Locating the Richest Tea Retailers – Need to Know

Location data is critical to retail success and essential to expansion planning. Market research firm AggData offers a revealing tool that TIME Labs used to rank the richest retail locations in the U.S.

You can experiment with it free online.

The interactive form compiles the U.S. median income of brands based on updated 2013 Census data. TIME ranked 2,996 chains by comparing the median income of the counties where stores are located. TIME used this information to rank the richest  department stores, grocery stores, and restaurants by location. You can use it to perform some useful local reconnaissance on tea, coffee and cafe chains.

TEABIZ150831_ART_StoreComparisonI started with 390-store Teavana and DAVIDsTEA. The table only ranks U.S. locations which include 311 Teavana stores and 24 DAVIDsTEA locations along with 30 Argo Tea locations. In 2013 the median household (inflation adjusted) income for the entire country was $51,939 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

DAVIDsTEA has located its shops in very high income counties (Chicago, Boston, New York, San Francisco) with a mean income of $73,226. These stores are located in counties ranking in the top 30% of U.S. incomes. Teavana is more broadly dispersed with mall stores in 46 states. Teavana Tea Bars are located in places like Manhattan and Beverly Hills. The median county income for Teavana locations is $62,304. Teavana locations are situated within counties with households in the top 41% of U.S. incomes. Argo follows with stores in five states and a median county income of $56,263. These locations rank within the top 44% of U.S. household incomes.

By comparison Starbucks has 12,231 locations in all 50 states (and two territories) with a median $52,739. The company also operates 27 Seattle’s Best Cafes in 16 states where the county median is $56,261. This number does not include the many thousands of non-branded locations where Seattle’s Best is sold.

TEABIZ150831_ART_SearchToolTo investigate competitors within your own market click this image and scroll to the bottom of the TIME page. Then use the search box to compare chains including Dunn Bros. Coffee, Coffee Beanery, Dutch Bros. Coffee, Tim Hortons, Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Tully’s Coffee, Panera Bread, Au Bon Pain etc. Peet’s Coffee & Tea was not listed.

TEABIZ150831_ART_StoreComparison2

Methodology

Household median income, from the 2013 American Community Survey, is averaged across all counties for every retail location available from AggData to find the “median shopper income.” Estimates for shopper’s income would likely show greater disparity if calculated by geographies smaller than counties, which include a broader spectrum of household incomes. Only brands with stores in 20 or more U.S. states are considered national chains and used in the lists above. Though all brands are available in the search feature regardless of the number of states they operate in.

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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs good decision-making in business. Tea Biz reports what matters along the entire supply chain, emphasizing trustworthy sources and sound market research while discarding fluff and ignoring puffery.


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Australia’s First Specialty Tea Trade Show and Conference – Need to Know

Australia’s First Specialty Tea Trade Show and Conference – Need to Know

Cunningham Pier, Geelong, Victoria

Cunningham Pier, Geelong, Victoria

The Australian International Tea Expo October 17-18 is Australia’s first specialty tea trade show and conference.

The resort town of Geelong, Victoria, about 45 miles from Melbourne, is the location of the inaugural trade show and conference which includes a tea education program and a black-tie Golden Leaf Awards dinner.

TEABIZ150824_AustralianTeaExpo_FINALTea classes will be held throughout the show from 10 am to 5 pm each day at the Geelong Boat House, according to Sharyn Johnston, founder of the Australian Tea Masters Association, which is organizing the event.

The event is destined to become the “epicenter for tea specialists and tea products in Australia,” according to Johnston. “Industry professionals and tea enthusiasts will connect face-to-face to unveil new products, optimize high quality merchandise, gain in-depth product knowledge, and network with their tea loving peers,” she said.

The Golden Leaf Awards is a new competition, judged by professional tea cuppers, to distinguish the highest-quality and best-tasting teas commercially available in the Australian marketplace. Several categories within each class of tea will be judged during October prior to the expo, and the winners will be notified the day before the event. Winning companies receive a formal announcement letter that includes the tea’s scores, as well as a print-ready seal that can be used for all promotional materials and packaging. For more information, click here.

The awards will be presented during a formal black tea dinner at the Novotel Geelong on Oct. 17. The dinner will feature a delicious menu with each course paired with the perfect tea. The banquet includes cultural entertainment. To reserve a seat click click here.

Johnston said the event will help Australians discover and experience specialty tea while celebrating the cultural diversity of teas from around the world.

Events include:

  • A “Frozen” themed tea party for kids (at the 100 year-old carousel on the bay)
  • High teas on the bay
  • Plus many forms of entertainment including traditional Japanese tea ceremony, Korean Tea ceremony on the main stage, in the middle of the Expo hall.
  • Help support the fight against ovarian cancer by attending our Frocktober morning tea. Find out more here.

To register to exhibit, click here.

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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs good decision-making in business. Tea Biz reports what matters along the entire supply chain, emphasizing trustworthy sources and sound market research while discarding fluff and ignoring puffery.


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China’s One Belt, One Road – Need to Know

China is making its biggest splash in tea in modern times this summer at Expo Milano 2015 the world’s largest food and beverage tradeshow.

LOGO-ChinesePavilionMilano2015“Never before has Italy hosted so many tea experts from China all together with so many companies representing the excellence of Chinese tea,” writes Marco Bertona, chairman of the Tea Association of Italy. The China Pavilion in Milan is shaped like fields of wheat rippling in the wind to reflect the theme, “Land of Hope, Food for Life.” It has been visited by almost 250,000 tourists since it opened in May.

Chinese Tea Culture Week” which ended Sunday brought to light a political mandate to make China the world’s greatest tea exporter.

In 2013 Xi Jinping, China’s new president, proposed The Belt and Road Initiative, a modernization of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The goal is reviving ancient trade routes between Asia and Europe. The proposed trade and infrastructure network passes through more than 60 countries and regions, with a population of 4.4 billion. Nations along the route produce more than 80% of the world’s supply of tea.

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China Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Unlike past initiatives which emphasized quantity over quality, this time China is determined to dominate the global market for premium tea.

In 2014 more than 80% of China’s tea exports were low grade green tea destined for Africa, Europe and Russia. Right now there is a surplus of commodity tea and a scarcity of premium tea making this a good time to export fine tea. During the past decade the green tea that China exported sold for between $1 and $2 per kilo. In December 2014 the world average price for tea sold at auction was $2.56/kg down from $2.72/kg the previous year. The average dropped an additional 30-cents to $2.42/kg by the end March 2015, according to statistics compiled by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

China Daily reports that the average price of Chinese tea increased to $4 per kilo during the past few years. Last year Chinese tea exports $4.19 per kilo. This is a big improvement but is still not enough to be profitable, according to Chinese traders.

TEABIZ_ChinaTea_OneRoadOneBeltChina’s tea market was valued at $56 billion (RMB 350 billion) in 2014. Exports comprise only $1.27 billion of market value, but were up 2.1% compared to 2013. Export volume declined 7.5% during that same period, an indication that China is shipping greater quantities of higher-value tea.

Sri Lanka, the world’s second largest tea exporter, gets the highest average price for commodity teas auctioned anywhere in the world. But the Colombo Tea Auction average is still less than $5 per kilo. Asia Syaka, a global commodities brokerage notes “Sri Lankan orthodox black tea continues to command premium pricing in the international market with prices averaging $4.97 per kilo.”

Specialty teas, in contrast, sell for $150 a kilo with some bringing $350 to $400 per kilo.

Untapped Capacity

In 2013 China was the world’s second-biggest tea exporter at 322,600 metric tons behind Kenya’s 494,400 tons. That year Sri Lanka exported 319,600 metric tons. In 2014 Sri Lanka stepped up exports, setting a record at 327,800 metric tons and China fell to third.

China is without doubt capable of meeting global demand for premium tea. It is the only large tea producing country capable of mass producing all six kinds of tea. China already produces 40% of the world’s tea and is developing thousands of additional acres per year. Tea is grown there on 6.7 million acres (2.7 million hectares) and it is exported to 120 countries. China’s tea is marketed by more than 200,000 companies representing the work of 30 million growers.

China retains its customary lead in the production of green tea, exporting 79% of the global total and accounting for 80% of value. In most instances exported Chinese tea is blended with herbs and fruits. In the US sales of green iced tea have increased significantly as national restaurant chains promote green tea’s health benefits. At least 10% of the nation’s restaurants now serve green tea alongside traditional black.

Despite its massive production capability “China is not strong enough in exports of tea leaves, tea extracts and deep-processing elements which are fundamentals of the tea industry,” according to Wu Zhibin, vice chairman of the Chinese Tea Culture International Exchange Association told Taiwan-based Want China Times. Deep-processing is the Chinese term for what in the west is known as value-added tea.

“The domestic market values low-production, handmade teas but the global tea market prefers mass-produced teas that are standardized in quality and taste,” according to Wu Jing, editor-in-chief of tea portal chayu.com. He told China Daily that “export teas are grown specifically for that purpose and not consumed domestically.”

Tea Culture Week at the Chinese Pavilion is an opportunity “to support top brands of Chinese tea industry in their path towards growth and worldwide development,” said Zhibin. He praised the top Chinese exports brands which were recognized at as special award ceremony in Milan.

“With rising production costs in China and competition that is likely to intensify, Chinese tea producers have to find new strategies to boost Chinese brands and their sales on the global stage,” says Ji Xiaoming, president of Jingwei Fu Tea Co and chairman of the Shaanxi Tea Association.

“Only if the Chinese tea industry is strong, the Chinese tea culture can be innovative and can be promoted all around the world,” Wu told Xinhua News Service.

Unprecedented opportunity

China Daily reports that “One Belt, One Road” is a rare opportunity to turn Chinese tea consumption into a global phenomenon.

“That is the dream of the country’s tea companies – which are still largely unknown to the world. They are ready to grab a piece of the action in an anticipated market boom,” according to the newspaper.

“The Belt and Road Initiative is not just a rejuvenation of the ancient silk road, but also a comeback of the ancient tea road,” said Jiao Jialiang, chairman of LongRun Group, a Chinese conglomerate specializing in food and health products.

Jiao, who is also a member of the 12th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, told the newspaper that “China’s tea industry will embrace an unprecedented window of opportunity as the Initiative presses ahead.”

Growers and producers spent generations refining the Chinese way of manufacturing tea with its many unique regional variations,” according to the newspaper: “Tea is not simply beverage, but a unique opportunity to share China’s culture.”

“It’s believed the practice of tea culture can take the spirit and wisdom of humans to a higher level, and its study covers a wide field with rich content,” the paper reported.

Tea culture will lead the way boosting the Belt and Road Initiative, said Jiao, “as tea culture spreads around the world, the whole industry will take off,” he said.

Although export figures may continue to trough in the short term, says Wang Jianrong, director of the China National Tea Museum: “The future of Chinese tea exports will be bright if we continue to penetrate overseas markets with tea culture, something that is not reflected in trade figures.”

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An informal assessment of China’s export market for tea.

STRENGTHS

China has the land, tea varieties, tea quality, government incentives and motivation to excel in tea exports. The growth of tea retail outlets (T2, Teavana, DavidsTea, TenRen) is a very promising development. 1400 years ago China was the top tea exporter and even after India replaced it as a quantity supplier China always offered more varieties and higher quality orthodox, remaining dominate for centuries. India is the only producing country with similar capacity and it cannot effectively compete. Kenya will remain the dominate commodity supplier of black tea, but remains an insignificant supplier of green. Anything the Chinese can do with green they can industrialized and scale for black, but doing so is not profitable with Sri Lanka, India and Kenya in the picture. China is expert at orthodox green and while it will step up its black tea production for Asian consumption, European and US export, it will make its greatest gains in premium green/white, pu-erh and oolongs. China’s RTD tea market is valued at about $29 billion. China’s Ting Hsin International Group not only dominates China’s RTD market but the international RTD market as well with a 10% global market share, according to a financial report by LD Investments, published by Seeking Alpha. Look for breakouts in RTD and value-added tea products from concentrates and extracts to supplements and cosmetics. These are more likely to be developed in collaboration with Japan (ITO EN) and Taiwan (TenRen, Tingyi and Master Kong) using inexpensive Chinese tea from the mainland. Right now China is primarily developing extracts and “deep-processed” tea for its own domestic market.

WEAKNESS

Globally the demand for black tea is much greater than green. Right now there is a glut of commodity black teas and a shortage of “quality” CTC that is clean, certified and reasonably priced. China loses money producing cheap green and loses volume if they focus only on premium. Conversion to a dominate black tea supplier offers little financial incentives. Ultimately demand for fine green teas will grow due to its health benefits and the adoption of green by foodservice (in US Wendy’s green iced tea at 6,000 stores). Tea exports represents such a tiny fraction of foreign trade that the Chinese government stands to gain very little (other than prestige) from the increase in tea exports. Tea exports earned $1.27 billion which represents about .056% of China’s $2.25 trillion exports. Electronics and other agricultural products generate a lot more money than tea. Unlike the more profitable exports which receive significant government support, much of the investment on outbound marketing will be made by the 200,000 existing tea companies, none of whom are well known brands. Even the largest holds minuscule market share compared to multi nationals like Unilever, Tata Global Beverages or Nestle.

OPPORTUNITY

Chinese tea culture is fascinating, varied and universally appreciated. China exports tea to 120 countries. The country will more fully develop its impressivle portfolio of prized teas (premium green, oolongs and pu-erh) and that will generate significant income for regional producers willing to undertake mass production. Ultimately these firms will spend the money it takes to promote their offerings in Europe and North America. China’s domestic market currently values low-production, hand-made teas. The global tea market prefers mass-produced teas that are standardized in quality and taste. In time China will show the benefit of its hand-made teas by making them more available in the global market while at the same time collaborate with Western ventures such as Starbucks/Teavana and Unilever/T2 to produce more commercially successful mass-market teas.  In sharing its finest teas China gradually transitions from a commodity producer earning $4 per kilo to a quality producer capable of marketing teas at 10-times that rate and with the capacity to supply the entire world’s demand for premium teas.

THREAT

A slowing economy makes it more difficult for Chinese firms to invest the marketing dollars it takes to win share in export markets, but its own domestic demand for cleaner tea will help offset these costs. Learning to market value-added tea domestically is a precursor to global expansion and tolerance for the millions it takes to promote a Lipton or Tetley brand (ie. its latest global ad campaign cost Lipton $40 million, no Chinese company has ever invested that kind of money to promote a tea brand). Another threat is global instability that impacts trade (China territorial expansion, tension with Japan, aggressive behavior by surrogate North Korea) are factors. However, the single greatest threat in my view (and a primary motivation for exports) is the fact that young people in China consider traditional tea “old fashioned” and are not practicing the tea traditions of their parents. Consumer surveys reveal that nearly 70 percent of those born in the 80’s do not like to drink tea. This rises to 95% for those born in the 90’s. Tea is not cool, shops are largely antiquated and there is no marketing beyond basic grocery display. Relatively little good tea is purchased in grocery. Ultimately tea must appeal to a new generation of consumers. As one critic noted: “if all the tea stores look like archaeology dig sites and antique stores, then it won’t attract a lot of customers.” Revenue from a lively domestic market is essential to expansion of exports.

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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs good decision-making in business. Tea Biz reports what matters along the entire supply chain, emphasizing trustworthy sources and sound market research while discarding fluff and ignoring puffery.


Tea Biz posts are available to use in your company newsletter or website. Purchase reprint and distribution rights for single articles or commission original content.  Click here for details.

It’s Tea Festival Season – Need to Know

It’s Tea Festival Season – Need to Know

Festival season is underway with great events scheduled in Sydney, Dublin and Vancouver…

Western Tea Festivals launched in the past couple of years are drawing crowds of 5,000 to 7,000. Events in major cities across the globe introduce consumers to tea customs and styles. Educational programs are popular with experts sharing methods of preparation while discussing processing techniques and origin.

Retailers typically organize these events in cooperation with local governments and tea marketing associations. Financial support from tea wholesalers, brewing and service ware manufacturers make it possible to keep admission prices low.

Here is a quick recap of shows in the weeks ahead:

Sydney Tea Festival – Aug. 16, 2015

LOGO-SydneyTeaFestivalThis event, co-founded by retailers Renee Creer and Corinne Smith, follows the 2014 debut.  Organizers expect 7,000 to attend a tea market with 50 stalls, tea education program and to take home $4 souvenir tea tasting cups (for samples).

New workshop sessions include tea and dessert pairing with Black Star Pastry and how to create your own chai with the Sticky Chai boys. There’s also the brew lounge where you can kick back and listen to music while sipping a cuppa.

The Australian tea drinkers’ palate is improving as they are trading up basic black tea for more premium and loose leaf teas, notes Corinne Smith, co-founder and owner of The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar. Creer, who owns Perfect South Green Tea, said the festival “celebrates what specialty tea in Australia is all about – quality, diversity and creativity. Whether you’re a long term tea fanatic or just starting to dabble with tea, we’ve covered all the bases for you.”

Australians spent $384 million on 7.7 billion cups of tea last year. “Tea is trending in Australia at the moment and the success of last year’s festival is a testament to that,” said Smith.

Sydney Tea Festival
Festival: Carriageworks
245 Wilson St., Eveleigh
Workshops: Yamma Dhiyaan Training Center
255 Wilson St., Eveleigh

Hours: Sunday 9 am – 4 pm

Learn more: www.sydneyteafestival.com.au and for those too distant to make the trip follow the festivities at www.facebook/sydteafestival (Facebook) www.instagram.com/sydteafestival (Instagram) www.twitter.com/sydteafestival (Twitter), and www.youtube.com/sydteafestival (YouTube)

Sydney Tea Festival

Sydney Tea Festival 2014

Dublin Coffee & Tea Festival – Sept. 11-13, 2015

LOGO-Dublin Coffee & Tea FestivalIrish Foodservice Suppliers Alliance (IFSA) and the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE- Irish branch) are again hosting the three-day Dublin Coffee & Tea Festival.

The event in the RDS Industries Hall attracts the industry’s leading Irish tea brands, such as Mrs. Doyles Tea Company, Niks Tea and Solaris along with stands from Lily’s Tea Shop, Bewley’s Coffee and Tea Company and Koyu Matcha Green Tea.  The inaugural event drew 5,700 visitors with 93% indicating they would return in 2015.

Dublin is the site of the World Barista Championships in 2016, an event that will bring competitors from 65 countries. With the Irish palate now as sophisticated as our European counterparts, and a vibrant café culture growing all the time, this year’s show features a great mix of exhibitors, education, entertainment and competitions.

Dublin Coffee & Tea Festival - 2014

Dublin Coffee & Tea Festival 2014

These include the SCAE Brew School where visitors will be shown how to use different brewing methods; the National Home Barista Championships; and The Food Village for Artisan food and beverage suppliers whose products compliments the coffee and tea drinking experience. And, following on once again from the success of last year’s show, there will be a series of fringe events with all features open to commercial sponsorship opportunities.


Dublin Coffee & Tea Festival

Industries Hall of the RDS Dublin 4

Hours: Friday, Noon – 7 pm
Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm | Sunday 10 am – 5 pm
Admission: €10.40 (children free)
Three-day pass: €15.40

Learn more: www.dublincoffeefestival.com and for those too distant to make the trip follow the festivities at https://www.facebook.com/dublincoffeeandteafestival  (Facebook) https://twitter.com/DublinCoffeeTea  (Twitter)

Vancouver Tea Festival – Nov. 21, 2015

LOGO-VancouverTeaFestivalThe Vancouver Tea Society (VTS) is a non-profit that previously hosted a 2013 festival on Vancouver Island.  This year the event moves to the Croatian Cultural Centre, East Vancouver.

The 2013 event drew 3,500 attendees.

“Vancouver has assuredly become a city of ‘foodies’ – a city with discerning, diverse, and increasingly sophisticated tastes in food and drink. Until relatively recently, however, tea was something of an afterthought on the Vancouver scene – overshadowed, among other things, by the city’s reputation as a haven for coffee lovers. But no longer,” write organizers. “We at the Vancouver Tea Society believe the time has come to showcase specialty tea in all its splendour to Vancouver, and to British Columbia as a whole.”

VTS hosts bi-monthly tea events including focused tastings and educational sessions. Net proceeds are donated to local charities. “We resolutely believe tea can be a force for tremendous good, and giving back to the city in which we live and work elides perfectly with the social, communitarian ethos that imbues tea culture,” according to VTS, which is managed by a board of five directors active within the local tea industry.

Exhibitors include Thay Tea, Tea Sparrow, O5 Tea, Young Mountain Tea, My Matcha Life, Amoda Tea, Trudy Ann’s Chai, ICHIYO’s Matcha Tea Bar and JusTea. Tables are $450. Email del@vancouverteafestival.ca for LOGO-VancouverTeaSocietydetails.

Vancouver Tea Festival
3250 Commercial Dr., East Vancouver
Hours: Saturday 10 am – 6 pm

Learn more at: http://www.vancouverteafestival.ca and for those too distant to make the trip follow the festivities at https://twitter.com/VanTeaFestival (Twitter) https://instagram.com/vanteasociety/ (Instagram) and https://www.facebook.com/VanTeaSociety (Facebook)

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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs good decision-making in business. Tea Biz reports what matters along the entire supply chain, emphasizing trustworthy sources and sound market research while discarding fluff and ignoring puffery.


Tea Biz posts are available to use in your company newsletter or website. Purchase reprint and distribution rights for single articles or commission original content.  Click here for details.

US Tea Growers Competition – Need to Know

Competition announced for US grown tea… American Tea Room hires Tony Gebely to run its online operations…

National Competition for US Tea Growers

Tea farmers in the United States are eligible to enter the first competition designed to showcase US grown teas. A cash price of $1000 will go the top grower in each of four tea categories, juried by an international panel of judges.

Eva Lee, a Hawaii tea farmer and TOTUS awards director, with the Volcano Art Center hosting judging Nov. 4 in Hawaii, thanks to a grant from the Hawaii County Office of Research & Development, cash awards provided by the Hawaii Tea Society, and several contributing agricultural organizations involved in developing the cultivation of tea. The competition will be followed by an exhibition and presentation Nov. 7 at the Volcano Art Center in Hawaii.4.VAC Color Logo where people,art,nature meet LARGE

“I recently returned from Washington DC after talking with representatives on Capitol Hill on the significant development of US grown tea in agriculture and its unique place in family farming,” said Lee, a former head of the Hawaii Tea Society. “The more informed our representatives are on domestic tea production the better assistance they can provide at the county, state and federal level. The TOTUS Awards will raise public awareness and create opportunities for many in tea production nationwide,” she said.

The deadline to enter opens Aug. 1, 2015. Entry forms with payment are due Oct. 16. The last day tea entries will be accepted at the Volcano Art Center is Oct. 26. Teas must be 100% grown in the US with no foreign tea blends, scents or herbals added. Categories include white tea, green tea, oolong tea and black tea. The competition is open to both commercial and non-commercial growers. Commercial growers pay $100 per entry. Non-commercial growers pay $40 per entry. Non-commercial growers are those that produce and sell less than 5 pounds of Camellia sinensis per year. Hobbyists and researchers are also invited to submit 36-gram entries. There is a maximum of three entries per tea type.

LOGO-Hawaii Tea Society“Now that spring harvests have ended and with summer and autumn yields ahead, competitors should take this time to review, experiment and refine tea entries to demonstrate excellence of your skills,” said Lee.

Sponsorships, beginning at $100, are welcome to help underwrite competition expenses, she added.

To learn more visit: www.TOTUS1awards.com

Tony Gebely Joins American Tea Room

Award-winning tea blogger Tony Gebely was named American Tea Room’s director of technology and distribution channels. He starts Aug. 1.  Gebely, a two-time World Tea Award winner for his blog World of Tea (www.WorldofTea.org), has 10 years of experience in digital marketing strategy and business intelligence. He has worked 12 years in the specialty beverage industry and is the founder of Chicago Tea Garden.  He will be responsible for all of American Tea Room’s online presence, including management of the website and social media channels, as well as tea education and hospitality outreach.

Tony Gebely

Tony Gebely

American Tea Room will soon open its second location, a 5,600 sq. ft. space in Los Angeles’ Arts District. The shop features a new open tasting arena and oasis garden tea lounge.

The shop, at 909 S. Santa Fe Avenue, will also house corporate offices for the online business which has grown more than 30% year-over-year since launching in 2006. Once the new spot opens, the company plans to remodel its Beverly Hills location into a contemporary, open concept that will accommodate more customers with indoor and outdoor seating, a more comprehensive food menu, and an expanded retail space. This renovation is expected to be completed by late winter 2016. CEO David Barenholtz plans a third location at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Construction will begin at that location next week he said.

Learn more at: www.AmericanTeaRoom.com

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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs good decision-making in business. Tea Biz reports what matters along the entire supply chain, emphasizing trustworthy sources and sound market research while discarding fluff and ignoring puffery.


Tea Biz posts are available to use in your company newsletter or website. Purchase reprint and distribution rights for single articles or commission original content.  Click here for details.

Student Designed Infuser Tops $360,000 on Kickstarter – Need to Know

By Nanette Jackson

TEABIZ-AudioIcon2_transparent Click here to listen to the inventors tell their story (15 min).

Three college students in Bellingham, Wash., set out to design an innovative magnetic brewing vessel to flip your world upside-down and throw tea bags into the past.

Now they are raising money to launch this project – lots of money.

TEABIZ_NTK_150615_Imbue-FlipA 30-day Kickstarter campaign that ended last week received $362,679 from 6,248 backers. The team’s initial $20,000 goal was met May 4, the day it launched.

The infuser design was a fund-raising project at Western Washington University created to support the Industrial Design Program.

The Imbue vessel has a magnetized loose-leaf tea holder on the inside of the lid. When you flip the container upside-down, it brews the tea. Once steeped to that perfect shade, you can flip it right side up and remove the magnetic holder to enjoy your drink.

All of the vessels were manufactured on campus utilizing student labor. The inventors used a cylindrical cutting tool to robotically cut out all the lids and then did finish sanding and assembly.

Juniors in the Industrial Design Program Dan Taylor, Leah Cohen-Sapida, and Ashkon Nina are responsible for this new invention.

In December, once they finished developing a prototype, they made 150 vessels and introduced their product to the public.

“Then they sold out, and you couldn’t buy them anymore. We got so much good feedback, and people who wanted more. So we decided we were going to take it further,” Nina said.

TEABIZ_NTK_Imbue Infuser_schematic_closeupThe students then decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign, recording video and publishing schematics. The Kickstarter was meant to bring this product into full production. They’re now working with an overseas manufacturer to produce the infuser in larger quantities and to reach a broader audience, according to Taylor.

The campaign raised 18 times their goal. Donors purchased as many as 10 at a time and it remains unknown exactly how many units have been sold because there were so many different donor packages and so many backers.

The Industrial Design Student Association (IDSA) raises money for the students in the Industrial Design program at WWU. The students plan on giving back a lot of their profits to the association once it is determined how much will be needed for full-scale production costs. They are also working on final modifications and new models.

TEABIZ_NTK_150615_Imbue-MagnetThe team collaborated with a handful of students from the onset, inventing a sustainably produced, practical invention. They said they wanted “something that stood out”

“We looked at a bunch of other tea solutions out there and none of them allowed you to easily get the tea out once it’s done brewing. So you brew it and it just keeps brewing while you’re drinking. That’s the unique thing about this product [is that you can easily remove the tea],” Taylor said.

According to Cohen-Sapida, they researched studies on how long you’re supposed to actually brew tea and they found that it was supposed to be around three minutes. But they recognized there are different steep times for various styles of tea. Everyone likes their tea differently, she said.

“This gives you the opportunity to stop, if you don’t want to keep brewing, you don’t have to,” Cohen-Sapida said.

Currently, the vessels sell for $30 on their website, http://imbuetea.com, and are may be pre-ordered online. According to the Imbue Tea website, shipments should begin around October 2015.

Nanette Jackson is a student at Western Washington University.

TEABIZ_NTK_Imbue Infuser_howitworks

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Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs good decision-making in business. Tea Biz reports what matters along the entire supply chain, emphasizing trustworthy sources and sound market research while discarding fluff and ignoring puffery.


Tea Biz posts are available to use in your company newsletter or website. Purchase reprint and distribution rights for single articles or commission original content.  Click here for details.

A Good Omen for Specialty Tea – Need to Know

DavidsTea_LOGOA Good Omen for Specialty Tea

Strip away all the legal filings and investment analysis and what you see in the DAVIDsTEA Initial Public Offering (IPO) today is a positive and persuasive vision of the future of specialty tea retail.

DAVIDsTEA is the latest example of a home-grown venture where the founders, inspired by a love of specialty tea, grew their small shops into a bankable business. Like T2 in Australia, Teaopia in Canada and Teavana in Atlanta, Ga., DAVIDsTEA demonstrated an enviable trajectory from the onset by concentrating on developing innovative herbal blends, loose leaf in packets and selling premium tea online.

In its regulatory filings the company points to 22 consecutive quarters of same store sales growth while constructing 30 new stores a year. DAVIDsTEA is seeking at least $77 million to pay down debt and construct a total of 530 stores. The company reported a $6 million profit on $142 million in sales last year with an annual growth rate of 36%.

Excitement is building for the offering which has been chosen “pick of the week” by several analysts including lead underwriters Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. DAVIDsTEA upped the initial offering price from $18 to $19 per share Thursday and will likely see a market value vote of confidence of up to $500 million by the end of the week.

Jurgen Link is a pioneer in specialty tea. In 1996 he founded SpecialTeas, Inc. a tea import, wholesale and e-commerce company. In 2005 SpecialTeas merged with leading tea retailer Teavana Corp. (then with 28 stores) to form Teavana Holdings. As president of SpecialTeas and senior vice president of logistics and distribution and Board Member of Teavana Corp., Link lead sourcing, logistics, store distribution and e-commerce fulfillment. He was a member of the executive team during the Teavana IPO and subsequent acquisition by Starbucks.

“In 1996 it was impossible to find special tea in this country,” he recalls. “I grew up in Germany and Germany, like the U.S., is a coffee drinking country but we could always find a tea room with good quality tea in every city of say, 25,000,” he said. That is still not possible in the U.S., said Link.

“That shows me how much more potential we have. What we have available now is merely scratching the surface,” said Link. “Howard Schultz [Starbucks CEO] is right, there is a ‘huge opportunity,’” he added. Retail is changing “but it has not changed enough,” he said. “There needs to be a whole lot more distribution and many, many more outlets, more points of sale and a lot more education,” said Link.

Does DAVIDsTEA hold the key?

“DAVIDsTEA is successfully building a chain of tea stores offering bulk teas, but the jury is still out on the right tea bar or tea room concept,” he explains. “The whole bar/tearoom channel is still in flux because no one has yet discovered a concept that is truly scalable — nobody, anywhere. That does not mean it is not possible,” he said.

“I am very interested to see what Starbucks will do because once the concept is discovered there will be another big surge in growth,” he said. “I think Starbucks has the resources to do it. He [Schultz] needs to invent something that has not been invented,” said Link.

Timing is good for a brisk opening day. DAVIDsTEA reported $35.4 million in sales for the quarter ending May 2, an increase of 28% due in part to an average ticket increase of 7.2%. Comparable store sales grew 6.3% in the quarter. Margins are improving. Rival Teavana, which is twice the size of DAVIDsTEA and benefits from sales at 11,000 Starbucks locations, reported 15% growth in tea sales during the same period.

Click here to see the company’s full financials.

DAVIDsTEA now operates 161 stores. Among those open at least one year, revenue averages $1 million per store. Given the small retail footprint (albeit expensive) and small staff (typically three to five) specialty tea demonstrates a significant return on investment.

Store Count Canada US  Total
2008 1 1
2011 68 2 70
2012 91 14 105
2013 108 16 124
2014 130 24 154
2015* 136 25
*As of May 2015

More important, in the world of beverage retail, scale plays a huge role in profitability. Get the menu right, secure good locations and you can expand, and expand, and expand.

DAVIDsTEA’s biggest opportunity is in the U.S. in cities along the northern border like Chicago as well as the coasts. It operates five stores in Illinois, five stores in New York and one in New Jersey; five in Massachusetts and one in Connecticut with six in California. Its greatest concentration is in the Canadian provinces of Ontario (44), Quebec (25) and British Columbia (25). The company intends to build 30 stores in Canada this year and 15 in the U.S. with a long-term goal of 40 to 50 annually to reach 530 in the next five years. Rival Teavana currently operates 330 stores with plans to build 1,000, according to Starbucks, which acquired the venture in 2012.

Tea retail will not experience the meteoric pace of coffee shop expansion in the 1990s, when Starbucks was opening an average of two stores per day, but growth has been steady, averaging two new chain stores a week in a highly fragmented market. Tea retailing tea is less lucrative than coffee in terms of scale but with better margins. Increasing the DAVIDsTEA price to $19 a share reflects the momentum building behind this offering but keep in mind that shares of Starbucks sell for around $50.

DAVIDsTEA sells 150 different type of tea, introducing 30 annually. Popularity is fleeting for most but innovation stimulates sales. The company earns 68% of its revenue from the sale of loose leaf teas and herbals, mainly packets priced around $8-$12 with 22% of total sales from teaware and utensils. Food and beverage sales account for 10% of revenue. Only 7.9% is from online transactions (2014) which have improved significantly from the 2.7% reported in 2010 but remain below the 10% norm for brick and mortar operations with online offerings. DAVIDsTea predicts this number will rise to 15% of sales with additional investment in the company’s website and online marketing.

In July 2011 Teavana generated $123 million from its initial listing on the NY Stock Exchange. It had 284 stores at the time and was averaging $862,000 in sales per location. The company operated 161 stores in 35 states on the day the IPO was funded and was experiencing nearly identical sales growth that reported by DAVIDsTEA for the quarter preceding the IPO, according to a Goldman Sachs analyst posted to Seeking Alpha.

Will success lead to acquisition? Teavana had better margins than Starbucks at the time it was purchased. DAVIDsTEA reports comparable store growth to that of Starbucks  at seven years of age, according to a cover story published in Specialty Coffee Retailer.

Starbucks has doubled tea sales since introducing Teavana as a replacement for Tazo in its coffee stores. The greatest sales gains are in shaken iced tea and tea lattes. Meanwhile sales of Tazo, now a CPG brand, top $1 billion.

In my view the company will use the IPO money to press its advantage in the U.S. while solidifying its hold in Canada making the Great White North a less desirable expansion target for Teavana (which is eying Asian expansion and growth in the Middle East).

Once the management at DAVIDsTEA demonstrates to the public that the firm has legs to run, expect an inquiry from Unilever which opened its first U.S. tea store in New York last year and its fourth T2 specialty tea shop in London. The Melbourne-based T2 operates 50 stores in Australia. DAVIDsTEA is a good fit for the ambitions of Unilever’s president for refreshment Kevin Havelock. Unilever, owner of Lipton and the world’s largest tea retailer, is a $75 billion company with a growing appetite for specialty tea.

Sylvain Toutant, who has been president and CEO of DAVIDsTEA since 2014 (leaving Keurig Green Mountain as COO of the Canada subsidiary last May), answers to a board of aggressive executives with a history of building companies to sell.

Expansion through franchise partners is another option. Several of Teavana’s overseas stores and those in Mexico are franchised.

Operating a business largely consisting of franchised stores is much different and less profitable than corporate-owned ventures. In a report published by Entrepreneur magazine Franchise Business Review found that “51.5% of food franchises earn profits of less than $50,000 a year; roughly 7% top $250,000, with the average profit for all restaurants coming in at $82,033.”

Tea’s high margins, an exclusive collection of teaware and utensils and services like monthly delivery subscriptions generate sales at a mall location equal to or even greater than franchise chocolatier Godiva – one of the most profitable franchises with 217 locations in the U.S. and 275 overseas.

Godiva generated $765 million at 10,000 locations in 2013 with U.S. retail stores averaging more than $1 million per year. “Each of these stores makes 37% more sales and posts 248% more profits,” since 2008, according to Godiva’s owners. Production capacity of the U.S. factories has increased 73% since the company was acquired for $850 million by Yildiz Holdings, as reported by the Hürriyet Daily News.

The IPO is hot proving bulk tea vendors are an exciting opportunity but if DAVIDsTEA wishes to remain independent and eventually dominate the segment it must also discover the elusive tea bar concept that will scale.

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