First Official Tasting Event on 11/06/2013

Please take a moment to read the blog post covering the first official tea tasting event for my new brand, Hē Chá Tea. We were very happy and encouraged by the results!

The Official Blog for Hē Chá Tea

We are happy to say that our first official tea tasting event was a great success! The tasting was conducted on Wednesday, November 6th of 2013, at the Beaver Falls Coffee and Tea Company in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

The room that the tasting was conducted in was literally packed with guests, some who had to stand while enjoying the entire presentation. There was a nice distribution of age groups, with guests ranging in age from late teens to mid sixties. We also had a nearly equal mix of both men and women, with a slight edge to men. There is a tea for every taste, regardless of age or gender. The guests at this tasting proved it!

The tasting began with an introduction by the founder, Kevin Craig. Kevin told the Hē Chá Tea story, then elaborated on his feelings in regard to the meaning of tea. In contrast to coffee…

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Tea Business Owners, Be Not Afraid of Teavana, Part One

The opening of the new Teavana Tea Bar in New York City has caused plenty of buzz in the U.S. tea market, and understandably so. The photos of the new Tea Bar look great. The design is modern, upscale, and lacks the excessive and flamboyant bright and loud colors that made many men afraid of walking into a Teavana store for fear of being labeled that which they are not by mall passer-bys. There are not many times when I wish that I was in New York City, but the opening of the Teavana Tea Bar had me interested enough to wish just that.

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It is simple to comprehend why many smaller tea business owners are frightened of the corporate machine giant that aspires to take a seat next to them in the neighborhood as soon as possible. They are afraid that the same fate awaits them as many of the smaller retail and grocery stores that have been wiped out by Wal-Mart, Target, and other large corporate chains. That is the nature of capitalism, like it or not. In this economic environment, just like in the jungle or desert, it is adapt or die. Sadly, there certainly will be some smaller businesses that will have to close their doors sooner than they would have to if Teavana never decides to move in.

However, I am suggesting that not every small tea business owner needs to fear the giant. In fact, those who are dynamic and flexible may find that Teavana will help in developing the market, and in a short time actually help the small businesses to find new customers. Yes, they will see huge amounts of clients enter the beautiful new belly of the beast, and this will cause some anxiety, and maybe even the loss of a customer or two at first. My advice may seem counter-intuitive at this point, but in the end it will help immensely. Walk into Teavana, allow their employees to waft some of their teas in your face, maybe even try one or two of the their teas. Get to know the new neighbor. Get to know their products, their marketing, their displays. Learn from them. There is much to learn from the success of others.

Some of you may notice that the term “neighbor” is being used, when the better known phrase is “know your enemy.” If the smaller tea business owners are able to adapt, and some may not even need to do much if anything to adapt, then Teavana is not going to be an enemy. Teavana is going to spend vast amounts of money in marketing and trying to expand the tea market. They will spark the curiosity of some consumers who otherwise may never experience the light of tea in the current market. They will be the lion that brings the meat, and the small tea businesses must be the crafty hyenas. In some areas, the small businesses will be able to grab large chunks of the meal, while the lion will maintain their dominance in other areas.

The fact of the matter is that smaller businesses will not be able to defeat Teavana, nor should they be interested in trying to do so. Teavana indeed has quite the selection of tea and tisane blends, but anyone who is remotely familiar with tea knows that even having one hundred options available is a drop in the bucket of the ever expanding types of tea and the endless number of tastes and blends that can be created. Whether the consumer simply gets tired of Teavana’s blends, or becomes more adventurous and seeks out more artisanal and specialty types of tea, or simply wants to see if the same money can buy better teas elsewhere, there will be plenty of consumers to pull away from the giant.

Watch for opportunities. Watch for weaknesses. They are there. I have found them. I do not see Teavana as a threat, but an exciting opportunity to launch the U.S. tea market to new heights.

Check back for the next installment of this blog series. There is much ground to cover, and much hope to spread.

Photos are courtesy of Nicole Martin of the TeaForMePlease Blog. See her review of the new Teavana Tea Bar by clicking here. Thank you very much, Nicole, for letting me use your photos.

Hē Chá Tea Now Served at Pennie’s Bake Shop & Espresso Bar!

Big News! All six of our loose leaf teas are now being served at Pennie’s Bake Shop & Espresso Bar, 800 New Castle Street, Butler, PA 16001. Delivery of our teas began this week, and I am proud to say that we are having much interest and excitement being shown by coffee shops and retail outlets that want to carry our teas. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, please take a trip out to Pennie’s and try one of our loose tea selections. While you are there, enjoy one of the many delicious baked goods. They also have an espresso bar for the coffee drinkers. Please show your support for a local business owned by great people! Thank you in advance for your support. Hē Chá!

First 30 Pounds of Tea Packed, Ready for Delivery

Hē Chá Tea is one step closer to being delivered to the first four outlets. Packing has been completed on all bulk tea canisters, and two cases of one ounce sample tins for each type of tea are ready for distribution. Once the small canister labels are printed and applied to the canisters, then the fun begins!

Hē Chá Tea Founder, Kevin Craig
Hē Chá Tea Founder, Kevin Craig

I will be picking up the large logo banner and tabletop inserts this afternoon. In the coming days, videos and tea profiles will be posted for each of our initial six tea offerings, as well as a video regarding the background of Hē Chá Tea. Things are getting very exciting around here, and I hope that you will share in my excitement. Once we know the exact four outlets that our first distribution of teas will be delivered to, I will post all of their information here as well. Keep an eye out for Hē Chá Tea. We will be in and around Pittsburgh very soon!

Our official logo.
Our official logo.

Today Brought More Exciting News…

Generally speaking, I prefer to enjoy my lunch free of distractions and business talk. However, on days like today, the business related call made me forget all about lunch. Today, I received news that a popular local coffee shop chain has agreed to carry my new line of loose teas. My initial reaction was pure happiness and excitement. My next thought was … “I need to order a lot more tea!” More details will be released soon. In the meantime, Hē Chá!

My Journey Through the World of Tea Business Begins…

You may have noticed that I have been falling behind over the past few weeks in posting tea reviews. I know you are eager to read about my journey, and I apologize for the frustration of not having daily reading material. However, it is for good reason that I have not been spending as much time writing review posts. I have been keeping details hidden while I considered the best way of writing about my journey through the world of starting a tea related business. The time has come for me to publish some details, as I am only two weeks from a dream becoming a reality.

It is official that I am developing a new line of loose teas for a very successful local coffee roaster that has been looking to get into the loose tea market. The brand name is finalized, as well as the logo. The owner of the business wanted to start conservatively, asking that I choose six loose teas to offer. I was immediately overwhelmed simply by the fact that I had to narrow the world of thousands of great teas down to six. On top of that, I had to pick six teas that will most satisfy the U.S. consumer market. Let’s be straightforward, the unfamiliar tea consumer and veteran loose tea drinkers have a rather significant gap between taste preferences. Yet, the more I thought about it, the easier the choices became. Therefore, the six types of tea have been chosen, purchased, and delivered to the warehouse. They are awaiting packaging.  Taste testing with friends, family, and others has returned very favorable results, and I am confident that our first six teas will sell well, allowing me the ability to choose another six teas in the near future.

Labels for the tea tins have been finalized, and I am sending the print order very soon. I expect our products to be in multiple coffee shops in the Pittsburgh area on the first week of October. I would love to share photos of everything, but until the trademarks are secured, I do not want to compromise anything. The Tea Journeyman will also be acknowledged on some of the packaging and marketing materials. Don’t worry, I will have a personal logo developed so you all do not have to look at my real face constantly. This is not an insult to myself, simply an acknowledgement that people get tired of seeing the same face over and over and over again, and I hope that you will see my products over and over and over.

Needless to say, I am incredibly excited, and have been putting many many hours into this project. As more details are finalized, and trademarks secured, I will begin providing more details and photos. I will leave you with one expression … Hē Chá!