Starting a new tea business

I am in the process of starting a new tea business. I am planning on going to the World Tea expo and to the New Business seminar. Right now I am looking for a wholesaler. I’ve seen a couple of posts that list a few wholesalers. I’ve looked at their sites but I am not exactly sure what to look for. Here are a couple of things that I was hoping to obtain from this post.

1) Questions that I can ask the wholesaler to help me decide who to use.
2) I’ve seen that some of the wholesalers have ‘new business starter kits’. A whole package that they will sell you to get the business going. Is this a good idea?
3) Teas that I should start off with.

I would appreciate any input.

20 Replies

Good luck in your venture. I used 3 different wholesalers when i was open.

Since started a new company so if you need a website let me know.

How did you select your wholesalers? What questions did you ask them to make your final decision?

I choose the wholesalers based on distance from my location (save on shipping), wholesale price to retail price, quality of product and also selection.

I ended up having one that was really good with service and help. I would suggest you get at least 2 suppliers. Importing from outside the country can be expensive on shipping.

good luck with it.

Thank you. This is really helpful.

If you don’t have an Google Adwords account or it is 14 days old or less, I got something to start you out.

got an e-mail last night from china. i had good luck with the site but you will see the import stuff. this site is pretty good if you want to import from china.
http://sh.vip.alibaba.com/product/privateshowroom/clickShowroomEmail.htm?domain=sino-herb&inviterId=mNz1S%2FRx220%2Ba8EcUxkhQEPsdfYgvMDnO7UTMcvDy%2FKsxYZlZ1ye2w%3D%3D&recordId=3Lb4YR4b1VWIRDaZvCfC8k5yw5LsHtfxFWh7iqxfctRdnnHVOKtXiQ%3D%3D

I appreciate all of your help.

Yatthra said

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What kind of business?
Web based?
Loose tea?
Tea and gift?
Serving food with?

If you have not answered those questions for yourself, the Expo is a great place to start.
Do the work and you will gain much in ‘knowing’ rather than being told or suggested to. There will be many wholesale vendors at the expo and you can ask your questions personally. You only have a couple months before the show, so read read read and taste lots of teas. If you self educate you won’t have to have a vendor select your teas for you. Deciding on and then knowing your customer base is important as well, before selecting your teas. Who are you planning on selling to?

If you are not sure what to look for on vendor sites, you may not be ready to purchase.

Tea Map was an education for me, before I started.
This shows your proximity competition based on a Palmdale zip
http://www.teamap.com/states/state_CA_Distance.html

We are going to start web based and then hopefully have a brick and mortar within a year. That is our goal. There is only one local tea shop in the Antelope Valley and their tea selection isn’t very good.

I’ve been tasting a handful of teas but I am partial to black tea. This makes it hard to judge the other teas. I’ve been reading a bunch on the web as well as reading books. I am overwhelmed by all of the information. This is why I was asking the questions above. Just to make it not so overwhelming.

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It is pretty tough to start web-based and build customers without them being able to try the tea first. I’ve been open for 4 years and do some online, but that would not support a business. For people to want to purchase your tea on a regular basis you will want to have ‘turn-over’…so your teas are fresh.
I would look into finding a Farmer’s Market local to you and applying so that you would have a face-to-face introductory outlet.
It would be easy to buy samplers, from Adagio for example, and have a group get-together,(friends, family) let several people try different teas and take notes on likes/dislikes.

Thank you. I will look into the Farmers Markets.

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Obubu Tea said

Hi Jacque, Let us know if you are interested in sourcing Japanese tea from the farm directly. We sell our tea in the “raw” state — before it is sorted, finished, and blended with leaves from other farms at production side brokers. Our VP, Matsumoto-san, is also trying to start an NPO – the International Tea Farms Alliance – to get farmers to be more in touch with consumers/retailers, and to raise awareness among consumers/retailers about tea farms. He’ll be at the Expo. (www.teafarms.org)

Ian / Kyoto Obubu Tea Plantations (ObubuTea.com)

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Obubu Tea said

Oh, and the big disadvantage to sourcing directly from tea farms like us is shipping cost. You sacrifice quite a bit of margin to shipping as a retailer. You gain on freshness and quality (less transit time, fewer change of hands, controlled storage environment), and marketability (“sourced directly from XX farm”).

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Hi Jacque, we are building out our tea house right now. I think it’s most important to look for integrity and passion.

There are a lot of great teas out there, but who will be able to get you those teas consistently, year after year? People that you want to have a long term business relationship with. Obubu is a great example.

We represent a tea master and his farm operation in Taiwan. If you’re interested in Taiwan tea I’d be more than happy to give you a sample, and at least some further insight on the tea trade from this particular country.

-David / AshaTeaHouse.com

Hi David. I was reading Jacque Scott post about a year ago, she was wanting information about starting a tea business. I have also been thinking about doing an online retail tea business. I too, do not really know where to start, and what is involved in process of retailing on line. If I would have to buy a certain amount of tea to start, if tea company will drop ship! I am British, living in USA for some time. I know a little bit about tea, but no sufficient to get started. Your post sounded interesting, especially representing a tea master and his farn operation in Taiwan, could you please explain. Also, I am not sure if I have tasted Taiwan tea before, and would be interested in a sample. If you could give me more information I might need to know or probably not thought about, and your experience in getting started, would be very much appreciated. Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you, Linda

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Tea Trade said

Jacque,

How exciting that you are looking into this. We can help you get started in and online. I don’t know if you’ve encountered Tea Trade yet (http://teatra.de) but we specialize in e-commerce websites for people interested in selling tea online. Here is a small demo store I created: http://demostore.teatra.de/ and here is one of our premium sellers who hired us to build his website for him: http://au.the-devotea.com/

Anyone can sell tea on a Tea Trade website, but we offer a special service for anyone who needs a fully branded, customized store. Their products automatically get listed in our MarketPlace (http://teatra.de/marketplace) where there is already a base of buying tea customers.

We’ve also had good experience with the different wholesalers here in the states and I’m able to talk with you more about those as well. You can kind of think of us as a tea entrepreneur incubator. Our fees are extremely reasonable and you’ll get what we call managed hosting for you site. Everything is taken care of by us, we keep your website safe, up-to-date and we do all the legwork to get you up and running.

Our basic subscription service takes 6% of each sale. This is great for starting out, and when your sales rise, you can upgrade your account to avoid the commission fees (to give you tighter control of your margins). Under those plans, you can build your own store (with our help if you need it) – or you can hire us outright and we will build you a custom, tea e-commerce website that you can call your own for far less than you could hire someone else to do it (the only stipulation is that any site we build for you is hosted on our network – but you get white-label service).

No doubt you have tons and tons of questions. Our forums are full of talk by other folks who are just starting out businesses in places all over the world. I would love to partner up with you and help you out in getting started. There is a lot to learn about running an online store and sometimes, its best to work with someone who knows the road.

Get in touch with me over at Tea Trade (you can sign up for a free account and I can give you a better run-down of what we can do for you). http://teatra.de

Pete Davenport
Founder, Tea Trade Network

p.s. References for our services can be provided if needed.

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Hi Jacque,

I’m currently looking to set up an online tea business myself, having read your posts above I’d love to know how its gone for you over the past couple of years and what tips you could give for someone just starting out.

Gareth

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Hello Pete,

Are you still helping tea entrepreneurs set up there first jump in tea business, I am looking do exactly what Jacques Scot had in mind, I just want to have a few kind of blends and online tea business. I am not sure what is the first step and hope we can talk more about it.

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Hi Jacque,
I am Ahmed from Sri Lanka. I am aware that you would have started your tea business by now. We are mainly in to tea & herbs with value addition. we even ship 1 kg small shipments at a reasonable price so that you do not have to worry about large investments.
We can supply black, green, rooibos, chamomile, peppermint, fruit infusions, Hibiscus, rosehip, Lemongrass etc. We can also supply organic certified products as well. we can ship in bulk,packets, pyramid bags, string and tag etc.

Please let me know so that I can send you some free sample for your evaluation purpose.

Please send us a mail to [email protected]

All the best
Best regards,
Ahmed Arifeen
Rakeeb International (Pvt) Ltd.

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