We recently posted a piece from a contributor claiming there was “a lack of technical innovations in the tea industry”, which raised the question of whether the tea industry was just following in the footsteps of the coffee industry. This led to quite the debate from both sides of the argument and some strong points were raised.
Recently we came across a new company set on disproving this theory. Tea Drops is a start-up from California that has recently launched organic shaped teas that dissolve in a cup. Created in order to fulfil the demand for a convenient, high-quality cup of tea, Tea Drops are compressed shapes of loose-leaf tea blended with spices and flavours that dissolve in hot water. We spoke with CEO Sashee Chandran about their creation.
Tell us about Tea Drops. When did it start and what inspired its creation?
Tea Drops are organic shaped teas that dissolve in your cup – no teabag or steeping required! Made with organic tea, spices, and lightly sweetened with organic sugar, Tea Drops are whimsical, fun shaped teas that steep instantly.
Tea has always been a huge part of my upbringing since both of my parents are originally from major tea drinking countries (China and Sri Lanka), however it was not until I joined an office setting after college that I realised how difficult it was to make loose-leaf tea at work. First you need a tea kettle, a strainer, and wait for the tea to steep… or you have a messy teabag to contend with. There was no simple way to enjoy a high-quality cup of tea. My own personal frustration with tea preparation was the real inspiration for creating Tea Drops; I wanted to enjoy loose-leaf tea without the fuss.
Is Tea Drops bringing something new to the tea sector?
Absolutely! If you look at the tea category, there has not been much innovation for hundreds of years (since the teabag). We want to deliver high-quality loose-leaf tea with hassle-free preparation. Tea Drops delivers an organic loose leaf tea experience that makes it easy to enjoy tea anytime, anywhere, with just hot water (at home, on-the-go, or in the office).
How do you make the tea drops and where do you source the leaves from?
All tea leaves used to create Tea Drops are USDA organic and sourced from China, India, and Sri Lanka depending on the tea variety. We take loose-leaf tea and finely blend it with exotic spices and sugar. All Tea Drops are made in California and are USDA organic. We compress the teas into fun, whimsical shapes that create a unique and unforgettable tea experience.
Does the shape of the drop affect the tea’s flavour?
Each shape of Tea Drop indicates its unique tea selection – heart shapes are sweet peppermint, flower shapes are rose Earl Grey, and so on. Each Tea Drop is thoughtfully made into a specific shape to bring out its unique spice and flavour. For instance, our sweet peppermint hearts are smaller in volume compared to other Tea Drop shapes but have been crafted with a precise spearmint proportion to make the perfect 8oz cup of tea.
Who is your target market? Have you had a lot of interest since your launch?
Our target market is the person who wants to enjoy a unique loose-leaf tea experience conveniently. That market tends to be working professionals, travellers, or moms who are on the go. There has been an incredible response since our launch. Even though I created Tea Drops to personally address my own frustration with preparing loose leaf tea at work, I have realised what a universal experience complicated tea preparation can be. Customers tell me frequently how drinking Tea Drops is a ritual they look forward to during their day, and I can’t think of a better compliment to our brand.
Tell us about your involvement with AccelFoods. How has it helped your company?
We are incredibly excited about the AccelFoods partnership and joining its portfolio of other disruptive brands. AccelFoods has a powerful and knowledgeable network of advisors and strategic partners to help brands think through all aspects of their business – notably operations, legal, finance and sales. As an entrepreneur, you often have many blind spots – some that you are not even aware of. To have such key relationships, support, and commitment from the AccelFoods family as you scale is incredibly comforting.
What are your plans for 2016?
This year, we will continue in our mission to spread the love of tea to as many people as possible by making Tea Drops more accessible to our customers whether they shop locally or online. We are looking forward to launching our teas in new retail packaging in grocery stores across the country. You can also expect to see Tea Drops in more foodservice establishments in the near future!
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020