I’m someone who drinks a minimum of two cups of coffee per day. But tea is usually my preference to wind down at night, so I’d reach for common sleepy-time floral teas like chamomile, lavender, and the like.
Another form of non-caffeinated teas have recently been made known to me: fruit teas. One small business producing them that’s caught my eye recently is The Bavaria.
It creates and sells freeze-dried fruit flower teas with interesting flavors that add a twist to popular options in the market.
The Bavaria’s story began with two IT guys, Kenny Tan and Liaw Chee Quan. Giving up IT job offers that came with a RM15K salary in Australia, they chose to return to their Malaysian home ground in favorite of IT entrepreneurship.
But Kenny took notice of Liaw’s disinterest in the field. Rather, Liaw preferred to pursue something in the F&B world and he was a foodie, to boot.
Unsure of what products to create, Kenny suggested starting the business with healthy teas as Liaw was suffering from insomnia due to his caffeine reliance while working.
They agreed to do just that, and for R&D, Liaw switched over to replace his caffeine intake with fruit and flower teas, thus reducing his coffee consumption.
“However, none of them could fulfill both taste and nutrition at the same time. [They’re] either bland with nutrients, or tastes good but added too much artificial flavoring,” the team told Vulcan Post.
They pooled together some friends, Khaw Wei Jing and Chew Zhi Wei, with backgrounds in food science and civil engineering respectively. Their meeting discussed ways to provide people with a tea that was healthy, tasty, and instant at the same time.
It took place at Liaw’s father’s homestay, Art Villa, located in Alor Setar. By the end of that meeting, the four of them had created The Bavaria.
“Consequently, to dive into a bigger market and avoid interval disturbance from the tenants, we decided to move the whole business to KL,” the team added.
With no outsourced help, the team developed a website, their tea products, packaging designs, and digital marketing for The Bavaria. In total, their starting capital was around RM12K, where the cost of ingredients and packaging took up 80% of these funds.
A floral twist
I got to try some of The Bavaria’s products, particularly its Passion Mango Crush and Peachee Berry flavours. What immediately appealed to me was that the tea bags actually came with freeze-dried fruits that you could munch on while sipping the tea.
“All the freeze-dried fruits and flowers are locally sourced, and we ensure they are purely natural without any preservatives,” The Bavaria’s team shared.
The teas themselves were refreshing and not too sweet, which is something the team deliberately ensures of as well, knowing that the market is in favorite of such tastes.
To decide what kinds of flavors to create, they’d look out for popular and common ones already in the market, such as passionfruit, mango, peach, and berry. It can be said that The Bavaria team takes inspiration from these well-received flavors and injects complementary ones, to create a whole new blend that’s unique to the brand.
Its packaging grabbed my attention too. The teabags have a little paper tag that’s shaped like a butterfly, meant to be hooked on the side of your cup as the tea steeps.
While meant to be a thoughtful and practical addition to the experience, it didn’t really work as intended for me. The groove on the tag was a little too wide, which didn’t sit well on the rim of my cup, so it sent the butterfly plunging into the drink a few times.
On The Bavaria’s ongoing promotions, the teas are priced at RM4.50 per pack or RM23.90 for a pack of 6 six. Currently offering five different flavors, the brand also sells a tester pack with each flavor in a single box for RM25.90.
Getting off the ground
With Kenny and Liaw focused full time on The Bavaria, and two team members working part-time, they produce a rough 900 boxes of tea per month, selling over 40 boxes per week.
“This is because we almost handcraft every single process such as the butterfly label, production, and packaging,” said the co-founders.
Despite the global brands out there producing their own variants of fruit teas, The Bavaria’s team don’t actually consider these big names their main competitors.
“We would assume the individual merchants on Shopee who are selling homemade flower teas as our main competitors in the market,” they pointed out. “This is because they are offering at a cheaper price, but their overall taste is bland even though they are healthy.”
Regardless, Kenny and Liaw are positioning The Bavaria as a brand for premium tea made from freeze-dried fruits, high-quality flowers, and tea leaves.
As a new brand still trying to make a name for themselves, building brand awareness remains one of their bigger challenges. Other than utilising online marketing methods and being present on various e-commerce channels, they hope to take on a wholesale approach or partner with cafés.
But they’ve got to start somewhere first. Thus, “One of our predominant goals is to provide healthy beverages and foods which the youngsters can prepare easily anytime,” they shared.
- Learn more about The Bavaria here.
- Read about more startups we’ve covered here.
Featured Image Credit: Kenny Tan, co-founder of The Bavaria