Need to Know (Dec. 30, 2013)

What tea professionals need to start the week.

TEABIZ-DrazilKidsTeaSupport tea innovator Christine Wheeler, founder of Drazil Kids Tea, as she competes Tuesday (Dec. 31) for the Dream Big America prize… Sri Lanka will pass the $1.5 billion mark for tea exports, setting a record… British Airways has perfected a tea that tastes great at 35,000 feet… India’s tea plantations will lose subsidies on food grains for workers…. Assam will star in a documentary on its historical importance in the commercialization of tea… Farmer Brothers launches a premium hot tea line… and BevNovations unveils Silence Tea to help you relax…


Farmer Bros. Co. has launched a new line of Premium and Select hot teas. The Premium and Select lines feature a full range of high quality black, green, and herbal teas in both classic and exotic flavors. This latest release from Farmer Brothers offers operators a comprehensive line of hot teas catering to the preferences of nearly 85 percent of U.S. tea drinkers.

Tea offerings in full-service restaurants have grown 53 percent as consumers increasingly look for a hot tea option, particularly at breakfast, according to research cited by the company.

TEABIZ-FarmerBrothersPremiumTea_LivelyLemon“Even factoring in the cost of typical disposable cups (8oz. hot cups) and common sweeteners like sugar and zero-calorie alternatives, both hot and iced tea can provide up to an 80 percent profit margin on these beverages, making these tea lines a high-value addition to most menus,” according to Data Essentials, Proprietary Study.

Packaging has been completely redesigned to enhance consumer quality perceptions.

Source: Farmer Bros. Co.

Relaxation tea

TEABIZ-SilenceTeaMarketing experts BevNovations this month launched Silence Tea a 16-oz. bottled blend that “combines the finest tea leaves in the world with other natural ingredients known to soothe the mind, body and spirit.” The all-natural beverage activates the seven Chakras and is the first line of relaxation and calming beverages with essential vitamins and antioxidants, according to the company. The decaffeinated teas contain Chamomile and Theanine. The tea is available in four low-sugar flavors: Pomegranate Black Tea, Peach White Tea, Lemon Black Tea, and Honey Green Tea. It will be stocked in gourmet, natural and specialty food stores, grocery and convenience outlets, according to BevNovations. Learn more: Silence Tea


Subsidized grain deliveries cut

Tea plantation owners in Assam were notified that beginning next month they must purchase food grains at market prices for 800,000 workers until they are covered under National Food Security Act (NFSA). Implementation of NFSA will be delayed until February.

Eligibility cards are to be given workers by Feb. 15 with distribution of food grains unlikely to begin before March 2014, according to The Business Standard. Garden owners are provided subsidized grains in bulk at prices about one third of market rate from the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

“I don’t understand stopping the food grain allocation now,” Dipanjol Deka, secretary of Tea Association of India (TAI) told the newspaper. “Furthermore, I am doubtful if they will be able to roll out NFSA by March. Do you think our state government has become so efficient,” he asked.

Deka said that he fears that if supplies are stopped even for a brief period, it will fuel unrest and violence in tea gardens. Switching to a new system of procurement all of a sudden for such huge quantities would not be practically feasible, he said.

Assam’s government is currently distributing 7000 metric tons of rice and 5000 metric tons of wheat per month to growers a practice that began in 1950.

Source: The Business Standard

Assam in the limelight

Tea was commercially planted first in Assam which remains the world’s greatest concentration of tea bushes. This month the Tea Board of India agreed to finance an historical documentary film, dating to the discovery of tea there by Scottish adventurer Robert Bruce.

SEE: Namsang Tea Estate for the story of Robert Bruce and Maniram Dewan.

The film was proposed by Bidyananda Barkakoty, a representative of the Joint Forum of Assam Tea Planters’ Association (ATPA), North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) and Bharatiya Cha Parishad (BCP).  The board allocated $6,500 for the project.

Sources: Times of India

Sri Lanka tea exports reach $1.5 billion

Strong demand for Sri Lanka’s Ceylon tea will generate $1.5 billion in exports this year.

Siyaka Research estimated the country had exported 290.6 million kilos through November and would exceed 320 million kilos by year end.

Top export destinations include Russia and Iran and Syria and Libya despite civil unrest. Prices held firm despite a glut of black tea in Kenya where prices in Mombasa fell to a four-year low.

Sri Lanka exported $1.49 billion of tea in 2011 and $1.40 billion in 2012.

Source: Lanka Business Today and The Daily News


Several studies demonstrate that food and beverages are a third less tasty at 35,000 feet.

This is due to low cabin pressure that decreases the ability of taste buds to detect saltiness and sweet and to dry air that reduces our sense of smell.

British Airways has introduced a blend of Assam, Kenyan and high-grown Ceylon that enhances the flavors and aroma of tea bringing it in line with the experience of earthbound tasters. The tea is served on flights originating in Mumbai. Learn more: DNA India


TEABIZ-DrazilKidsTea_BoxDrazil Kids Tea competes in startup competition

Christine Wheeler, co-founder of Drazil Kids Tea, a naturally caffeine-free organic blend of herbal teas infused with fruit juices, is a finalist in the Dream Big America competition, a live nationally syndicated radio show pitting startup business ventures against each other.

Wheeler was the top vote-getter Dec. 16, securing a spot in the Dec. 31 Finals Show. Drazil Kids Tea contains 50% fewer calories and 35% less sugar than most kids beverages. There is no added sugar as all sugar comes naturally from the fruit juices. It also provides a good source of antioxidants and 100% daily value of vitamin C.

Get In The Ring: The American Startup Clash was founded by the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship. It provides exceptional entrepreneurs an opportunity to compete against founders from across the country and around the world.

“Get In The Ring perfectly aligns with our mission at Dream Big America,” explained host Doug Stephan. “Each Tuesday we showcase the amazing entrepreneurs in the country, and give them a chance to share their story with America.”

Dream Big America airs from 9:10 to 9:40 a.m. ET on Tuesdays on the Doug Stephan’s Good Day Program which is syndicated in more than 500 markets across the U.S. It has a weekly listening audience of 3.5 million. The show can also be heard via live podcast on the website.

Voting begins immediately after the show at 10 a.m. ET and continues for 28 hours until 2 p.m. Wednesday. Voting is by text (Text DBA to 612-22-DREAM (612-223-7326)). Learn more at: Dream Big America

Founders questions answered by Christine Wheeler on the Dream Big website:

1. How do you define success?

For me, success is not just about the outcome, it’s also about the journey. It’s reaching for the goals you set out for yourself both personally and professionally. Of course no one reaches every goal but it’s that desire to make and pursue goals that’s important. My favorite quote is, “I never said it was going to be easy. I said it was going to be worth it.” This applies to all aspects of life – starting a business, raising kids, eating healthy, etc. Life is not always easy but dreaming big and striving for those dreams is what a successful life is all about.

2. What has been your proudest moment as a founder?

My proudest moment came in one of the company’s darkest hours. We had a major setback right at launch. The delay would be at least 6 months and make us lose all the momentum we had going. Most teams would have fallen apart at this moment, especially given the long road it took us to get to this point. Not the Drazil team. We pulled together, figured out what we had to do, and then invested a lot of additional time to get it done. I had such a sense of pride, knowing that I had a great team and that we created a product that we all believed in.

3. What has been the toughest decision you’ve made during your time as a founder?

The toughest decision I made was not to roll out with our initial product. Drazil had been in a small test market and just got accepted into a large distributor that would have dramatically increased our number of stores. While the product was selling pretty well and consumers loved the idea of a kids’ tea, I felt there were still changes we needed to make to better meet the needs of consumers. The beverage category is so competitive that we needed to launch with the best product possible. Thus, we took everything we learned from the test market and developed the current Drazil Kids Tea line. Looking back, I am very happy I made the tough decision not to launch and instead, spend the time and money to reformulate our initial product.

4. What have you learned about yourself during this startup process?

I learned that I could not have done it without the support of family and friends. While starting a business is thrilling and fun, there is a level of stress that never goes away. Not to mention, there will always be set backs. Having the support of my family and friends has helped me get through the tough times. I believe staying positive and keeping strong mentally will enable you to win most of the battles faced as an entrepreneur.

5. What advice would you give to another budding startup company?

Do your homework first. Understand the market you are entering, the consumer need and the current competition. Don’t be dismayed if you find a similar product but make sure you understand how your product or service can compete and win against the competition.

6. What are your next milestones as a company? What kind of support and resources do you need to achieve these milestones? 

With our initial angel investment, we worked hard to get the concept and product right and prove it out in market. Our launch in Northern California helped us better understand the marketing expenditures needed to generate trial and awareness. Now we want to obtain additional funding in order to expand Drazil Kids Tea to other western states and generate sales in larger retailers.

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Editor | Publisher | Podcaster | Consultant | Journalist Dan is the founder of Tea Journey Magazine, the Tea Biz Podcast and Blog, and a contributing editor at STiR coffee and tea. He is the former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine, former editor and publisher of World Tea News, and former editor-in-chief at Specialty Coffee Retailer, then headquartered in San Francisco. Dan has traveled the tea lands, speaking on retail beverage trends in Canada and the United States and at conferences in Europe, China, India, Australia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa.