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The Chai culture in Kolkata is widespread especially in the corporate world where the act of going to a local chai wala for a cup of tea and a sutta (smoke) has become indispensable. The local chai wallahs serve tea in what is locally known as a bhar. A bhar is an earthen cup which has a very short lifetime since it is used only once after which it is thrown on the pavement, and lies shattered in hundreds of pieces. The chai wala looking after his own economic interests, unbeknownst, has created a legacy of sustainability in the chai industry. Unfortunately, there are few chai wallahs, who have gradually shifted to serving tea in small plastic cups. This change was unfavourably viewed by customers also as they believed that drinking out of plastic was not satisfying. This demand for Bhars caused most Kolkata chai wallahs to offer bhars alongside plastic and glass cups. By keeping this eco-friendly practice alive, these chai wallahs have sustained another sector of small business owners – the bhar wallahs, potters who craft the cups out of clay from the Hooghly River.
The founders of The Tea Shelf live and operate out of Kolkata, a city from which they draw a lot of inspiration. Hence, our company, too, wanted to follow these green footsteps of our city and attempt to minimise plastic in our packaging. Each of our tea blends are packaged in tins or paper pouches. Further, our tea packs are delivered to you in wooden or cardboard boxes which are also sustainable. With the exponential change in climate it is important for us all to contribute in all to ensure that we live in a sustainable manner and reduce our carbon footprint. We, at The Tea Shelf, have tried our best to do this and we strongly encourage all our readers to do the same!