Explore the five largest chai brands in India that have not only captured the hearts of tea enthusiasts but also reshaped the country’s tea landscape
Bengaluru: India’s profound affection for tea dates back centuries, and in the modern era, it has evolved into a thriving retail industry filled with constant innovation and a diverse array of flavours.
In 2023, revenue from the Indian tea market amounts to $13.6 billion and the market is expected to grow annually by 5.97% (CAGR (compound annual growth rate) 2023-2028), according to data analytics platform, Statista.
Even though India is dominated by millions of road -side tea stalls, The nation has also witnessed the emergence of numerous branded chai chains over the years. From bustling urban centers to serene rural landscapes, these chai retail giants have left their mark, creating more than just tea outlets; they have crafted immersive experiences.
Let’s uncover the five biggest chai brands (in terms of number of stores) in India that have captured the hearts of tea enthusiasts and redefined the nation’s tea industry.
Chai Sutta Bar
Chai Sutta Bar (CSB) was founded in 2016 by Anubhav Dubey and Anand Nayak and later the duo was joined by Rahul Patidar. They started the tea-cafe chain with its first three outlets in Indore investing an initial capital of Rs 3 lakh.
CSB offers chai and snacks starting from Rs 15, according to its website. The company has two types of business models: FOFO (franchise owned franchise operated) and COCO (company owned company operated) and three types of outlets: kiosk, medium and mega.
The chai chain is known for its concept of serving tea in kulhad (an undecorated handleless pottery cup which is meant to be disposable). With the usage of 4.5 lakhs kulhad per day across their franchise outlets in the country, the brand contributed to the livelihood of over 500 potter families as per the brand’s website.
Currently, CSB operates over 500 outlets spread across 300 cities in India.
Chaayos (also known as Sunshine Teahouse Pvt Ltd) was launched in November 2012 by Nitin Saluja and Raghav Verma with the opening of its first outlet in Gurgaon at DLF CyberCity during the same month.
The New-Delhi based brand formed with the vision to create a unique tea experience for the consumers of India. It is a contemporary interpretation of the ‘chai adda’ or tea room. In 2021, the tea retailer marked a milestone by opening its 100th outlet in Gurgaon, and within just one year, by 2022, it had expanded to a total of 200 stores.
Chaayos also introduced personalized chai concept, allowing customers to create their own ‘meri wali chai.’ With a range of ingredients and flavors to choose from, chai at Chaayos can be customized in 80,000 different ways to suit individual preferences.
Today, the home-grown tea-café chain operates over 230 stores across the country. It aims to have 400 stores by next year and 1000 cafés within 2-3 years, with plans to enter new cities, as per its official website.
Chai Garam was founded in 2008 by Bhrigu Dutt, as one of the first organized chai brands in India. The New-Delhi based retailer began its franchising operations in 2012.
Chai Garam offers a range of beverages and food items including around 20 types of freshly brewed hand-made teas and over 30 flavours of milk shakes, coolers and iced teas.
The chai chain operates in several modular formats including indoor kiosks, outdoor kiosks, mobile carts, retail outlets (300-1500 sq. ft.), shop-in-shop and micro ATM kiosks (a compact cafe that can be easily fit into any ATM, retail shop or cafeteria) which are customized to fit in a variety of locations including shopping malls, high street markets, airports, metro stations, hospitals, universities, offices and even petrol pumps.
Today, the brand has expanded its presence and serves customers through more than 200 cafes, shops and kitchens. As of now Chai Garam has served over 6 million cups of tea and has set a goal to sell 10 million cups in the future, according to the brand’s official webpage.
Chai Point, a chai led beverage platform, was founded in 2010 by Amuleek Singh Bijral. Headquartered in Bengaluru the chai chain is parented by Mountain Trail Foods Pvt. Ltd. In 2017, it commenced selling products on the e-commerce marketplace Amazon.
The company reaches its 30 lakh customers through multiple touch points including retail stores, cloud kitchens, corporate offices and institutions, consumer packaged goods, and hotels, restaurants and cafes (HORECA).
Today, Chai Point is present in India through its retail network of over 180 stores across 9 cities and in over 3500 workplace community hubs across 21 cities through its specialised brewing systems, according to the brand’s official LinkedIn page. It serves over 700,000 cups every day.
The omnichannel brand is aiming to tap into one million small and mid-size bakeries and cafes by bringing them onto a single platform and plans to install 30,000 myChai™ brewing systems (cloud-connected chai and coffee brewing technology platform which enables personalization of different chai recipes at scale) across India in the next 3–5 years.
MBA Chai Wala
MBA Chai Wala was established in 2017 by Prafull Billore, a young entrepreneur and motivational speaker from Dhar, Madhya Pradesh. At the age of 25, he quit his MBA program in Gujarat and started the business by opening a small roadside tea stall with just Rs. 8,000.
Contrary to what most people assumed, the ‘MBA’ in the brand name actually stands for ‘Mr. Billore Ahmedabad’, not Master of Business Administration.
The brand operates cafes in two models: highway (5000-8000 sq. ft.) and lounge (around 1500 sq. ft.).
The brand has three ventures. 1) i-TEA, a brand that sells ethically sourced tea leaves, 2) Riddhidev, a brand that offers a range of puja samgri and idols, 3) The Dark Beans, a subsidiary of MBA Chai Wala Pvt. Ltd. which was launched in January 2023 with a mission to inspire people to pursue their ambitions.
MBA Chai Wala currently boasts a network of over 100 outlets across the country and has established partnerships with more than 100 brands, as per its official website.