A squat factory building looks incongruous on the drive up the hill road from Kochi to the holiday town of Munnar. It is Eastern Spices, a company that Kerala entrepreneur ME Meeran set up half a century ago to make and market a range of condiments. His son Navas Meeran, now Chairman of the renamed Group Meeran, has just launched a new product, tea bags in three flavours under the brand Eastea. “For over a century, the packaged tea business has remained more or less static even as lifestyles and consumption patterns have changed,” says Navas Meeran. “We plan to introduce a range of packaged tea offerings in the upmarket segment including flavoured tea and teas that cater to the wellness segment, as well as a cold brew.” The new products in ginger and cardamom flavours alongside green tea and a black Assam blend, will be followed by others across different segments. Indian consumers’ online exposure has made it easier to introduce new tea offerings, unlike in the past when innovations in the consumer market in the West would take years to be introduced in the Indian market. What Meerans describe as a strategy to shake up the traditional packaged tea segment looks set to ginger up the tea market in India and the Gulf where the Group’s spices are sold. Group Meeran also markets Jackfruit365, a dietary supplement to help control diabetes.