Tea For Me Please

Tasting Puerh Storage Methods

Comparing dry, traditional and heavy traditional methods.

5 Awesome Things About Being a Tea Blogger

There are some pretty awesome perks of what I do.

5 Reasons Your Gaiwan Should Be Your Best Friend

The handiest tea tool of all. Are you using one yet?

Tea DIY: Iced Chai Latte

A summery treat that you can brew ahead of time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

8 Things You Should Do Before Starting a Tea Business

Has anyone else noticed an uptick in people looking to get into the tea game? This post was inspired by a few misguided souls. Keep in mind that my intention is not to discourage anyone but to make sure that you are setting off on the right foot.

1. Be passionate.
This should go without saying but tea has been so "trendy" in recent years that everyone is trying to get in on it. Get into tea because you have a passion for it, not because you see potential dollar signs. Your customers will know the difference.

2. Learn as much as you can about tea. Never stop doing that.
Tea is an unfathomably large subject. If you're going to sell it, you had better know your stuff. Read every book and blog that you can find. It's impossible to know everything there is to know. Don't start your business as a way to learn about tea. This backwards approach will only set you up for failure.

3. Do your market research!
I can't tell you how many people I've talked to who dive in, believing wholeheartedly that they have a revolutionary idea, only to discover that the market is flooded with direct competition. I've particularly seen this when it comes to subscription services. You should know exactly who you are up against and what they do before you even get started.

4. Be Social.
The world of tea is large but very connected. Before you even start your business, make sure that you get active on social media and  contribute to message boards like Reddit or Steepster. Not only will this give you insight to what your future customers want but you'll already have friends to help you get off the ground when you are ready.

5. Figure out the basics of running a business.
You don't need to have MBA but do yourself a favor and learn the basics of running a business before jumping into it. I've seen so many people who inevitably closed their business because they had passion in spades but no practical knowledge. Budgeting, accounting and inventory management are all things you should learn before they cost you money.

6. Go to World Tea Expo.
World Tea Expo is the one place where you can do market research, network and attend educational seminars. Even if you don't buy a single thing the resources that you gain there will prove invaluable as your business grows.

7. Know your sources.
It's a common practice to resell tea that is purchased through distributors. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, you should still be able to tell your customers as much about the tea as possible. If you can't tell them where it came from and when it was harvested you should not be selling it, no matter how good that price margin is.

8. Be realistic.
At last we come to the inevitable reality check. There is a very slim chance that tea will make you millions. In fact, many of my tea vendor friends have day jobs in order to support their tea business. At the same time, running a business requires time and commitment. "I'll devote more time to the business once it is successful" will set you up for failure from the start.

All joking aside, I hope that this post gives a bit of insight into what it might take to run a successful tea business. A great resource to check out is +Tony Gebely's Bootstrapping an Online Tea Business.

Are there any tips that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pu'er Academy with A Gift of Tea

Most of you know by now that +Jo J is the hostess with mostest. I can't think of a time when this is more evident than her Spring White Tea. This was the 12th year running and my third time attending. The theme was a bit different than years past and I loved how representative it was of Jo's personal journey with tea. Pu'er Academy was an intriguing title and I immediately volunteered to assist with serving tea. The table settings were beautifully laid out.

I brought along my travel tea tray and one of my favorite gaiwans. The folks seated at my table were new to puerh so it was great to have the opportunity to geek out and introduce them to one of my favorite types of tea. The teas that we enjoyed were:

Bada Mountain 2014 sheng from +JalamTeas
Bada Mountain 2012 shou from +JalamTeas
+Misty Peak Teas 2014 sheng
CNNP shou (not sure of the year)

One of my favorite things about this annual event is getting to see all of the familiar faces. Fellow bloggers +Darlene Meyers-Perry and +sara shacket were in attendance. Theresa from +T Shop and Lisa from +Tiny Pinecone Teahouse and Bakeshop were there as well as writer Max Falkowitz from Serious Eats. +Evan Draper and +Brandon Hale were the guest speakers and they did a great job of educating without giving the audience information overload.

Make sure that you check out +Jo J's website, A Gift of Tea, to keep tabs on future events like this one.

+Tiny Pinecone Teahouse and Bakeshop's famous olive oil brownie gets the delicious addition of a cherry

Monday, June 29, 2015

Scottish Afternoon Tea at The Lowell with Wee Tea Company

I first heard about +The Wee Tea Company through fellow blogger +Geoffrey Norman. The fact that they were growing tea in Scotland certainly caught my attention. I've been keeping tabs ever since, in part because they give me hope about being the first tea farmer in New Jersey. Sir Geoff kindly shared their smoked white tea with a group of us after the Tea Blogger Roundtable at World Tea Expo this year. The Wee Tea Company recently launched their Dalreoch Estate brand in the U.S. and I had the opportunity to interview Jamie Russel for my very first World Tea News article. I totally meant to share this experience with you guys sooner but life gets in the way of writing sometimes.

I met Jamie at The Pembroke Room of The Lowell Hotel on a rainy evening after work. Their afternoon tea service is legendary and I had never visited before so I was really excited to check things out. From the moment I walked in the front doors, I could tell that I was somewhere special. I wouldn't call it antique or vintage but the whole place had an opulent old fashioned feel to it. Jamie was affable and wonderfully passionate about his tea. I loved hearing about the historical documentation he found about growing tea in the U.K. Who would have guessed that Scotland would have a similar micro-climate to Darjeeling?

We shared a tower of delicious sweets and savories as well as several pots of their smoked white tea. I thought it was very interesting that the tea was served with lime slices. Jamie suggested rubbing the rim of the teacup with them. That little touch of citrus really accentuated the smokiness. This tea was quite unlike anything that I had before. The taste was multi-layered and nuanced, allowing the peach-like fruity notes to shine through.

I think that Dalreoch Estate's innovative agricultural techniques could become very important as climate change affects traditional growing regions. The tea industry may need to evolve in the future and small operations like The Wee Tea Company will be the forerunners.

Click the link below to read my story on World Tea News!

Wee Tea Launches Dalreoch Brand in the U.S.