Sipping for the soul
by Leigh-Ann Worrell
“We honour God here…,” NovelTeas’ teahouse and bistro managing director Raj Thani simply stated as he prepared for the day’s customers. The Coconut Walk, Hastings, Christ Church location serves to cater to the wellbeing of spirit and mind and does so in a number of ways.
“Customers come having a bad day and leave having a better day. We put our customers at ease [and] we also talk to them and get them to see God.”
NovelTeas has began operation in 2009, initially setting up shop in Harts Gap, also in Christ Church.
A former jewellery store owner, the idea for the teahouse came as he and wife Rebecca were tossing around ideas for a new business venture. Raj revealed he was disillusioned with the jewellery business and ended up closing the City-based venture a few months after opening NovelTeas.
“I was just selling things to people who wanted them, not who needed them. It was hard for me to see a single mother with three children buying a piece of $500 jewellery when she should be using that money to feed her children. But I could sell $1000 in tea easily because I know it will be helping someone,” he asserted, pausing to weigh and package pre-cooked pasta and take a look at the cricket score.
Interestingly, their affection for tea came after choosing to open the business. Further researching their idea, Raj and Rebecca attended a tea expo in Atlanta, which helped to solidify their novel plan.
“We were new in this business but it is a learning process for us too,” Raj explained.
“The first year we were lost on terms of product mix, pricing, servings and having the correct staff we really stressed customer service from the beginning… We knew we had a great product but repeat customers comes from price and service.”
With over 100 teas in selection, NovelTeas sourced its product from companies in United States and Canada which owned estates all over the world. Each airtight jar of tea carry its properties and benefits, including weight loss, detoxification and even male potency.
Women in search of “healthier alternatives” were the company’s main consumer base.
“We have been relying on word of mouth advertising as well as social media and marketing… [But] word of mouth really pays off,” the managing director said.
Product samples are big at NovelTeas, and serve as way of encouraging customers to return and try different products.
“In the near future we will be opening a tea class [dealing with] how they are made and how to brew them. However, the main focus of the class is getting people together to socialise with tea as the focus,” Raj said.
There were also plans of expanding NovelTeas into the West Coast in order to meet the requests from customers living in that area. However, Raj maintained the south coast would be the “bread and butter” location.
As he later told LOVING ME, the new Hastings locale was blessed before operations started a year ago.
“We did not do that with the last one. Now we are blessed with great staff, regulars disappear and new ones appear.”
Additionally, Rebecca, who is in charge of the snacks, desserts, salads and wraps on offer, prays while cooking.
“I really need to stress that God is first place. He is the source. He enables us in all we have to do… [and] we have to give Him thanks. This business is flourishing because of Him…,” the Christian declared. firstname.lastname@example.org