Crocuta said

Thinking of starting my own tea company... any advice?

Hello there Steepsters,

I’ve been considering this for a while and I think it may be time to move from “considering” to “doing.”

I don’t have especially large-scale plans. Really, I’d like to just have a small online business where I sell my own tea blends, maybe see if any local stores would like to pick them up as well.

I think my focus will be more on tisanes and herbal teas rather than tea itself. I plan on seeing what I can forage around the area (I know I can get mulberries, clovers, violets, strawberry leaves, catnip and mint at least). I wish I could make “ALL of my ingredients are locally foraged” a selling point… But that would limit them a lot and there are a lot of ingredients I want to work with!

I’d also like to use a lot of fruit pieces. Fruit in tea needs to be dehydrated as opposed to just dried, right? It seems like if I just opened a bag of dried cranberries, that wouldn’t be the right thing to use. So I would want to cut up cranberries and run them through a dehydrator? Any advice on this would be very welcome.

I imagine I would start out with just bags as packaging, but eventually I would like to do round containers like Republic of Tea does, except shorter and filled with loose leaf. I draw and paint, so I’m fortunately able to draw all of my own labels. I would definitely like to make containers that are nice to look at!

At this point I welcome any advice at all: websites, blending, where to buy affordable bulk tea and herbs, packaging, etc. It’s sure to be a lot of work, but I think this is something I would love to do. Thanks in advance for your help!

7 Replies
AJ said

I think you should definitely advertise the ingredients that ARE locally foraged, when you use them. Maybe even have a mini-line within your main line that’s tagged “100-Mile Diet Approved”, that contains only local ingredients.

That’s my only thought. Otherwise, I haven’t any experience with running tea companies.

I think Frank from 52 Teas can offer some advice on dried ingredients. In most cases, though, they seem to be freeze-dried. Also of note: Dried ingredients alone like fruit and such don’t actually add a lot of flavour to your tea. They’re often used only to make the tea look nice, as well as to hold the flavouring oils (Liberteas will probably be able to tell you more about that).

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my favorite place to get herbs and related supplies is: http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/ (they do have a tea line as well)

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Uniquity said

I don’t know if LiberTeas talks about her former tea business but she was my first thought. There are a number of newer small tea businesses around here, maybe you could connect with them for hints and ideas – best of luck!

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Serenity said

I know someone who bought a dehydrator for fruits and veggies, she was trying out a raw food diet. It had several trays so quite a bit of food could be dried at once. Best wishes and go for it! Growing up, my mom had a friend who loved to plant and forage for herbs and so on. We went into the forest and she dug up some sassafras root and made herbal tea for us and I was blown away by how delicious it was. Like root beer but so much more amazing, I thought, and as a kid I wasn’t allowed to have sodas/pop often at all. : )

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Crocuta said

Thanks so much for the advice, guys! I’m actually a little disappointed that fruit doesn’t add much flavor on its own. I had been hoping to avoid using flavoring, but maybe it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

I’ll definitely need some help with critiquing my blends and naming the company in the future, so keep an eye out!

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Some advice?
1.) Know your goal. Do you want to grow the business into one with many employees or just keep it running just by yourself. Setup a financial goal as it will affect your early decisions.

2.) Do your research! So much to do here here are some tidbits, picking local herbs for your teas may sound awesome but there may be health permits needed to do so or government restrictions on it. How will you pack/package the tea? yourself or have someone do it for you? Mixing the tea yourself or have someone do it for you? i ask this because you cannot sell retail consumables from a non-permitted kitchen.

3.) Know your market. Even if you want to keep it small the best website in the world will not bring in customers without marketing. PPC, SEO, Traditional marketing all cost $$. This is very hard and very expensive.

4.) Tea is a very competitive market now. So my best advice is do your research into what health permits, business permits you will need. If your thinking of online only or brick & mortar or even farmer market for your selling base, do your research for those, take nothing for granted, the second you do you will waste time and money.

Hope thats helpful!

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I also want to somehow make income from my love of tea. Problem is, I live in a country that has a very low demand for tea :(
I write a tea blog but making any money off of it is extremely hard, not sure if it’s a matter of time or not, at least I’m having fun with it.

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