A Bangladeshi tea brand has gone global with successful business, expanding to the United States and the United Kingdom after several years' of efforts.
Teatulia, pronounced the same as the country's northernmost region but with a twist in the spelling, is a brand of Kazi & Kazi Tea, a concern of Gemcon Group.
“Teatulia is the first tea brand being sold in more than 100 food chain stores in the US,” said Linda Appel Lipsius, co-founder and chief executive officer of Teatulia Organic Teas (TOT), during a recent visit to Bangladesh.
Among the stores are Whole Foods, Kroger, Wegmans, Natural Grocers, Harmons and Earth Fare, she told The Daily Star at Gemcon's corporate office in Dhanmondi, Dhaka recently.
Teatulia has also been made available inside the Ohio State University, Yale University, UMass Amherst, Colorado State University, Brown University, the University of Michigan and other educational institutions.
Lipsius said Teatulia was also available in renowned restaurants such as Jose Andre, Tokyo Joe's and Garbanzo.
She plans doubling the US market size of this unique variety of the tea company every year, saying American consumers, particularly the young generation, are getting familiar with it.
The brand offers “Hot Teas”, “Iced Teas” and “Tea Soda”, all made from tea leaves grown on a 4,000-acre garden in Panchagarh district.
“This year we have set a target to export 1.5 lakh kg of tea from Bangladesh to the US,” said Lipsius.
She refrained from disclosing what it translates to in currency, reasoning that she rather likes to give priority to the quality of products.
“We offer the best-quality teas of premium category,” she noted.
About the brand name, she explained that it promotes Tetulia upazila and in a broader sense Bangladesh among global consumers.
TOT started with Kazi & Kazi Tea exporting to the US in 2010 by promoting their grade of teas. Now it has more than 15 diversified organic teas available in its product basket to offer to consumers.
Teatulia in the US market comes in packets of 16 tea bags having a net weight of 32 grammes, usually costing $8-$9 per pack.
Another form of packaging has 30 tea bags inside and it is priced at $6.5-$7 per pack.
The “Tea Soda” was recently launched in the US market and got very good feedback from consumers. A 355-milli-litre costs $1.99-$2.99.
Teatulia also has its own “tea bar” in the US and the UK serving the best quality of tea from Bangladesh.
Lipsius started selling teas of TOT in Denver, Colorado around a decade ago when very few people were aware of this organic produce of Bangladesh.
“We do cultivate tea without using chemical pesticide in the tea state in Panchagarh. We only use biopesticides, which are not harmful for the human body,” she said.
However, she said tea garden traditionally needed a lot of chemical pesticides which directly ended up in the body through the consumption of tea.
In 2017, Bangladesh's total tea production stood at 78.9 million kg, of which 2.5 million kg was exported.