Meet the SHEROES - Radhika Batra
Tell us more about yourself.
Radhika Batra Shah is my name, born and brought up in Bombay I come from a Punjabi family where tea is taken rather seriously. Not once but several times a day mum brewed the perfect cup of chai. Dad being in the shipping business got home tea and food etiquettes from international shores. The Chinese were our closest friends and with them came loads of different teas and tea culture became an innate part of growing up knowingly or unknowingly.
Perhaps that’s why my brother Ritesh Batra too debuted in India with his love story centered around food: The Lunchbox :)
What made you start a tea boutique?
Radhikas fine teas started out of a lot of passion, it was this innate desire to tell the world that tea was beyond chai.Thus started Radhikas fine teas And Whatnots in 2006 in the form of a tea boutique: Teacup
A complete Tea story of teas around the world, teaware, teabooks, tea accompaniments and more.
Media coined it as India’s first tea boutique, opened in quaint Carter Road Bandra.
To watch Indians go abroad and buy leaves or spend in international currency for our priced Darjeelings was something I always questioned....to get that perfect cup of chai outside of home was always a concern...thus opportunity to commence this tea boutique was knocking big time.
I left a successful career for the love of TEA.I had done it all in my early twenties from an MBA with a major in marketing at 22yrs of age to working with esteemed organisations like McCann Erickson in Advertising and then the pioneering team of The Tata Retailiing stores (TRENT) WESTSIDE.I was lucky to have a great spouse who encouraged me to not let go of my dreams as the restlessness despite a great corporate life was upsetting.
With my baby in tow I set to explore non touristy gardens in China, got exclusivity with gardens in Laoshan and Qingdao, similarly in India I partnered with the father of Darjeelings Organic evolution, Mr Sanjay Bansal who actually taught me the finer nuance and notes of teas.
And finally post great research, tea trails and tea tastings I set forth to launch my store.
I didn’t just stop at the retail of leaves, the store had this little island in the centre where I sampled umpteen leaves so that the customer gets a chance to savour them before buying. Also this was an important means of creating awareness and educating her on the goodness of teas....thus this got me known as the expert who hosted elaborate Tea ceremonies in Bombay
I also worked two months in the kitchens of Sanjay Narangs famous Mars kitchens, he was kind enough to help me with curating innovative tea pairings from muffins, scones, teacakes, spice breads etc and delivering the same to our store.
With great success came sudden failure right onto the first year of my business.
The store was on rent and the landlady put me in such deep stress that I had to break down the store and friends helped store all furniture that had been created by artisans.
There was a lot of anger however I didn’t give up...I decided that I wouldn’t go back to the retail model but instead focus on our tea ceremonies..thus another great business model was born...I started taking teas to the hotels, fine dining, derby, art, theatre, corporates, banks, rotary clubs, college fests like : Malhar and MOODI etc.
Our tea ceremonies are renowned for the elaborate Tea-food pairings, tea appreciations, High tea parties wherein me and my food team along with my baristas have travelled the length and breath of India as well as Singapore, Hongkong, Bangkok.
Thus RadhikaFineTeas is now an online store (Radhikasfineteas.com) that Home-delivers international teas All India Our signature line of 10 Exotic Darjeeling Organic Blends retail out of 33 stores of Godrej Natures Basket in Bombay, Pune, Hyderabad, Delhi, Gurgaon and Bangalore Our high tea events Radhikasfineteas gifting for weddings and festival
How can one prepare a perfect cup of tea to keep going at work?
To brew a perfect cup of tea is something that even a child can accomplish
However Patience is important, choose whole leaves, take your favourite cup, add a pinch of the leaves, add hot water that has been shut at a boil. cover and let it steep for 2-3 mins depending on what type of leaf or blend. strain and serve.
You can also buy infusor kettles or mugs that are easily available online now a days.
That way all you need to do is brew the tea in these and sip away as the infusor is interanally built.
Try not to dunk in processed tealeaves or tea bags look out for Organic Pesticidefree, whole leaves or tea bags that have muslin cloth or pyramid teabags.
What are tea trails? Please share some experiences from your trails.
Tea trail is a journey undertaken to tea destinations could be the origin ie from where the leaf is sourced or could be to study the tea culture ie where tea has become a way of life.
For example China, here Longjing gardens produce the finest and purest Green teas or Srilanka which has the entire West coast from the high grown gardens of Nuwareliya to Hapotala to Dimbula or the Middleseast that drinks in much more teas than Indians claim from Eygpt to Iran to Turkey to Morocco.
These trails are conducted in the form of homestays as well as a trail chosen such that you experience the country as well.
My favourite is China, to not only experience the best teas in the world but also to visit the best Tea Museum in Hangzhou and as I wrapped up my tea journey here, I went en route to Suzhou discovering gardens that is now recognized as a UNESCO TOWN and then the pristine Wuzi which has the largest Bronze Buddha in the orient.....thus a complete experience of mind-body- soul healing
Another memorable one is this summer wherein I was invited by the SriLankan teaboard to visit the tea auctions as well as get myself certified in the latest tea techniques.
A message to all SHEROES out there.
Never give up on your dreams, it might be way before the world gives you credit for it, but you should strive to work hard and smart and keep moving ahead no matter what.....Tea cheers to a tealicious life ahead and do remember that you aren’t a super woman but an amazing human-being who needs to value herself before she sets to play her balancing act.