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Interview with Medha Gupta, Goodricke Teapot Owner in Gurgaon
Gurgaon is a sea of coffee outlets and the number of coffee lovers have gradually increased in the last decade. Coffee outlets can be conveniently seen in every corner of the city, however we can't deny the fact that India is a tea drinking country. Tea is something, which helps you awake your senses every morning and one can't forget the tea drinking sessions in winters while enjoying the bonfire.

Tea is gently going commercial in many cities and few of the avid tea lovers have pulled up their socks to make it accessible to the urban crowd when they are out for shopping in malls. The number of Tea Cafes has undoubtedly increased in the last two to three years and therefore, one can sit and sip the green, brown or black colored tea in social centres of Gurgaon. Cafes like Coffee & Chai, Goodricke Teapot, Tea Room Co., etc are among the few tea outlets in Gurgaon serving a myriad varieties of tea to their clients.

I decided to steer towards Goodricke Teapot ( the World Record holder to sell the most expensive tea) to have a word with owner Medha Gupta to explore the trending tea culture in a city like Gurgaon and to make people aware about the importance of tea we have in our everyday life. Excerpts from the interview.

Q. How did the name Goodricke Teapot come up for the cafe?

Medha GuptaMedha Gupta (MG) - Goodricke Teapot is basically a flagship of the 1977 established Tea Company with the same name. The tea company, which started in Kolkata has been into manufacturing tea from the very beginning. Since, we have taken the franchisee of the company, hence the name Goodricke Teapot. The tea manufacturing company was always into exporting tea to different countries and it is very recent that they stepped into retail as well.

Q. Gurgaon or NCR is flooded with coffee outlets. Why did you decide to walk on a different route altogether?

MG - You are absolutely correct when you say Gurgaon is flooded with coffee outlets, although if you look at the statistics, 70 per cent of the Indian population sips tea every morning to rejuvenate themselves. No one asks for a coffee early morning. In most households, 4 p.m is that hour of the day, which is synonym to tea and snacks.

Tea is certainly going commercial and is becoming a cult now. People want to experiment with tea now and they are much more aware about the healthier options in a culture of what they are drinking or what they are eating. So we decided to opt for a proper English tea setup also keeping in mind what people are craving for in terms of flavours and aroma, which our clients love. 

Q. Is it difficult for tea cafes to survive in the sea of coffee outlets?

MG - It is difficult however, it is getting better now. People are willing to explore new ventures and there are people fond of tea also. I also get lot of walk-ins who sit for two to two and half hours with a book and a cup of hot tea.

We are not one of those cafes/ restaurants, who ask clients to vacate the table. Anyone can sit here for as long as they want to. Kitty parties, Power Point Presentations, birthday parties and tea - tasting sessions are regular at Goodricke Teapot. These are certain points, where coffee outlets lack and thus, tea cafes can survive against the coffee outlets. 

Q. Your flagship started your journey in 2013. How has been the journey so far?

MG - God is kind, we are doing well. Goodricke Teapot though might have started with a turtle walk but we have gradually picked up in the recent months. We have marketed and promoted ourselves as much as possible with an intention of making people aware that a concept of English tea cafe does exist in Gurgaon. 

Q. Did you always want to come up with a cafe in Gurgaon? Why?

MG - We wanted to go for a pilot study first and I thought there is no better place than Gurgaon to experiment with the new concepts. We will of course take it to Delhi as well. Gurgaon has lots of expats crowd such as Japanese and Chinese and are known to be avid tea lovers. Moreover, the culture of a teapot in an entire Victorian setup is something, which is gradually gaining popularity in Gurgaon. We have faith in the Gurgaon crowd and Delhi is certainly on the map.

Q. What about the target client of Goldricke Teapot?

MG - See, when we kick started our project we were getting lot of thirty plus crowd but I was startled when we also started hosting a number of young people. You can see college going students in the tea cafe during the sunset although thirty plus is our main target client, which includes both Indian audience and expats. We get lot of foreigners over the weekends.

 Green Black Tea

Q. Do you have a specifically trained staff for the tea cafe?

MG - Unquestionably, Yes. I have trained my staff for over an year. Tea brewing is a very critical process and therefore, one needs to be highly trained in the same. It is a herculean task to brew the perfect tea everytime. Every client we host has his own taste and whenever someone places an order, we always ask them whether they want a half body or a full body or less brewed or a strong tea.

These are some of the basic guidelines, which our staff has to adhere everytime while noting down an order. If the clients are unable to understand these terms (since these are technical terms), our staff politely explains them to the customers. Our staff brews tea for two minutes, three minutes, four and five minutes according to the order placed.

We started our pilot project from Fortis Hospital, Noida and that's where the training for the staff actually began. We constantly organize tea tasting sessions in the cafe where interested people are taught about the making of Darjeeling Tea. Even I personally researched a lot prior to opening this cafe and I am still on the learning spree.

I would like to share a very interesting fact about tea - it is the only bush that is plucked forty times a year, unlike others. For example, there is first flush, second flush, spring and autumn tea and we explain the difference between them to the clients.

Q. What is your take on your fellow rivals?

MG - Honestly, I don't feel there is any competition in this field because every one is doing things differently and every one has a different concept. For example, not every tea cafe conducts tea tasting sessions. We just do it better. We are not a restaurant, however we have food that compliments tea.

Goodricke Teapot has varieties of tea for the clients namely breakfast tea, evening tea and afternoon tea as well. Tea manufacturing has a broad horizon and has a lot to offer to every one. I do visit my competitors like a regular customer and as I said earlier, all the tea outlets have a very different concept. I don't perceive it as rivalry, instead I see it as growing. You can call it as judging the competition or gaining knowledge.

Q. Why you opted for an English Tea setting?

English CrockeryMG- First of all, it's something off beat and secondly, you would find normal tea cafes in lot of places in Gurgaon. A tea cafe completely devoted to English setting in Gurgaon is like finding water in the desert. You will find here everything related to how English people have their tea.

Q. India is a tea drinking country inspite of this people don't venture in tea cafes. Where do you think is the disconnect?

MG – I won't deny this. There is certainly a disconnect and it is the responsibility of people like us to bridge the gap. I try to conduct as many tea tasting sessions as possible and several workshops to make people aware about the concept of tea in India. Now ,when the customer walks in , believe me they are well versed with their tea.

Clients know what they want on their table as they are gradually getting familiar with the technical tea terms. We are trying to connect people with our Facebook pages and other social media platforms. Clients take their time to go through the entire A la Carte and we provide free tea samples as well. So I feel, the disconnect will no longer exist in the near future. People are slowly understanding the difference between Assam Tea and Darjeeling Tea.

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