Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tea Business Spotlight 10 - Tiesta Tea Company

Tiesta Tea Company
Champaign, Illinois

Welcome to the tenth of our Tea Business Spotlights, in which we allow tea people to share insights on running their business. If you're a tea business owner and you'd like to take part in an upcoming spotlight, please contact us.

How long have you been in business?
We started the business while still in college (March of 2010). Our product was introduced to the public on store shelves in Champaign, IL in August of 2010.

What is the size/scope of your business?
We are currently in about 70 stores - mostly in the Midwestern USA but we have entered a couple stores on the coasts as well.

Why tea?
Tea has been in my family's culture since I grew up. I always drank green tea as a kid - but then got introduced to high quality teas when I studied abroad in Milan, Italy. My business partner Patrick and I met up in Prague for a vacation and were shocked by the vast amounts of high-quality fresh tea blends. We came back to the United States and couldn't get the thought of starting a tea business out of our minds, so we followed our hearts and did it. The tea industry is a great one to be in - we love getting people hooked on a healthy product and a premium tea. Many common consumers don't know that tea can be in loose form!

How did you get the ball rolling on your venture?
We got the ball rolling by introducing it at the local Farmer's Market near our University, and realized that customer's were loving it! We then assembled a team of young students and friends to chip in wherever they could. We then attended the World Tea Expo in June of 2010 and learned as much as we could about tea and the business behind it.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your business?
The biggest strength of our business is the brand. Our brand is youthful, simple and direct. We want good tea to be easy to understand and enjoy.

What were/are the biggest challenges of getting into/being in the tea business?
The biggest challenge was finding the best quality tea suppliers in the world. There are scores of tea suppliers, but only a handful of them really produce consistently high-quality product. We sampled over 700 blends to develop the recipes of our 50 current teas.

What would you do differently, if anything?
I would have introduced smaller packaging to the market a bit quicker. We are finally rolling out 2 oz. bags for retail purchase, but customers really like being able to select a variety of teas rather than just one.

How's business?
Business is great! We just entered Whole Foods here in Chicago and want to expand our product into more stores in the specialty food and beverage market and hopefully expand to all 50 states by the end of 2011.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be in the tea business?
Find a niche and stick with it. There are scores of tea companies who dabble in different ideas but never focus on one. Also, attend the New Business Boot Camp at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas. You will learn all you need to know about starting a tea business, and there's some great networking opportunities to be had.

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1 comment:

Dan said...

hey this was one of my desert island teas from one of your older posts!!! Glad it is catching on bc this stuff is awesome!