What’s Brewing? – Kombucha Town, Jade Leaf, Gong Cha and SiteZeus

Kombucha Town boasts proprietary formulations, production processes. Photo: Courtesy of Kombucha Town.

“What’s Brewing?” is a World Tea News round-up of recent happenings, news and factoids from the global tea industry.

Here’s what’s notable:

Kombucha Town Raises Expansion Capital on StartEngine

Kombucha Town is working on taking traditional kombucha to a whole new level through its time-tested proprietary formulations and production process. It’s the Founder and CEO Chris McCoy's vision to replace unhealthy sugary beverages with innovative healthy alternatives.

Present day, the company is generating revenue with impressive year-over-year sales growth thanks to their retail presence in Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Kroger, Sprouts and Harris Teeter, among other food and beverage retailers. In addition, they have a robust ecommerce operation, shipping products directly to customers coast to coast.

To capitalize on kombucha’s upward trend, Kombucha Town plans to expand its product offerings to include a line of alcoholic products, a youth-oriented line of kombucha, performance enhancing recovery drinks and more.

Kombucha Town is currently focused on equity crowdfunding through StartEngine, so anyone can become an investor in the beverage producer. So far, the company has raised more than $113,000 (as of publication) at StartEngine.com/KombuchaTown.

To learn more, visit KombuchaTown.com.

WM Partners Acquires Jade Leaf, LLC

WM Partners announced that HPH II Investments Master Fund, LP, together with its parallel and feeder funds ("HPH II"), through its wholly owned entity, has acquired Jade Leaf, LLC, a category leader for matcha green tea products in the United States. WM Partners is a certified diverse-owned private equity firm focused on investing in lower-middle market companies and driving value creation in the health and wellness sector.

Headquartered in Seattle, Wash. Jade Leaf was founded in 2014 as a partnership between two friends who are passionate about matcha green tea and committed to sourcing high quality, organic and affordable Japanese matcha products.

Jade Leaf created a brand rooted in fair pricing, quality and transparency, and cultivated relationships with partners in Japan to build the broadest network of family-run tea farms. This sourcing network, known as the Kizuna Tea Collective, stretches across Japan's premiere growing regions, where its members have been cultivating high quality matcha green tea since 1858.

Jade Leaf sells premium quality, organic Japanese matcha tea in a range of pure grades, as well as blended products. Its matcha is plant based, organic, non-gmo, keto and paleo friendly, and Whole30 approved. The company sells its products through major retailers in the natural, conventional and mass channels, including Target, Walmart, Whole Foods and Sprouts. Jade Leaf is also a top seller on Amazon, and it sells direct to consumers, foodservice and wholesale clients on its website.

To learn more, visit JadeLeaf.com and wmplp.com.

Gong Cha Taps SiteZeus to Accelerate U.S. Expansion

U.K.-based Gong Cha is one of the most recognized bubble tea brands in the world. The company has carefully crafted that success on a foundation of premium quality teas sourced from the finest tea estates in Taiwan. Since it was founded in 2006, Gong Cha has expanded to more than 19 countries with nearly 1,400 locations worldwide, including 105 stores in the United States. Recently, SiteZeus announced that it’s excited to be helping the company rapidly and efficiently scale up its multi-unit footprint across the U.S.

"We believe having the right tools and technology in place is essential to meeting our growth goals in the U.S.," says Einar Gustafsson, CEO of Gong Cha America/Europe. "We chose to work with SiteZeus, because their platform helps us to very quickly understand not only where to locate our stores, but why those locations are the best suited. The reasoning behind those location decisions is an important key to success in today's data-driven business environment," added Gustafsson.

SiteZeus will play a pivotal role in assisting Gong Cha with its market penetration studies. How many Gong Cha stores can a market such as Miami or Tampa support? Where should new stores be positioned to avoid cannibalization of sales on existing locations? SiteZeus' A.I. powered platform helps conduct studies to determine the optimal number of stores in a given market. SiteZeus has the ability to run these studies accurately within minutes, allowing multi-unit brands such as Gong Cha gain a speed to market advantage and move ahead confidently with its go-to-market strategy.

International brands often face some tough challenges when stepping into the competitive U.S. market, according to SiteZeus. Brands need to adapt market planning and location strategy to fit what are often drastic differences in culture and consumer behavior. For Gong Cha, identifying pockets of customers who have an affinity for bubble tea in a country where there is a coffee shop on every corner is no easy task.

"Brands are fascinated at the speed and accuracy at which A.I. platform builds market planning models. They also get tremendous value from the on-demand support services that comes along with that SiteZeus subscription," said SiteZeus CEO Hannibal Baldwin. "Our support services help users hit the ground running with highly sophisticated analysis, which allows them to focus their attention on the decision making that drives thoughtful, strategic and successful expansion."

To learn more, visit SiteZeus.com and Gong-Cha.com/en.