Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tea Business Spotlight 17 - Tea of the People

Welcome to the seventeenth 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.

Tea of the People
Ontario, Canada

How long have you been in business?
Personally, my relationship with tea has existed for over a decade. While most of my friends gravitated towards coffee, I was attracted to tea because of it’s diverse variety and aromatic character. Only in my early twenties did I begin to understand the tea types, grades, and health benefits. Tea of the People has been in the making for over a year. Having launched recently, Tea of the People is a new company, with an old soul. Our innovative blends and socially conscious driven mission are built around providing honesty in every cup and empathy for the human condition.

What is the size/scope of your business?
When I spoke about Tea of the People, rarely used are words like “I” and “me”. Despite being the only person steering the ship, my family, friends and extended network were the best support system anyone could ever ask for. They acted as an advisory board and without their love and guidance; Tea of the People would not exist. Simply put, they are all co-founders of Tea of the People. In terms of scope, we are laser focused on getting our tea in health & wellness retail stores. Health & wellness grocery shoppers are among the most enlightened and passionate people when it comes to food and beverages. Winning over hearts and minds in this space is key because in doing so, you then have ambassadors and influencers spreading the word.

Why tea?
With the global economic recovery still lagging after the worst recession in close to a century and so much frustration with our political bodies, the general feeling is people are becoming increasing disconnected from one another. Tea is one of the few things that does the opposite. Consumed all over the world, tea connects men and women in our communities and with civilizations from the past and future. Tea transcends time and space and to help drive the tea industry in a more healthy and socially conscious direction feels incredible.

How did you get the ball rolling on your venture?
When Founder & CEO of Whole Foods Market, John Mackey, is asked what ought pre or current entrepreneurs do to be successful, the answer is “start”. Heeding to this simple, yet profound advice, the earliest roots of Tea of the People can be traced back to an impromptu trip to my favorite grocery aisle, the tea section. After much research, their appeared to be glaring issues with the tea space that few, if any, had thought about disrupting. From there we just “started” learning as much as we could about getting the company off the ground.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your business?
We use only the most nutritious and meticulously produced ingredients in the world. Companies throw around the words “highest” and “finest” when it comes to quality but won’t tell you the “type” of green tea they use, for example, and often times, forgo blending real ingredients with their tea. When somebody buys our Acai x Goji Dragon Well green tea, not only are we excited to tell them that Dragon Well was once drunk exclusively by Chinese emperors and that it’s the most antioxidant-rich green tea in the world, but you are getting a huge handful of actual goji berries with your blend. Our biggest strengths are quality, nutritional value and flavour uniqueness.

What were/are the biggest challenges of getting into/being in the tea business?
Starting a business in any industry is painstaking and tea is no different. The biggest challenge was perfecting the blends. It took about 6 months to finalize our inaugural lineup. For months we worked with food scientists and tea experts, where we faced roadblock after roadblock. Truthfully, it wasn’t known if we could get Dragon Well to taste delicious with super fruit or where to begin with barrel aging Madagascar cocoa beans with organic rooibos. On top of that, we were met with a ton of opposition from the tea space because Dragon Well has never been blended with anything before. Nearly every major tea distributor and company, when discussing our vision, scoffed us at. But something beautiful happened in each of these moments. Very few teas excite and surprise us anymore because everything under the sun has been done, so when I received such passionate reactions, I knew Tea of the People’s was on to something.

How's business?
Since launching, things have been crazy. We did not foresee this much excitement around our innovative teas and story. Magazines, blogs and thought leaders in the health & wellness, foodie and social entrepreneurial spaces are writing about Tea of the People and that feels both amazing and humbling.

Tea of the People has advertised at Tea Guy Speaks

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