In season three of our Hit Subscribe podcast, we talked with Pratik Rijal, COO at Nepal Tea Collective. Pratik shared with us the story of his family and their community in Nepal, and how producing tea empowered them to improve life in their village. Not only that, but Nepal Tea Collective now provides educational scholarships and COVID help for farmers and their families, among other initiatives, through their foundation.
We also chatted with Pratik about Nepal Tea Collective’s interactive customer experience—how they bring each customer with them to their tea gardens, whether virtually or physically. For brands looking to interact better with their subscribers, Nepal Tea Collective’s story could provide some inspiration and insight into how to do just that.
The Nepal Tea Collective story
Pratik’s uncle started Nepal Tea Collective in 2016, but the story really begins with his grandfather in the 1960s. As a 15 year old, he visited Darjeeling, India, and saw a bustling community with electricity, drinking water, and schools—all thanks to the tea gardens they had. When he returned to his village, he presented the idea of a tea garden to the town elders, who laughed in his face.
Pratik’s grandfather wasn’t discouraged, though. Instead of being put off, he planted a few tea bushes behind his house and four years later, once the trees had matured, he was able to convince farmers to start producing tea.
Fast forward to 2016: Pratik’s uncle traveled back to Nepal from the US where he had been studying, and saw how wholesalers were buying tea at the lowest prices possible, then making a huge profit by selling it at a premium price. He also saw that political unrest was causing delays in tea shipments. This is when Nepal Tea Collective was born, as a solution to bring tea directly from producers to the consumers—a mission they have continued to this day—while helping the communities of farmers and their families along the way.
Creating an immersive experience for customers
As Nepal Tea Collective has grown, especially among subscribers, they’ve found unique ways to tell a story with their tea. Customers are curious about where their tea is coming from, and farmers are curious about where their tea is going. By connecting the two, Nepal Tea Collective has struck a chord with subscribers and made their tea even more attractive and accessible.
QR codes: Scannable stories for subscribers
When Nepal Tea Collective started giving tea tours, they realized the strong connection between their tea farmers and those that had come to taste the tea and learn the story. There was one instance where a Napa Valley chef and one of the cooks at the tea garden hit it off, without even speaking the same language. They cooked dinner together for everyone who had come to tour the tea gardens that day, and with tears in their eyes, exchanged gifts before they departed. This inspired the idea behind the QR code: Give customers a real look into where their tea is coming from.
Nepal Tea Collective started including this scannable QR code, so consumers can see the journey of their tea. This includes:
- The day the tea leaves were plucked
- The elevation of the tea garden
- The varieties of the tea bushes in the tea garden
- The date the tea was imported and processed
- The faces of the farmers who made the tea
“Everyone can’t afford to go out there to our tea garden to get that immersive experience…So, that’s why we implemented the QR code…just so that people can appreciate what they’re drinking.”–Pratik Rijal, COO at Nepal Tea Collective
Virtual tea tasting to set themselves apart
Since there are a lot of tea subscription companies in the US, Nepal Tea Collective recognized that they wanted to give customers more than just tea—they wanted to share an experience. So, every month they started to have virtual tea tasting sessions.
“We bring in a producer of a specific tea, and then we connect them with consumers. And then, the consumers can ask anything—the story of the producer, how they got into the tea industry, or they can go into the technicality of how to brew the teas, or what are the notes that we are getting?”–Pratik Rijal, COO at Nepal Tea Collective
This experience touches not only the consumer, but also the tea makers. It gives them a chance to connect with those that drink their tea, see the faces of their customers, and interact with them on a personal level. This is something neither party would’ve been able to do before, if not for Nepal Tea Collective’s initiative.
Inspired by Nepal Tea Collective
Other merchants who’d like to expand their customer connection can take inspiration from Nepal Tea Collective and their unique, personal experiences that are offered to their subscribers. Whether you start an informative blog, create an online community space, or offer an immersive web experience, your customers will feel more connected to your brand than ever before.
 How Nepal Tea Collective provides an immersive customer experience (Hit Subscribe podcast)