Tea is typically used to cure the common cold, help you relax, or even repel mosquitos. However, in addition to household and medicinal uses, it can be used to create replicas of some of our favorite everyday products. A startup called Arafatea — which is working out of the Student Sandbox this summer — uses tea leaves, raw materials from tea, and hot water to create a variety of products ranging from chocolate and ice cream to makeup.

“We make food from tea, drinks from tea and from cosmetics,” said Hanna Affifah, the founder of Arafatea, who is one of the international students at the Student Sandbox this summer. Otherwise, she attends the Bandung Institute of Technology in Bandung, Indonesia.

The Tea Market and Breaking In

photo 1-2As of now, the tea market in Indonesia shows no signs of slowing down. According to an article from Reuters, the Indonesian tea market had an annual growth rate of about 2% from 2004-2009. Green tea showed the most popularity, with a share of 52%.

Essentially, tea won’t be hard to introduce in the Southeast Asian country, but it will be more of a challenge to convince consumers to buy Arafatea instead of another brand.

“The biggest challenges are that it’s quite hard to educate the public that this is the good tea,” said Affifah. “There is no poor tea, but this is the tea that will match to your need.”

According to Affifah, there is a large tea market in Indonesia because the country does not have to import or export the product, but can make it themselves.

However, Arafatea could fill a gap in the Indonesian tea market by offering consumers a new kind of experience.

“For everyone in Indonesia, they normally drink sweet tea, it’s not lemon tea. It’s only sweet tea, and they drink it everyday, and then after that, tea is boring. You drink it directly. There is no experience,” said Affifah.

In comparison, countries such as China and Japan have created stories behind various tea flavors, which have not only created traditions, but also a deep connection with consumers. Affifah wants to bring stories to Indonesia while at the same time educating consumers about the benefits of tea.

“White tea is good for focus and the heart, and is the best antioxidant besides fruit. Green tea is for diet and cholesterol… and there is vitamin C in green tea,” said Affifah.

Additionally, Affifah hopes she can scale her company and even bring it to the United States.

“I’m looking to expand to America first because of the consumption level of tea in America,” said Affifah. “Tea is the healthy alternative besides water, westerners can be attracted by stories, and they are eco-friendly.”

More About Arafatea and Plans for the Future

With the Sandbox Demo Day a little more than three weeks away, Affifah is preparing to introduce her product to the Syracuse community and get feedback.

“I want to meet with tea lovers and introduce my product,” said Affifah, 23. “…I just got to meet my friend from China. She is going to open a tea shop downtown…I will be able to sell out of her shop.”

Overall, Affifah said she’s had a great experience in the Sandbox so far, especially because of the support and guidance she has received.

“In Indonesia and the Sandbox – it’s quite similar,” said Affifah who improved her knowledge about market research while at the Sandbox. She said that “In Indonesia we have to go to the street to directly do research, then meet with the mentors or lecturer. Here, it’s reversed. Braden and John (Sandbox mentors) will give the theory first, and say it’s good to implement,” she explained. Affifah said of John and Braden, “They are very kind, and very open to us. If you have any questions or need help, they say, ‘See me and we can bring you a link or advice’,” she added.