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A tea story blended with Indian spices for wellness

Founder of Vahdam tea shares his ‘healthy tea’ journey and the story of Oscar goodie bag

Founder of Vahdam tea shares his ‘healthy tea’ journey and the story of Oscar goodie bag

This year Vahdam tea boxes found their place in the Oscar goodie bag. Started by23-years-old Bala Sarda from Delhi in 2015, the brand has an array of wellness teas that include a variety of Indian spices.

Bala shares the Oscar goodie bag journey: “The Oscar basket is a curated assortment of goodies that features companies that embrace diversity, inclusion, health, and philanthropy. Vahdam is the first Indian wellness brand to be a part of the coveted 2022 Oscars goodie bag. It was a matter of honour to be in the bag with a host of exclusive brands from around the world. Endorsements from Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneres and Mariah Carey helped the brand find its audience. Oprah is a tea connoisseur and a big chai lover. Vahdam was the first tea brand from India to make it to her list of favourite things. We also worked with Mariah Carey to launch a custom assortment of Vahdam India to mark the 25th anniversary of Carey’s 1994 holiday album Merry Christmas and its record-breaking single ‘All I want for Christmas is you. Apart from the range of wellness teas, Vahdam also has a wide range of tea accessories.

Bala pays tribute to his father Madhav who initiated him into the tea business. by naming his brand Vahdam, an anadrome of his name.

Bala finds the journey of the home-grown brand to be a global one, an extremely fulfilling one, though the global journey from scratch was not easy. He shares, “Building trust and credibility amongst consumers in established global markets, building a deeper distribution, continuing to evolve as a brand is a tough task and critical to success. We saw an opportunity to take the ‘best of India’ to the world through the internet, at a much lesser cost, built distribution and a new-age brand. Today, we have delivered to over 130 countries.

To avoid the wellness tea dubbed as homemade kadha, Bala’s team worked to make it stylish, tasty and packed with healthy spices. Given that tea is considered an ‘old’ people’s drink and thereby not so trendy, Bala clarifies his vision, “Tea is one of the healthiest beverages. India grows 25% of the world’s tea production and some of the finest teas. In addition, it also produces herbs, spices and superfoods like turmeric, moringa, ashwagandha, tulsi and giloy. Turmeric is one of the most trending, high growth superfoods. India produces 80% of the world’s turmeric production and yet, no homegrown brand was taking it to a global level. When I joined my family tea business, I realised that most of the tea sold across the world passes through multiple middlemen before reaching consumers. By then the prime freshness and flavour in the tea are lost. It was also unsettling to see that though globally acclaimed brands continue to grow significantly every year, millions of farmers in India, who produce 25% of the world’s tea, are still plagued by problems like low wages, poor education and an uncertain future When I went deeper, I saw this problem extended to other products like spices and herbs too. That is when I decided to launch Vahdam India. 

With multiple players in the tea segment, what is the trick to standing out? “The tea market is cluttered. That is why from day one, we focused on making available an exceptional quality product consistently. We do this with direct procurement (from plantations, farmers and cooperatives) within days of harvest, packaged garden fresh at our BRC (British Retail Consortium) certified state-of-the-art facility in India and shipped directly to our fulfilment centres across the world. By eliminating middlemen, we are also able to pass on the monetary benefits to the farmers who grow and nurture them with care and passion. 

Brand Vahdam is also strong on wellness teas with herbs and spices; especially their range of turmeric teas. Was it an outcome of COVID-19? “The brand has been trying to be #VocalforLocal since we started 7 years back. We launched our range of turmeric teas and superfoods long before the pandemic. We have always been propagating that immunity is not something you can build overnight, it is a process and takes time. COVID made everyone re-discover and appreciate the wisdom of the Indian way of life – simple, natural, organic and holistic.” 

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