Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 42

Tea News for the Week of Nov. 5 - A New Theory on How Green Tea Promotes Longevity | The Bubble Tea Business is Frothing Globally | Assam Smallholder Collective Debuts Equifarm Tea Brand | PLUS AVPA Gold Medalists Discuss their Winning Teas and SAMA Tea CEO Michael Parisi on how he used AI to help formulate new adaptogenic blends

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| A New Theory on How Green Tea Promotes Longevity
| The Bubble Tea Business is Frothing Globally
| Assam Smallholder Collective Debuts Equifarm Tea Brand

Seven-minute Tea News Recap


This week Tea Biz travels to Miami, Florida to the offices of SAMA Tea where CEO Michael Parisi uses artificial intelligence to create new functional blends. SAMA’s CLAIRE platform is programmed to discover whitespace for new tea products, provide marketing insights based on consumer behavior. It even lists trending ingredients to consider in formulating the company’s new line of adaptogenic teas…

Then we Zoom called two of the winners of the AVPA’s 4th Teas of the World Contest, starting in Crete, Greece where Jessica Natale Woollard spoke to the family-owners of Tofillo Farms, gold medal winners in the botanicals category.

Then to Miaoli, Taiwan where Dan congratulates five-medal winner Rick Chang at the Xuejian plantation where he produces authentic bug-bitten Oriental Beauty oolong.

Jay and Radhi Devlukia-Shetty co-founders SAMA Tea
Jay and Radhi Devlukia-Shetty co-founders SAMA Tea

Delicious by Design

By Dan Bolton

SAMA is an adaptogenic tea brand made delicious by design, according to SAMA CEO Michael Parisi, co-founder of, an artificial intelligence-powered brand creation platform used to parse millions of retail data signals such as product reviews and consumer beverage trends. Applying insights gleaned from this vast reservoir led to the recent launch of four purpose-driven tea blends inspired by Ayurveda and crafted to help balance the mind, body, and heart. The teas are sold in samplers or by subscription. Parisi spoke with Tea Biz from SAMA’s company headquarters in Miami, via Zoom.

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SAMA CEO Michael Parisi uses artificial intelligence to create new functional blends.
Malotira "Mountain Tea" from Tofillo, Crete
Malotira “Mountain Tea” from Tofillo, Crete

Native Malotira Tea from Crete Wins Gold

By Jessica Natale Woollard

High in the White Mountains on the island of Crete grows malotira, an ancient herb with small yellow flowers used to make Cretan Mountain Tea. Rodo Vasilaki and her husband and business partner Nikos Psyllakis grow the herb on 30-acres of family-run farms that are dotted across the island. Their Malotira Tea, known locally as tsai tou vounou and by the Latin name Sideritis syriaca, won gourmet gold at the 4th AVPA Teas of The World contest. Another one of their teas, Pink Healer, featuring Cretan sage and pink rockrose, earned a “gourmet” distinction. Read more…

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Xue Jian Oolong Tea farm in Miaoli, Taiwan
Xue Jian Oolong Tea farm in Miaoli, Taiwan

Taiwan High Mountain Oolongs Earn Multiple Gold Medals

By Dan Bolton

Miaoli is a city of 89,000 nestled in the mountains of western Taiwan. The region is home to the Hakka, an indigenous tribe employed in the cultivation of tea since the early 1900s. Gardens in the area are famous for producing Oriental Beauty, an oolong that depends on the bite of the tea leafhopper to develop its honey fragrance and honeysuckle taste. Rick Chang is director at Xue Jian, a tea plantation situated at 4,500 feet altitude that produces oolong and black tea. The company first competed in the AVPA contest 2018, winning a gold medal that year and at least once every year since. Read more…

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Rick Chang Xue Jian Oolong Tea


A New Theory on How Green Tea Promotes Longevity

By Dan Bolton

Researchers at ETH Zürich have discovered that green tea catechins are not passive antioxidants but pro-oxidants that act to strengthen cells against attack by free radicals, leading to longer life and greater fitness.

Initially, the presence of green tea catechins increases oxidative stress for a short while which has the subsequent effect of strengthening the defensive capabilities of the cells and the organism, according to study leader Dr. Michael Ristow, professor for Energy Metabolism at the University’s Department of Health Sciences and Technology.

“Catechins, aren’t in fact antioxidants, but rather pro-oxidants that improve the organism’s ability to defend itself, similar to a vaccination,” said Ristow. “Green tea activates genes that produce certain enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CTL) that deactivate free radicals in nematodes, the test organisms chosen for the study,” he explained. 

The findings from the study translate well to humans, said Ristow. “The basic biochemical processes by which organisms neutralize oxygen free radicals are conserved in the evolution history and are present in everything from unicellular yeast to humans,” he said.

His findings appear in the October issue of the peer-reviewed journal Aging.

Learn more…

  • Tian J, Geiss C, Zarse K, Madreiter- Sokolowski CT, Ristow M: Green tea catechins EGCG and ECG enhance the fitness and lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans by complex I inhibition. Aging, 2021 Oct 4;13. doi: 10.18632/aging.203597call_made
From left, Sabin Narzary,  Sanibar Boro, Assaigra Boro, Thapsa Boro, Baburam Daimary, Pijush Goyary, Ajith Boro, Bijoy Boro, Kukhol Boro,  J. John, Minto Goswami,  and Sanjwrang Basumatary.

Assam Smallholder Collective Launches National Tea Brand

By Roopak Goswami

Subsistence growers with generations of experience understand how to cultivate tea but are held back by their inability to process, package, and ship larger quantities. Few ever advance beyond the constraining role of supplying profit-driven bought leaf factories. 

Grassroots Tea in New Delhi aggregates, repacks, wholesales, and retails authentic teas supplied by collectives and helps smallholders secure financing to establish Tea Producer Companies. TPCs then partner with the collectives to operate mini-factories that each process 2,500 kilos of green leaf to make 500 kilos of tea a day. Smallholders become producer stakeholders and ag entrepreneurs. Last week Grassroots debuted the equifarm brand on Amazon India. Equifarm teas range in price from $4.85 to $8.15 (INRs 605) for 250 grams. Unlike most smallholders — who receive perhaps a tenth of the retail price — growers supplying equifarm tea receive a far greater percentage of what consumers pay. This is because Grassroots Tea and lenders enable stakeholders to earn significantly more money by adding value close to origin. Read more…

Philipping-based Jollibee buys controlling shares of Milkshop, Taiwan.
Philippine-based Jollibee buys a controlling share of Milkshop, Taiwan.

The Bubble Tea Business is Frothing Globally

Manila-based Jollibee Foods Corp. this week acquired a majority stake, paying $12.8 million for one of Taiwan’s largest bubble tea companies, the latest of many investments fueling the global expansion of the multi-billion segment.

The 250-location Milkshop International, founded in 2008, operates 231 units in Taiwan and the remainder in Singapore, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Vancouver, Canada. Milkshop grew revenue by 12% compared to 2019 generating $75 million in sales in 2020.

Jollibee, which operates 5,853 outlets in 34 countries, announced that the investment “gives JFC the opportunity to participate in this fast-growing beverage category.” Milkshop drinks are offered in three Jollibee locations.

Kung Fu Tea, founded in 2010 in Queens, New York operates 250 locations in the US. Gong Cha operates 1,400 stores including 36 North American locations. In September ChaTime, Taiwan’s largest bubble tea brand with 1,200 locations in 50 countries, announced a major expansion in the US.

The global market, valued at $2.2 billion in 2019, is rebounding from an acute shortage of tapioca pearls that followed lockdowns in 2020. Fans worldwide adopted a self-imposed “one boba” per day limit during a period when Taiwan halted the water-intensive manufacturing of pearls to conserve water during a two-year drought. Taiwan manufacturers 90% of the world’s favorite boba-sized black tapioca pearls.

Technavio estimates the global market will grow at a compound annual rate of 6.5%, adding $942 billion in sales by 2025. Fortune Business Insights predicts $3.9 billion in sales by 2027. Market leaders include Kung Fu Tea, Gong Cha, Chatime, ShareTea, and Coco Fresh.

Biz Insight –  There are now 20,000 bubble tea outlets in the US and the drinks are sold at another 30,000 restaurants including Sonic and Dunkin. Jollibee operates 69 US stores. The US market for bubble was estimated at $240 million in 2020 and displaying every indication of continued growth. For example, San Francisco-based Boba Guys now manufacture their tapioca pearls in the US. 

 Dan Bolton

In Memoriam

Peter G.W. Keen
Prof. Peter G. W. Keen, a brilliant educator, and author with a passion for tea passed Oct. 26. Keen was born in Singapore, educated at Oxford, and taught at Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. He published more than 30 scholarly books during his 79 years, including three books on tea along with many hundreds of magazine and online articles about his beloved brew. A celebration of life is planned for spring 2022.
Click to read his obituary.

  • Read more… links indicate the article continues. Learn more… links to additional information from reliable outside sources.
Tea Price Report
Oct 30 – Sale 43

India Tea Price Watch | Sale 43

In North India, Kolkata saw good demand for all tea types. Among buyers, the Middle East was active for orthodox tea while HUL and TCPL were active for CTC and dust. In Darjeeling, more broken and fannings found takers this week. Guwahati also saw good demand with major blenders active for both leaf and dust. Siliguri also saw good demand for tea, as it did the previous week. In the south, Coonoor saw good demand for CTC leaf with nearly 96% on offer sold. Cochin and Coimbatore saw better uptake for dust. Of the 692 kilos of green tea on offer at Coonoor, only 173 kilos sold at INRs 200 per kilo. Read more…

Aravinda Anantharaman

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Tea News and Biz Insights – December 3, 2021 Tea Biz

HEAR THE HEADLINES – Ekaterra Tea Underway | India Steps up Efforts to Halt Illegal Imports | Chinese Archaeologists Discover Oldest Tea Yet | NEWSMAKER – John Davison, CEO ekaterra tea | FEATURES – This week Tea Biz travels to Singapore for a conversation with John Davison, CEO of ekaterra tea, soon to be the largest tea company in the world. Ekaterra is currently a division of Unilever that houses 34 tea brands including Lipton, PG Tips, TAZO, Brooke Bond, Pukka, and Red Rose. In November CVC Capital Partners, a multi-billion private equity firm headquartered in Luxembourg, paid $5.1 billion for ekaterra tea, outbidding several competitors and establishing a valuation based on 14x earnings before taxes and depreciation. Regulatory and antitrust reviews will take six months to complete. Ekaterra's First Steps – John Davison joined Unilever in March 2021 to carve out the company’s underperforming tea portfolio. Davison discusses the urgency of improving tea quality and adopting sustainable initiatives along the entire supply chain. Listen to his plans for reenergizing the world's largest tea company.
  1. Tea News and Biz Insights – December 3, 2021
  2. Tea News and Biz Insights – November 25, 2021
  3. Tea News and Biz Insights – November 19, 2021
  4. Tea News and Biz Insights – November 12, 2021
  5. Tea News and Biz Insights – November 5, 2021

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