Brewed tea in a glass cup. via iStock

This Czech tea has become a surprise hit in India

Czech-based firm Oxalis found a niche in exporting flavored tea back to India, the world's second-largest tea producer

A Czech company has been having success exporting tea to India. The Czech market leader in loose tea, Oxalis, imports leaves from India, among other sources, but also now exports processed flavored tea back to India.

This is surprising, since India is the world’s second-largest exporter of tea, after China. But India lacks a good producer of flavored teas, which is a specialty market.

Oxalis is based in Slušovice, Zlín region, and owns several patents for processing tea. Founded in 1993, the company now boasts annual sales of 400 tons of tea and 130 tons of coffee. Similar to Coca-Cola or Kentucky Fried Chicken, the exact details of the ingredients and process for flavored tea is a carefully protected secret.

“It would not be possible to export to this country [India] if it were pure tea, because India is indeed a tea power in terms of cultivation. But we have a laboratory where we create specific, unique tea blends. We add ingredients such as pieces of fruit, herbs or flowers, and we also fuse it with a natural aroma. In the end, it is a product that is unique under our recipe and therefore has a place in export,” Oxalis owner Petr Zelík said, according to Seznam.cz

Other companies have tried to mimic the process, but without the same level of success, Zelík added. He says the source of the fruits and herbs used for flavoring is as important as the process.

Oxalis works with a business partner in Mumbai, and expects growth in its sales in India despite the flavored tea being on the expensive side.

One difficulty is that India has a 50% import duty on teas to protect its local market. Customers in India come from the wealthier circles, as the average person can’t afford the imported flavored tea. But incomes are slowly rising, and Oxalis’s sales are going up accordingly, to Zelík. Even though Oxalis has been in business for over a quarter century, it has only been exporting to India for three years. Annual growth is some 20–30 percent.

The word “oxalis” is Latin for sorrel, a plant similar to clover. In addition to flavored tea, the company sells black tea, coffee, cosmetics, and accessories such as kettles, strainers, infusers, cups, storage containers, coffee presses, and coffee grinders. Tea flavors range from Amazon seance to pumpkin and turmeric.

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The company has 130 employees, according to its website. Imported tea leaves and coffee beans are checked for pesticide residue and other contaminants to ensure it meets high standards, as the company promotes healthy living. Flavored products are also kept separate from unflavored ones in processing.

In the Czech Republic, company-operated and franchise stores now number 65. In addition, products can be purchased from several hundred wholesale customers, and there are online sales. Oxalis also exports to more than 40 countries.

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