Chai Waale: the business of steaming hot tea

Chai Waale offers an interesting variety of tea   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It all started with some tea: 15 cups, to be precise. Armed with a degree in Business Management from King’s College, London, Vidur Maheswari had been eyeing the untapped tea market. He describes how his father used to drink “15 cups of chai (tea) a day,” thus sowing the seed for Vidur’s thriving business venture Chai Waale.

“Chennai is traditionally seen as the land of coffee. It’s because we don’t get good tea here. Instead of bad tea, people would prefer to have a good coffee,” says Vidur, about what prompted him to open Chai Waale in Sowcarpet in June last year.

“The coffee in popular city restaurants is brilliant. But you cannot say the same thing about their tea, because they follow the coffee principle — blending milk and decoction. That’s not how you prepare tea.”

Chai Waale has an extensive tea menu that ranges from milk, herbal, black to iced tea. An interesting one is chairman’s special, with a strong flavour of lemon, honey, ginger and chat masala that may remind you of a tangy candy.

Dipping bun maska in hot tea before taking a bite means two things: one, getting over work stress. And two, it’s a ritual that’s inevitable. In addition to tea, the menu also includes samosas, sandwiches, noodles and khakhras. One of the USPs of Chai Waale is the sale of khakhras that comes in nine flavours including pizza, jeera, chocolate and dabeli to mention a few.

Sourced from Assam

Given the rising trend in the number of tea stalls in the city, what sets Chai Waale apart? “We rely on quality. Our tea leaves are bought from Assam. Since we directly source raw materials from manufacturers, we cut the middleman’s cost,” says the 24-year-old, adding that the masala is bought locally.

Calling it a “dicey market,” Vidur says he believes investing in customers. He goes on to explain: “You have to think twice before you increase the price. If the cost is slightly above ₹ 35, there’s a chance that people may not visit regularly.” Following the low margin with a high turnover, Vidur says he’s able to produce a reasonably good profit.

Among the business circle, Chai Waale is seen as a direct competition to Chai Kings, another popular tea café in the city. Vidur, however, states that “there’s enough for both to coexist. Both of us are doing well. We’re not hammering into their business and vice-versa.”

Competition is not what Vidur wants to focus on.

“What’s more important is that we are making tea relevant in Chennai,” he says, and he has a footfall of over 1,000 a week to prove it.

Chai Waale has five outlets: in Sowcarpet, Anna Nagar, Mogappair, Purasawalkam and OMR. The branches are open from 6 am to 12 am. For details, call 7010266755.

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Printable version | Sep 8, 2021 12:12:39 PM |

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