Exotic teas are alluring. Coffee jump-starts your senses, orange juice pads your immune system, and hot tea warms the soul, or so people believe. If there are any Eastern Hemisphere teas that hold karmatic value, Teatulia would be the one. All of Teatulia’s leaves are grown and harvested from a single garden in Bangladesh by a community of local farmers. SmartBrief talked to Linda Appel Lipsius, co-founder and CEO of Teatulia, about the company. Teatulia will be at Booth #6478 at the NRA Show 2011, May 21-24.
What are some benefits that Teatulia has brought to the community surrounding its garden in Bangladesh?
The garden was started in an existing community so it brought jobs to a region that seriously lacked them. Most tea gardens were set up ages ago and bring in people from far away to work the land. Also, in order to get enough cow dung to fertilize the entire 2,000-acre farm, we need loads of cows. A cattle cooperative has been set up that provides cows to members of the community, who in turn provide the garden with natural fertilizer. The women get fresh milk for their families, can sell the excess milk and get to keep (or sell) any calves that the cow has.
How did Teatulia break into the U.S. market? It seems like a daunting task for a single-garden operation in Bangladesh.
Everything Teatulia represents – garden to cup, organic, sustainability, healthy – is right in line with where the tea and the food market is going in the U.S. When I sat in on a lecture at the 2008 World Tea Expo that highlighted the garden-to-cup trend, I realized that Teatulia was ahead of the curve. So I took the story to Whole Foods Rocky Mountain and Table 6 in Denver and they gave us a chance. We support the line heavily with demos, team training and PR, which gets staff and customers engaged and supportive (while learning more about the amazing world of tea!).
What makes Teatulia teas different from teas grown in other parts of the world?
Like wine, coffee and other agricultural products, the growing region affects the flavor of teas. Soil conditions, altitude, rainfall, hours of sunlight and other elements all come into play. Teatulia teas have a clean, fresh taste, full body and a sweet, smooth finish. Also, our garden is relatively young so we have strong, vibrant tea plants, which affects the flavor.
How has the company changed since you started it 10 years ago?
The garden started in 2000, but Teatulia has only been on the market in the U.S. since 2009. I had originally figured that we’d only target hardcore tea drinkers. However, the taste of Teatulia teas is so smooth, and Teatulia’s story is so compelling, that I think we have made more than a few converts to tea!