit, there’s something about sipping on a cup of hot tea as the heavens open up over the subcontinent during the monsoon. Not to mention the health benefits that come especially handy in a season that usually sees a rise in infections.

Tea products
Masala chai is definitely among the more popular flavours and versions of tea in India.

TravelDine caught up with Ekta Jain, CMO of Octavius Tea, to gain insight into the domestic tea market, the brand’s story and Octavius Tea’s new monsoon collection.

TD: Tell us about Octavius Tea’s story. How has the journey been since inception?

EJ: It all began, when a Scottish man named Walter Duncan arrived in Calcutta to set up businesses under the name of Playfair Duncan & Co. In 1898, enchanted by the flourishing slopes of Darjeeling, Duncan set up a tea trading company in India. Walter set up Octavius Tea & Industries Ltd, on the profits of its sister concern Octavius Steel and Co. Ltd, during the British Raj. In Darjeeling, across Dooars, Cachar and Sylhet, the company began cultivating the ancient magical brew – tea. After independence, an Indian trading company, steeped in generations of business expertise, took up the reins of the company while remaining under the original British flagship. Consequently, Octavius Tea combines respect for quintessential British tea with the Indian love for taste and flavour.

In 2003, Octavius Tea changed ownership to the current management, an expert in agro commodities. With intensive research on international tea markets and understanding tea choices in various countries, we became one of the biggest tea exporters in India. Encouraged by the success of the tea plantation in 2007, the company acquired an excellent coffee plantation in Kushalnagar, Coorg, and a coffee curing unit. Octavius Tea was set up for one victory after another.

“Octavius” as a brand on the online and retail platform was born in 2016 with a mission to epitomise the art of drinking gourmet teas and to make available the pure luxury of natural, home-grown, quality products in India and across the globe.

Tea gardens
Octavius Tea practices sustainable farming at its tea gardens.

TD: What are some of the prominent trends in the domestic tea industry currently?

EJ: We at Octavius Tea have studied the market extensively over centuries with our team of experts. As a result, we have observed what consumers want and what their needs are.

Yet, regardless of the present situation in which we find ourselves, tea has become an integral part of our lives when considering the health benefits it offers. It is unquestionably true that this green beverage has helped individuals establish a healthy lifestyle as well as adapt to it regularly. Here are a few of the key trends that we predict will be significant in the future.

● Wellness teas: As the present situation seems to call for a rise in health-consciousness, wellness, herbal, and immunity teas are relatively popular.

● Sustainable lifestyle: The concept of a sustainable lifestyle is gradually evolving among people concerning waste reduction, sustainable consumption, and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

● Gourmet tea and coffee: Over the past few years, people have started to love exploring and trying different flavours and super-food ingredients beneficial to their health.

● Recipe trends: Dalgona coffee, matcha recipes, and new iced teas and cocktails have all dominated the Recipe Trends table for 2020.

● Superfoods: Helps in boosting nutrition and immunity and are also high in antioxidants that protect your body from radicals and germs. An adequate intake of vitamins and minerals is vitally important for weight loss and reduces inflammation and boosts energy levels. Thus, good health comes from eating right!

By keeping up with current trends, we make sure that our products remain current. Our wellness tea collection offers a range of tea blends perfect for boosting your immunity, we have sustainable packaging in every product category, encouraging customers to upcycle and reuse our packaging, as well as offering our share for an eco-conscious environment. At the plantations, we practice sustainable farming. Alternatively, we offer an extensive selection of exotic gourmet tea blends featuring superfood ingredients for a healthier lifestyle.

TD: Tell us a little about the monsoon collection.

EJ: We’re in the thick of the monsoon, and we need to keep ourselves warm and build our immunity at the same time to prevent colds, coughs, and flu. We have a collection of seasonally appropriate herbal teas (kadha), green tea blends, and black tea blends filled with superfoods that boost immunity and are perfect for the monsoon season. To further enhance your experience and indulge in a healthy beverage, we would like to highlight some key advantages of our wellness monsoon tea collection:

●     Boosts immunity

●     Helps with weight-loss

●     Are rich in antioxidants

●     Refreshes the senses

●     Energises the body and mind

●     Soothes and relaxes

For the rainy season, we recommend our bestselling blends such as Indian Masala Tea, Lemon Green Tea, Kashmiri Kahwa Green Tea, and instant tea mixes made with the goodness of Indian spices.

Tea processing centre
The company’s experience of 120 years helps it come up with new launches that are in tune with relevant trends.

TD: What are the processes involved in launching such a collection?

EJ: At Octavius Tea, our expert team is highly knowledgeable about the key benefits and needs required during each season and for each flavour that we introduce. A carefully researched blend is made by extensively researching market trends and season preferences. To make our products even better, we make sure to use the ingredients that are most suitable for the season and provide the optimal benefits for the product. Even though every blend comes with its own flavour and taste, it is beneficial to keep up with the trends as well. This is why our expert team looks forward to experimenting with new flavours and blends, keeping the consumer’s needs in mind.

TD: Gourmet teas have become quite a thing with consumers. How are you poised to capitalise on this trend?

EJ: By working with a team of expert flavour masters and blenders, we have mastered the art of producing fine tea. We keep true to our 120-year-old tradition of providing our customers with the finest tea possible. The experts at Octavius Tea are constantly researching and creating new gourmet blends to add to our tea collection.

TD: What are your plans going ahead?

EJ: We aim to expand our product range by leveraging our expertise in agro commodities. It is our goal to provide a variety of healthy consumables such as rice, spices, pulses and gourmet seeds, among others.

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