Tea Tycoons: World Tea Virtual Summit Selects Finalists

Drink Me! Tearoom, one of the finalists in the Tea Tycoons program at the World Tea Virtual Summit, offers organic, loose-leaf tea in a variety of flavor profiles. Customers can also choose their own "tea party" by selecting numerous teas to sample, before making a larger purchase. (Photo: Courtesy of Drink Me! Tearoom)

World Tea Virtual Summit: Strategies for Success, taking place March 15-16, 2021, named nine international tea businesses as finalists in the event’s Tea Tycoons program.

The new Tea Tycoons program is geared toward celebrating and honoring emerging small businesses that are producing innovative products for the global tea industry. Attendees will hear more about the finalists during the upcoming summit (see details about the finalists below), and judges will evaluate each of the businesses and declare one winner in each category.

More than 70 entries for Tea Tycoons were submitted from around the world.

In addition to Tea Tycoons, the upcoming summit will address key issues to support tea businesses. Registration (free for all attendees) can be found at
WorldTeaExpo.com/VirtualSummitSponsors include: KureTea, Hands of Sage, Erika’s Tea Room, Menna and Araska Tea Garden.

‘Tycoon’ Winners to Be Announced
Winners of the Tea Tycoons program will be declared in the following three categories:

1. Innovation – a dynamic new idea, method or device that demonstrates clear value for tea industry.

2. Green/Sustainability – a business that focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

3. Unique Customer Engagement – a company that creates a fresh approach to client/customer relationships, to foster brand loyalty and awareness.

“This is the first year of the World Tea Virtual Summit Tea Tycoons, and I’m so excited about it,” said FaithAnn Bailes, content manager for the summit, as well as the World Tea Conference + Expo.  “I had the honor of interacting with all of the finalists, listening to how their dreams have come to fruition, and learning about their plans for the future. It gives me a sense of hope for the future of the global tea industry, and I can hardly wait to see what happens in the years to come as these businesses grow and prosper.”

Bailes added, “Congratulations to all the finalists of this year’s Tea Tycoons. We are all cheering you on and wish for your continued success. We look forward to see you all at the upcoming World Tea Virtual Summit, where we’ll name the winners.”

FINALISTS
The three finalists in each Tea Tycoons category (nine finalists total) include:

Innovation:


Hemp Oz
Hemp Oz Founder John Leith admits he never imagined he would craft Australia’s first Hemp Kombucha beverage. When Leith was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, he ditched sugary drinks in search for a healthier lifestyle. With advice from health professionals, he combined the gut-health benefits of kombucha with the complete nutritional package of hemp oil to create his own healthy beverage. After drinking his Hemp Kombucha every day for five weeks, his Type 2 Diabetes disappeared. Doctors were stunned and Leith was inspired. Today, Hemp Oz is proudly 100 percent Australian-owned and operated, and the company uses local organic ingredients to produce wholly sustainable products, including Hemp Oz Kombucha and Hemp Soothing Teas.


East Forged
Two competing tea specialists meet by chance at Melbourne's International Coffee Expo – Tania Stacey in Melbourne and Kym Cooper in Brisbane. An unlikely alliance developed over a shared passion to create a modern tea beverage, and the journey of East Forged began. Stacey and Cooper said they wanted to challenge the old ideas of cold tea drinks. So, they drew upon their tea knowledge, decided upon flavor profiles, and locked in quality tea leaves from their favorite suppliers before experimenting and bringing their innovative drink to life. Some 18 months later, after numerous unanswered calls to potential partners, they found an independent craft brewer that was keen to work with them. Beer-making processes were added to their idea, to create an innovative mouthfeel and finish. Their challenge to disrupt cold tea beverages had gone beyond their original idea, and the final crafted beverage become a non-alcoholic brew to suit adult-tastes with tea as the hero ingredient. The innovative beverage also has no added sugar, artificial flavors or colors, and is low in calories.


Steeped Games
Stepped Games started in 2019, and they’ve since sold more than 15,000 copies of their unique tea board game, “Chai.” The company – which also produces the board game “Chai: High Tea,” says it's been a delight meeting many tea and board game lovers at dozens of conventions, and they’re eager to share more board games in the future, including “Chai: Tea for 2” (2021) and more titles in 2021 and 2022. Steeped Games points out that its values are embodied (or steeped) in each of their games, which are all designed to be imaginative, immersive and inclusive. Overall, the creators at Steeped Games are an energetic bunch who are truly passionate about creating memorable, immersive board games surrounding tea. Their core team members are rooted in Canada, and they have talented artists in the United States, India and worldwide.


Green Sustainability:

Chixotic
Tea company Chixotic was launched to enrich the lives of tea lovers all around the world with unique, authentic and exotic teas, while concurrently supporting the livelihood of African farmers. Chixotic’s Purple Tranquilitea comes from Kenya, the only country in the world that can grow purple tea. The company notes that Kenya is well-known for its unique tropical climate and extremely high elevations, which allow tea plants to thrive in deep, rich soil and retain higher levels of antioxidants than tea grown in other parts of the world. Purple Tranquilitea contains more antioxidants than any other tea from the camellia sinensis tea plant, is 100 percent all-natural and free of artificial colors and flavors. The company’s mission is to provide tea lovers a unique and authentic African tea experience, while supporting and empowering the tea growers who make it all possible. The company is also a strong advocate for fair labor practices and sustainability, and it only works with tea farms that are Fair Trade Certified and Rain Forest Alliance Certified. As tea is a major source of income in Kenya, it is very important to Chixotic that the environment and natural resources used to grow Chixotic tea are well maintained. Chixotic also donates a portion of its profit to The Harvest Fund, an organization that provides training and financial assistance to marginalized African women in agriculture.


Langkloof Honeybush Co. / Grounded
While cycling through China and Southeast Asia, Thekla Teunis was struck by the erratic state of agricultural lands in one of Earth’s most fertile regions. Some were vibrant and thriving and existing in harmony with nature, while others were taxed and over-utilized, leaching from the ecosystem at large. After weeks of witnessing that contrast, it was clear to Teunis that deterioration was a choice – not an inevitably. In 2014, Teunis teamed up with Commonland, an organization dedicated to the large-scale restoration of degraded landscapes. The following year, Teunis met Gijs Boers in Zambia. A passionate advocate of regenerative farming, Boers had spent the previous three years traveling the world to work with farmers and study best practices. With a shared vision for sustainable agriculture and a kindred spirit of adventure, the two teamed up to help farmers restore their soils, hoping this would also promote fairer economies and more robust food systems. Grounded was born. The company’s mission is to support farmers in their transition towards regenerative agriculture and help buyers access high-quality, ethical products. One of the key products that Grounded supports is Honeybush Tea from Langkloof Honeybush Co. Honeybush grows in the Langkloof in South Africa, where it's sustainably harvested from wild plants from the mountains and successfully cultivated on farmlands. The caffeine-free tea is produced by fermenting the species, which has a sweet honey flavor and several health-promoting properties.


Kib Tea
Kib Tea offers herbal teas that are planet-positive and flavor-forward. The company grows their herbs in a regenerative way that creates better soil, better plants and better flavor. And with that kind of high-quality herbs, they don't have to add anything but the tea bag. The company aims to be part of a movement that's reimagining life on this planet by embracing circular systems and ways of growing that give back as much as they take. Kib partners directly with a network of 220 smallholder farmers in Ethiopia. They help their partner farmers grow in “food forests” – or small plots of land, and most are half the size of a football pitch – that have been densely and diversely planted with crops. That means Kib fields are a biodiverse mix of tree crops – like avocados, vegetables and, of course, herbs. All the company's packaging is designed to keep circulating with compostable tea bags and recyclable cartons and envelopes. Kib teas include: “chamomile, lemon balm, lavender”; “mint, lemongrass, moringa”; “cinnamon, cardamom, cloves”; “hibiscus, tulsi, elderberry”; and “ginger, lemon, turmeric.” They also offer a multi-pack and gift boxes.


Unique Customer Engagement:

IdiosyncraTEAS
IdiosyncraTEAS is a trendsetting online tea store, offering first-rate products and exceptional customer service to shoppers from the comfort of their own homes and businesses. IdiosyncraTEAS is a business made up of innovators and forward-thinkers, all with the drive and wherewithal to constantly update and improve while adapting to the world today. Their online store has become synonymous with quality, and they ensure a continuous variety of the finest teas from around the world to fit any budget. Their tea offerings include: Black, Green, Herbal, White, Oolong, Purple, Pu’erh, Roobios, Matcha and Detox teas. They aim to process all orders within 24 hours of receipt, and they also offer wholesale opportunities and have capabilities for filling larger orders. In addition, IdiosyncraTeas is now offering virtual, private cooking classes that are tailored to the customer.


Akóva Tea
Akóva Tea offers a thoughtfully curated selection of teas and flavors so that customers can make their own custom blends. Alternatively, customers can choose a tea based on their personalized tasting profile, or choose from a selection of delicious, prepackaged teas that will be sure to inspire the senses. For Akova Tea's Personalized Tasting Profile, customers can participate in a three-month long tasting adventure. Each month, participants will receive a package tailored to finding out their tea preference. At the end of the first month, the customer provides feedback on the teas, and then the next package will be refined based on the comments. By the third month, a final set of teas will be sent, based on the feedback from the previous shipments.


Drink Me! Tearoom
A modern twist on afternoon tea and a charming new take on an old-world tradition, Drink Me! Tearoom offers enchanting tea experiences. Their whimsical and wonderful tearoom is a place to slow down and enjoy conversation and company while sampling a delightful selection of savory sandwiches, scrumptious scones and splendid sweets – all served with a choice of organic fragrant tea. All of their food items are plant-based and gluten free. Customer’s can also visit their online store to purchase premium loose-leaf teas, which are available to ship or for local pick-up. All of their teas are organic, loose-leaf tea in a variety of flavor profiles. And most of the teas have a whimsical name based on Alice in Wonderland, such as “Mad Hatter,” “Queen of Hearts,” “White Rabbit” and “Cheshire Cat.” Customers can also choose their own tea party by selecting four teas to sample. Each order is carefully hand-packaged to ensure that customers receive the freshest and most fragrant teas available.

The winner in each category of Tea Tycoons will be announced during the World Tea Virtual Summit, taking place March 15-16, 2021.

Tea Tycoon judges include:

- Angelica Palladino, General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel, Seattle, Wash.

- Babette Donaldson, Founder, International Tea Sippers Society and Owner/Publisher of T Ching

- Eve Hill Angus, Restaurant Critic and Writer

- James Tidwell, Founder, TEXSOM

For complimentary registration to the World Tea Virtual Summit, or to learn more, visit WorldTeaExpo.com/VirtualSummit.