Born from a humble cup of tea, Teas Etc opened in August of 1998 and has grown with the evolution of tea in North America and beyond.
Beginning in a garage primarily selling at Farmers Markets, we grew our customer base through aggressive grass roots marketing, a lot of early mornings, many samples of tea, tons of education, and tremendous customer loyalty–for which we continue to be grateful.
Traveling to China in those early days helped form the commitment to origin authenticity and premium quality. That commitment to quality and supply chain transparency spawned the development of a network of farmers and purveyors beginning in China and later extending to other tea producing regions.
We continue to offer origin authentic specialty teas of premium quality, many of which are still processed by hand. This also allows us to better educate tea drinkers at home while honoring the skill and artistry of the craftsmen at origin.
As our awareness grew, so did the need to become more aligned with food safety standards, import best practices, and certifications such as USDA National Organic Program (NOP) achieved in 2007.
Becoming an active part of the tea industry at the urging of early mentors led to membership in the American Premium Tea Institute–now Specialty Tea Institute–and participating in the World Tea Expo. Discovering an industry with opportunities and challenges, the need for strong advocacy, and a united voice led to roles on industry boards, education committees, contributing to publications, and participation in educating those new to tea on a national stage. Grateful for the support of many (men), Beth has since mentored other women, supporting and encouraging them to share their knowledge and to have a voice in tea. These activities also gave the company the national recognition it was hoping for.
Out of the garage and into a commercial location (while still primarily serving consumers), the company reevaluated its path. A reputation built on providing premium quality straight teas, Teas Etc. was selling a handful of flavored teas that were being sourced in Germany. The reality that flavored teas were far outselling straight, in combination with the desire for growth and further transparency (coupled with the belief that quality flavored teas were missing in the market) drove the decision to bring all flavoring in-house. While not diligently thought out, we quickly learned that flavoring is not simple, and while it is a daily function now, it took a couple of years to really achieve quality results; like our Pear Spice White Organic, first place winner in the North American Tea Championship (NATC)
The development of small batch, on-trend flavors and blends continue to further distinguish our offerings. This shift has allowed us to hone our creativity and focus on creating custom products that exceed adding a petal or two to an already existing formula.
‘Our Story’ would not be complete without at least a mention of the multiple awards and recognitions Teas Etc. has received over the years. One of the accomplishments we are most proud of is our World Tea Championship (now North American Tea Championship) wins, beginning in 2008 with our first place Herbal Blend. A year later, we achieved tremendous success winning first place in Assam and Ceylon Signature categories and second place recognition in Yunnan, also ‘Signature!’ It was at that award ceremony that the industry began to take notice.
To be a part of an industry that is so connected to the earth gives us a certain responsibility to support the environment. We do so with financial and tangible initiatives; our annual financial contribution to CarbonFund.org and the option for customers to contribute, as well as the development of a recycling program for the business park at our location. Our space buildout was done with eco-friendly, recyclable materials, and whatever wasn’t used was donated to Habitat for Humanity. We appreciate the support the local community has given. We give back in small ways; working with the disabled and local halfway houses on special projects and long term employment initiatives. Most passionately we support the efforts of Shoppe 561 who gives tirelessly to the young women and girls who are victims of human trafficking, an epidemic that is more prevalent than most of us realize.
Our Story hasn’t yet come to a close. There are more teas to be discovered, people to meet, places to go and cups to consume. As a pioneer for women in the industry, Beth continues to spend time at origin cultivating her palate and honing her tea skills. When asked about her travels, Beth replied
“Meeting with many farmers and processors that take such pride in the teas they are creating stirs something inside. You begin to understand that tea is not just tea, it is skill. That the people that grow and process specialty tea are the craftsmen. That these important skills are often passed down from one generation to the next. Not the type of jobs that are highly sought after in western cultures, they become increasingly at risk around the world based on economic circumstances. Growers can be forced to produce lower quality, less expensive teas to feed their families. It doesn’t require a trip to origin to understand that paying a premium for quality allows it to flourish. If consumers want to impact tea on a larger scale, preserving the art of tea making, they must begin to understand all that is required to make a single quality cup.”