Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tea Business Spotlight 12 - Tealet

Tealet
Honolulu, Hawaii

Welcome to the twelfth 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?
Tealet went live in May 2012.

What is the size/scope of your business?
We are a grassroots global corporation that facilitates relationships between tea growers and tea drinkers. We are a two-sided marketplace between tea growers from over ten different countries and will initially focus on marketing to the US market, although we do ship tea to customers internationally.

Why tea?
My professional background is in food science and technology and I was never really satisfied working in the food industry until I began working for a RTD green tea manufacturer. I was introduced to the unique qualities of tea and the healthy benefits it can bring for people. I was reintroduced to tea from the perspective of the grower during my time as a Japan MBA student at the University of Hawaii. I studied the market feasibility for Hawaii Grown Tea and then did a four month long internship in Kyoto, Japan at Obubu Tea Plantations. I think the US tea market is growing, the consumer is becoming more conscious, and tea growers are prepared to supply the world with the best quality tea.

How did you get the ball rolling on your venture?
After I finished an internship in Kyoto, Japan I returned to Hawaii and participated in a Startup Weekend event. At the event individuals pitch business ideas and teams are formed to build the business in 52 hours. My idea of "tea-commerce", now Tealet, was selected and my team won second place. Since then I have continued to work on the business idea and now we are in a business accelerator in Silicon Valley talking with investors about growth of the business.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your business?
Our biggest strength is personal relationships we have with tea growers around the world. We hope that we can build a product that can extend this relationship with the tea drinker.

What were/are the biggest challenges of getting into/being in the tea business?
Like any business it is difficult to get the right partners together and to do the jobs of 10 people. The tea business is a relatively straight forward business, but there is much competition so it is very challenging to find the thing that separates you from everyone else.

What would you do differently, if anything?
I would have started studying Japanese earlier. I work with many Japanese farmers that don't speak English and we sometimes have difficulties communicating. I am practicing my Japanese now, but I wish I was fluent in speaking and writing so I could quickly do business with my partners.

How's business?
Business is growing quickly. Our customers are enjoying our tea and we are excited to try new things and take our customers on an exploration with us.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be in the tea business?
If you want to get in the tea business the best way to start is to network and build a community within the tea industry. Find out what's going in the ecosystem and try to build a solution that will help everyone including yourself. Make friends and find ways that you can work together. There is a lot of opportunity in the tea market right now, so there is much room for synergy.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Green Tea Aids Memory?

Here's another article I recently wrote for The English Tea Store blog.

Green Tea Aids Memory?
By William I. Lengeman III

The litany of potential health benefits for green tea continues. For anyone who might have missed it, the latest in this multitude of possible benefits is the notion that green tea might help enhance memory. For more on how tea can help other brain functions, refer to this article from a few years ago. It looked at potential benefits in the area of spatial learning, memory, cognitive capability, and learning ability, as well referencing a study on the calming effects of theanine, a compound found in tea.

read the full article here

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Romance of Tea, by Yan Phou Lee

Here's another article I recently wrote for The English Tea Store blog.

The Romance of Tea, by Yan Phou Lee
By William I. Lengeman III

I can’t quite put my finger on what it is but there’s something about tea that sometimes inspires its fans to flights of literary and poetic fancy. This is something that’s been going on for quite some time now.

I’ve written about a number of rather epic pieces of English verse about tea dating back as far as the early eighteenth century and I’d wager that Chinese poets were tackling this topic much earlier than that...

read the full article here

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Finding Tea in Martin Yan’s Hidden China

Here's another article I recently wrote for The English Tea Store blog.

Finding Tea in Martin Yan’s Hidden China
By William I. Lengeman III

I wasn’t very familiar with Martin Chan until I recently ran across a TV show called Martin Yan’s Hidden China. For anyone else who might have been living under a rock, suffice to say that Yan has been the host of the PBS show, Yan Can Cook, since 1982 and has also hosted various other cooking shows, as well as appearing on popular shows like Iron Chef America.

As the name suggests, Martin Yan’s Hidden China finds the host traveling to...

read the full article here

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tea Review 148 - Canton Tea Co. Green Twirl

Green Twirl
Canton Tea Co.

The first thing I typically do with a sample of tea I haven't tried is to open the package and smell it. It's not a foolproof method for judging the contents of said package but in the case of a tea like Canton's Green Twirl there was no doubt that I had a winner on my hands.

Oddly enough, I didn't bother to read the packaging materials until after I'd actually tried this tea. I don't have a wide experience of tea from India's Nilgiri region but those few I've encountered haven't impressed me. Ditto for green tea from India, which to the best of my knowledge is a pretty sparsely populated tea category.

I'd give this one my highest recommendation, especially if you're a fan of Chinese green tea. There's nothing in that category that I can make a direct comparison to but I'd say that Green Twirl is in the same ballpark as Bi Lo Chun with perhaps a little bit of Long Jing (Dragonwell) in there. Interesting to note, by the way, that Canton bills themselves as "The China Tea Specialist."

This one came to me by way of Canton's Tea Club, which has taken on the daunting task of delivering a new tea every week for 52 weeks. It'll be hard to top this one in the green category but if the quality is this high throughout I'm looking forward to seeing what the future brings. Read more about the club and this particular tea at Canton's blog.

Image: Canton Tea Co.
Sample provided by Canton Tea Co.
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Scotland and Tea

Here's another article I recently wrote for The English Tea Store blog.

Scotland and Tea
By William I. Lengeman III

Is it a coincidence that a number of key figures from tea history hail from Scotland? Perhaps so and perhaps not, but it’s true. Take for instance the man who gave the tea world what might be one of its most recognizable names – Sir Thomas Lipton.

Several decades before Lipton became a household name another pair of Scotsmen...

read the full article here

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Tea Review 147 - Peony Tea S. Phoenix Dancong

Phoenix Dancong - Honey Orchid
Peony Tea S.

I have to admit that Peony's Phoenix Dancong didn't really do much for me - at first. Normally that would be the end of the story but I decided to give this one another try and found out that I like it rather well after all. The difference in these subsequent tastings was that I dialed back a bit on the steeping time and temperature and I also used a bit less leaf.

What I ended up with after all of this was a tea that falls at the lighter end of the oolong spectrum - which is where I like them. It had all of the smooth and fragrant notes of those varieties with a prominent note in there somewhere that I couldn't quite identify but that was interesting nonetheless.

Here's what the merchant has to say about it:

The sweet fragrance of honey juxtaposed against beguiling orchid- what a beguiling combination. Throw in a full-bodied, viscous texture and strong 'recurring sweetness' (hui gan), you can understand why this is the most popular and well-known variety from the Phoenix Dancong family.

Image: Peony Tea S.
Sample provided by Peony Tea S.
Peony Tea S. is a former advertiser at Tea Guy Speaks

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Tea Business & Blogger Spotlight



Do you own a teahouse or tea store? A mail-order tea business? Are you an established tea blogger? If so we’d like to talk to you.

We've done a series of brief spotlights on tea businesses since kicking off this feature. Take a look at them here. If you’d like to take part in a spotlight we promise not to take much of your time and may even generate a little bit of publicity for you.

For more information, contact us here.

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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Fannie Farmer on Tea

Here's another article I recently wrote for The English Tea Store blog.

Fannie Farmer on Tea
By William I. Lengeman III

While there are said to be records of Roman cookbooks dating as far back as the first century, the most influential such works to published here in the United States in the pre-Julia Child era were the Joy of Cooking (1930), by Irma Rombauer, and The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, by Fannie Merritt Farmer, a book that first came out in 1896.

A star pupil at the aforementioned school, Farmer later became the principal there and about six years after publishing her cookbook decided to...

read the full article here

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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Lyons Tea Profile

Here's another article I recently wrote for The English Tea Store blog.

Lyons Tea Profile
By William I. Lengeman III

When it comes to annual tea consumption the Irish are right near the top of the heap. They are ranked third on the list of the world’s top tea drinkers, downing a rather impressive amount of tea that averages more than seven pounds a year per person.

Lyons Tea is one of the companies that’s been instrumental in helping the Irish quench their thirst for tea. In their...

read the full article here

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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

An Account of the Cultivation and Manufacture of Tea in China

Here's another article I recently wrote for The English Tea Store blog.

An Account of the Cultivation and Manufacture of Tea in China
By William I. Lengeman III

Once upon a time the Chinese tea industry was said to be so jealous of their secrets that when the British sought to grow their own tea they essentially had to resort to corporate espionage. It’s a story that’s been told many times – at book length and otherwise – but for a brief overview of the exploits of one such bold tea pioneer/spy, start here.

With this in mind it’s interesting to run across a book like Samuel Ball’s An Account of the Cultivation and Manufacture of Tea in China. The work was published in...

read the full article here

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