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Rahfath and TeaZone -Brewing Relations over a cup of Tea-

Tea has become one of the most beloved beverages all around the globe. It has the power to bring people together. It has been a beverage of choice for generations and is commonly a focal point of certain cultures and societies – being important to their way of life, traditions and heritage. For Tea connoisseurs, there has never been more choice to get a cup of the hot beverage. The spirit of the tea beverage is one of peace, comfort and refinement. Following this tradition and holding on to the health benefits of Tea, Mohammad Rahfath Filli, the CEO of TeaZone aims to spread the culture of Tea by reaching out to every Tea Lover and making them fall in love with tea all over again.

TeaZone: A Perfect Concoction of Different Blends:

For Rahfath, sipping a cup of Tea is not just a timepass activity. Instead, he believes that every discussion begins and ends over a cup of Tea. Tea is all pervasive and in any culture, people come together through Tea. TeaZone aims at providing an experience that entices the customers and bond them with the aroma that every flavour of the tea unleashes. This Mission statement of TeaZone guides the team towards serving the customers with an experience and connects them with quality flavours which leaves a life time experience.

The Birth of a Teapreneur:

TeaZone is an amazing success story crafted by Rahfath Filli, whose hunger for success motivates him to focus on fast-paced growth each year. Since its inception in 1991, TeaZone has set new benchmarks in bringing impeccable blends of tea that delight visitors and satisfy their tea hunger.

Rahfath was born into a modest middle class family in Kasargod, Kerala. Business was not new to him and his siblings, as his father owned a cafe in Dubai in the late 1980s, before he returned to India and started a mattress business in his hometown. Rahfath remembers towing his father to his shop during holidays. “Dad would show us the products in the shop and tell us about how he bought it and how people would come and buy them from him.”

It is not a miracle that Rahfath ventured into his own business at a tender age of 17. “Me and my friends would buy used bikes and re-sell them. It was fun. We loved it then”, recollects Rahfath. Sooner, he decided to make UAE his home as business always intrigued him. At the age of 17, Rahfath arrived in Dubai to join his father and brothers who were then running a small tea shop in Mamzar, which was named ‘Zumala’. Rahfath had to shoulder all tasks, a typical all-rounder, undertaking all errands without a compliant and with a genuine passion to excel in the industry. Soon after, ‘Zumala’ was rebranded as ‘Filli’s by his brother. The personalization of the brand also transformed the story of Filli’s. It became one of the most popular names and continues to be hugely popular among all, especially the youth. With the breathtaking growth of ‘Filli’s, Rahfath was mandated with managing a few branches. It was while working at the different branches of ‘Filli’ that Rahfath decided to launch another new brand – one that would also be applied to several outlets of ‘Filli’, thereby creating two distinctive brand experiences in the same industry. Hence, TeaZone was born and it saw the birth of a young passionate teenager to a hardworking businessman.

Talk and Town:

The tagline of his brand, TeaZone sums it up aptly. Rahfath believes that composing a cup of tea has become an easy task for all. But, mastering the creativity within this is the true skill. Thus, Tea’s are not simply a cup with random flavours. Real Tea’s are artists drawn by nature.

It was Rahfath’s dream to start a ‘lifestyle café culture that specializes its own aromatic and unique tea experience. The crowd of tea lovers is the highest audience in any of the food business of Middle East region. Starting a business of this nature is not a big task but nourishing the quality of food and maintaining its global standards is very crucial. This is what inspired Rahfath to venture into his brand TeaZone. There are thousands of café and multinational coffee outlets all over the cities. But getting a Tea based café with a great brand impression and the global standards is not an easy thing. This view and the passion drove him closer to the dream of TeaZone.

TeaZone has a very strong and centralized brand guidelines, and they don’t compromise their standards in any part of the business. Rahfath believes that the desire for maintaining high standards with trained and youthful staffs coupled with trendy ambience will host TeaZone to one of the best chill-out destinations.

The Addictive Zone: Cultivating devoted Connoiseurs:

TeaZone is a tea shop which serves incredible cups of tea daily. This cafeteria has got residents hooked on the brew and attracts guests from as far away due to its famous Zafran Tea along with an arrangement for the customers to sit and indulge in their preferred leisure activities. In the evenings, the otherwise sleepy neighbourhood turns into a virtual conveyer belt of cars honking non-stop to place orders – Zafran Tea along with burgers, wraps, milkshakes and samosas.

The Secret Blend: Mom’s Recipe:

Initially started in 1991, TeaZone started garnering attention of passionate tea lovers only in 2005, when they introduced the Zafran Tea. Rahfath traces back to his mother, who has indeed brewed this special Tea recipe. Rahfath understands the importance of brewing and steeping high quality loose leaf teas to perfection, without which, the experience of drinking tea cannot be enjoyed to its fullest. “It’s just tea and we use our own loose-tea brand from India – with Saffron, and make sure everything is brewed well to capture the perfect aroma”, says Rahfath.

Rahfath cites that he and his brothers taste as many cups of tea as they can to ensure they all taste the same. Though the ‘Zafran’ (Saffron) tea is the menu star, ‘Chai Karak’ (Strong Tea) is a close second. Rahfath who manages the family business along with his brother Rameez, say that, “People from all nationalities, age groups and walks of life throng the cafeteria to taste the different aromas of Tea”.

Highlights of TeaZone:

Why one should choose TeaZone over others? Well, TeaZone brews the perfect Tea served with classic mouth-watering snacks. It aspires to always give real freshness in every cup consumed by a customer. An important consideration in cupping teas is the aroma which is given off. A favourable aroma is most often associated with a flavorful taste. Their own signature blend, the Zafran Tea has united many Tea Lovers to have long talks. Zafran is beneficial to health and when added to your beverage, it’s a combination that one can never get enough of.

Every item prepared at TeaZone has its own signature recipe and is crisp, fresh and prepared by experts. Each dish prepared contains no artificial colors, preservatives or MSG.
Above all, TeaZone promises a healthy and organic lifestyle for the people who consume the various flavours of tea.

Rahfath never misses any opportunity to get TeaZone into people’s hands because he figures they would love the flavours and the sustained energy of the product and spread the word to their friends. The Teazone Culture casts its magic spell on the natives. It’s a non-stop ‘Tea Carnival’ at TeaZone, with people thronging in to taste the authentic Zafran Tea with a dash of various snacks. People play board games on a nearby patch of green, while others stand chatting and sipping, getting frequent refills.

An inspiration to Many: Story of Success inspired by a cup of Chai:

Rahfath Filli is indeed, a role model for millennials. He is not only an inspiration to youngsters, but an example to all those who wish to create the life they desire. His professional acumen and self-belief will leave one in awe.

If he is aggressive and ambitious on the professional front, he is equally humble, down-to-earth fun-loving a person who values relationships and family ties. Coming from a family of Teapreneurs, Rahfath values and admires each relations by respecting and providing one with the required space. He believes that brotherly affection goes much more than living together.

Rahfath, cites his father to be his greatest supporter and mentor. “I was not good at studies. I managed till Grade 12, before calling it quits. But, my dad would say, ‘concentrate on business if you do not like to study further”. When, he arrived in the UAE, he joined his famous elder brother Rafih Filli, the Founder of Filli Cafe. “I was an all-rounder there. I did everything from cleaning, to taking orders, to delivery to making coffee. It was a sort of training for me,” says the young CEO.

A Perpetual Learner:

Rahfath believes that the secret to his success is hard work. He says that one need to put in 200% effort. He also shares a warm camaraderie with his staffs. It is equally important to maintain a good relationship between the employer and employee. “We have a very friendly atmosphere. They are the ones who run the business”, says Rahfath.

Rahfath also loves travelling and exploring places. He believes that life is a journey of constant learning. According to him, experiencing new places, helps him to unwind and also study the various teas available there. He travels a lot with his brothers to different parts of the world especially Srilanka, Colombo, Kolkata to study different blends of Tea. “We are always seeking new blends and flavours, we also want to learn market trends and customer aspirations.”

A Funzone:

“TeaZone is a fun zone – not only for those who are necessarily interested in tea but in everyone who wants to have a memorable time. Rahfath who has struggled a lot to build the brand, motivates youngsters on grave importance of hardwork. His hardwork paved way for him and didn’t have to look back on his rewarding journey. He loves to believe that whatever one does in life, do it with full passion and determination and see how things fall in place.

Rahfath drinks at least five cups of tea every day, and with the success of TeaZone he has happily made tea a favourite drink for everyone – from the millennial generation to the old. The signature Zafran Tea is appreciated by people as they could chat for hours while immersing themselves in the joy of a warm, soothing cup of tea.

Focused on continuous learning to keep abreast of business trends and to cultivate his own skills, Rahfath says young entrepreneurs must “always try to create something unique and special.”

Crafted to Perfection:

Rahfath says TeaZone is his passion. “I am never too stressed or tired to get to work because I love what I do”. He says there are a lot of tea shops and cafeterias around in the UAE. One can find a cafeteria in every nook and corner. That is why, it has been important to be innovative with TeaZone. In every aspect, TeaZone is creating a distinctive niche for itself.

Rahfath Filli also adds that his success comes from the dedicated efforts of the team; where everyone supports each other. Each staff at TeaZone is trained initially for 15 days before they get into action. He can vouch to provide the best tea experiences because TeaZone serves Tea with quality and at a very competitive price. This has helped them to win hundreds of new customers every day.

Success Strategies:

Rahfath regularly introduces new ideas at TeaZone, because Tea is his passion. For example, providing free samples of newly introduced tea and drinks is one of the strategies to win new customers while driving word-of-mouth publicity.

He and his team revise the menu every quarter with 2 to 3 new special items added and introducing seasonal favourites. “From my observation I have seen that the new generation does not like to go for the same taste again and again. That is why it is important to launch fresh flavours,” says Rahfath.

TeaZone has transcended its appeal form being the favourite of any one or two nationalities but covers all – including Arabs, westerners, Indians and more. “We have noticed that irrespective of their nationality, once they have a sip of our signature Zafran tea, they come back for more”.

No matter how they expand and innovate, the bottomline of his focus will always be on Tea. He also ensures to collect enormous feedback from customers and guests – more so from the young people, who plan ahead for a friendly round of tea at his outlets.

An Avid Philanthropist: For the Welfare of the Society:

Despite being a teapreneur and managing hectic schedules, Rahfath, is also hands-on with his charitable initiatives. He helps poor families from his hometown. Be it healthcare of the elderly or education of children, Rahfath does a thorough groundwork, select genuine cases and supports them.

Aiming High:

Rahfath has 13 outlets of TeaZone in United Arab of Emirates. He has already signed the agreement to start 20 outlets in UAE and two in Oman. Without compromising anything about its brand identity, the café is gearing-up to make TeaZone a global brand by making it available in entire GCC countries. Apart from TeaZone, Rahfath manages other business as well. He has mobile phone outlets in the UAE. He has one outlet in undergarment trading and also manages a labour accommodation for Construction works in the UAE.

Rahfath makes sure that he devotes quality time with his family, which is one of the top priorities for him. He has been featured on food shows on TV and even has a mention in Wikitravel. He also has a Facebook page as well as a website

Tea is common and goes with every occasion. Rahfath through TeaZone aims at nurturing family ties and bringing generations closer over a cup of Tea. Despite the huge success, Rahfath doesn’t bother to sit around and enjoy his success. He rather aims to be the ‘Starbucks’ of Tea. “I want Tea to be the global equivalent of what Starbucks is”. It is this determination and dedication, which has led TeaZone to garner public support and gain a huge brand name.


Cochin Herald

All stories by: Cochin Herald