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Episode 7: The pandemic strikes

By early March 2020, SuAh had already left for Korea, due to visa restrictions. YuSung’s plan was to go back to Korea in July for a bit, before returning to India again. However, by 24 March, the Prime Minister of India announced a nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and YuSung was left stranded in Delhi. 

He had been listening to the PM’s speech and went out that evening to stock up on supplies. It became difficult though – he was stuck alone in his apartment in Delhi, and had no company or help. He wanted to keep going with the plans for Got Tea, but others weren’t sure how the pandemic would affect the business. So, the team decided that perhaps it was time to reimagine the direction their brand would take, at least for the next little bit. 

YuSung had been in contact with the South Korean embassy in Delhi and managed to fly back to Korea in mid-April on a special flight. With SuAh and YuSung in Korea, and Armaan and Jo in Delhi (and the world flung into disarray due to the pandemic), the team decided that now was a good time to get a lot of the administrative issues of the company and brand sorted. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, the team got Got Tea incorporated, and developed many of the company policies that they were required to make. They also started looking into sources of funding, including crowdfunding opportunities, exploring the different ways in which they could stay afloat. 

While in Korea, YuSung and SuAh decided to explore some avenues of their business there. They wanted to introduce Koreans to the teas they had sourced in India, and they set up a tasting session in Seoul, where they served milk teas, brewed at different strengths and with varying levels of sweetness. It was a hit, with around 40 people attending the event. 

Got Tea tasting session in Korea

At this tasting session, they also conducted a blind taste test, to understand what variants of the teas would do well, and found that strong and flavourful teas were a hit! These are the teas that are served today at Got Tea too, and the team has found that in this regard, Korean and Indian tastes are quite similar.

During this time, YuSung also started working for a logistics startup in Korea – he wanted to make sure that whatever job he took on, he would be able to learn skills that would help him with Got Tea as well.

Though the pandemic was turning everyone’s lives around, the team decided they wanted to keep going, in whatever way they could, not wanting to give up on their dreams just yet. 

This journal is an ongoing series tracing the story of Got Tea, the latest bubble tea store launched in India, located in South Delhi. Want to know what happens next? Stay tuned – new episodes come out every week!