How Tata Tea 1868, a specially curated limited edition of blends, is spotlighting the Tata legacy of 150 years and its role in India’s heritage for a global audience

The idea to create a unique tea experience to commemorate 150 years of the Tata group germinated in the office of Tata group Chairman N Chandrasekaran.

“We had to look at the idea from different perspectives — at a strategic level as to what marketing positioning we should take, from a group perspective to highlight the group’s strong Indian roots, and from a national perspective to showcase India’s history as a tea-drinking nation and its vast selection of tea blends,” says Sushant Dash, regional president for India and the Middle East at Tata Global Beverages (TGB).

After considering the wide choice of teas from across the length and breadth of the country, the TGB team finally selected three distinct flavours — the Organic Hathikuli, the Kashmiri Kahwa and the Masala Chai. They were labelled as Tata Tea 1868. “All three are rooted in the Indian ethos. We didn’t want an Earl Grey or English Breakfast. We wanted to show off the Indian tea heritage, while keeping in mind that we would be addressing a global palate,” says Mr Dash.

The Organic Hathikuli (Hathikuli means frequented by elephants) is the most evocative, as the blend reflects the mountainous regions of Assam where this tea is grown with its bold, malty character. The Kashmiri Kahwa is an exotic green tea from the northern regions of India. It is typically brewed in brass kettles called samovars; the tea is mild and infused with subtle spicy flavours. The Masala Chai, brewed from black tea and a mix of spices, is India’s ubiquitous comfort drink.

The project — from idea to packaged tea — had to move at breakneck speed to be ready for a special debut. “We only had about 90 days to select, blend and deliver the teas, including the packaging. There was an added complexity in that, the teas had to be compliant with EU food regulations,” says Mr Dash.

TGB unveiled the specially curated limited-edition blends at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos earlier this year.

IN DAVOS

This January at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, which saw over 3,000 global leaders and delegates from the government, industry, academia and media, meet to drive global discourse on socio-economic and geopolitical issues, the record snowfall (about six feet of snowfall in six days) took everyone by surprise. Amid the clogged roads and inevitable delays, the Tata Consultancy Services Europe kiosk offering piping hot cups of the specially curated 1868 teas, was a warm oasis.

The 1868 teas, with their special packaging, were also gifted to the delegates attending the Tata reception hosted by Mr Chandrasekaran in Davos.

In a year when the summit saw one of the largest Indian contingents, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi keynoting the opening and Bollywood icon Shahrukh Khan receiving the WEF Crystal Award for humanitarian efforts, the 1868 teas spotlighted the Tata legacy and its role in India’s heritage for a global audience.

Mr Dash adds, “They helped us do three things: represent TGB’s creativity and experience at Davos, showcase a bit of what Tata is about and drawing attention to its 150-year legacy, and offer India’s wealth of teas which can be quite different from typical options.”

A SHARED CUPPA

Outside Davos, the first batches of the Tata Tea 1868 range were only offered as part of institutional sales to Tata companies. But TGB is now exploring the option of a wider relaunch of the entire range.

“We want to launch limited editions of the 1868 teas and an 1868 coffee experience for our customers. These will be available online and at high-end sales outlets in a few months. The intent is that our customers become aware of TGB and the Tata 150th year celebrations,” says Mr Dash.

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