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How to Start a Tea Business

With interest increasing in specialty tea, it should come as no surprise that more people are interested in starting a tea business. The Tea Association of the USA estimates that the industry here increased from $1.84 billion in 1990 to $6.85 billion in 2007, with an estimated 2400 specialty tea rooms and retail shops now open.

Nowadays there’s no shortage of resources for the would-be entrepreneur. Search for assistance on how to start a food and/or beverage business and the number of resources is going to dwindle a bit but is still substantial. If you’ve narrowed your focus to running a tea business, advice geared specifically to your needs falls sharply and is often tied in with advice for would-be coffee sellers.

It’s well beyond the scope of a brief article to get a would-be tea business owner on their way, but there are some great resources geared toward this goal. Perhaps the best tidbit of advice for anyone embarking on this journey – whether it’s opening a tea house, tearoom or an Internet-based or brick and mortar tea shop – would be know the subject thoroughly.

If you’re looking for more targeted advice on starting a tea business, try How to Open a Financially Successful Coffee, Espresso & Tea Shop, by Elizabeth Godsmark, Lora Arduser, and Douglas R. Brown. This work is obviously not solely focused on tea business, but it’s an excellent look at the practical side of embarking on such a venture. For a similar approach, try Start Your Own Coffee & Tea Store, from Prentice Hall Press.

For the latest on what’s happening in the tea (and coffee industry) there are two trade magazines that are a great resource. Fresh Cup and the Tea And Coffee Trade Journal are targeted to readers in the tea and coffee industry. Print subscriptions are available and selected articles and resources are posted at the magazines’ Web sites.

For information about an “online tea business school,” look here. For an overview of tea business planning, look here. Aspiring tea biz entrepreneurs in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia may want to take note of the Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association.

Check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks, for more great articles!

4 responses to “How to Start a Tea Business”

  1. Thanks for listing Start A Tea Business in the online tea business section. I LOVE that class. After taking it I was shocked at how much information they share compared with others. It was like getting 3-5 years of info and experience rolled into one. It made a tremendous difference for me. I felt prepared and ready.

    Dawnya is a great teacher and the office staff is super helpful.

    The best part of learning from home with the videos, etc. Really saved me money. If anyone else wants to try it http://www.StartATeaBusiness.com
    I really recommend them.

    Teas and More

  2. Hello Helen,
    I’ve also found Twitter to have a wealth of key players in the tea industry and they’re all very friendly. With regards to boosting online sales, I’ve found networking to be very useful for me and my business in order to get my name out there. Is this an avenue you have explored before? I’ve written an article about this: http://maykingtea.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/the-power-of-networking/

    I’ve also found my tea-tastings which help to boost my business also helps. Perhaps, we could do something together where I give a tea-tasting to your customers based on your range of teas? Is this something you’re interested in? If so, please drop me an email: mayking@maykingtea.com and perhaps that is something we can do together.

    There’s also a whole host of other ideas that I have but it might be better for us to have a chat to see if any of them would be useful to you.

    May King Tsang (where, May King is my first name, rather confusingly :o)

  3. Thanks, I’ve been looking for a blog like this for ages. Like May, the comment author above, we’re also based in the UK and I think her advice about getting ‘LinkedIn’ is a brilliant one. It’s easy to find general advice on running a small business/marketing/PR but not so easy to find ideas about how to capture the imaginations of the growing numbers of tea-drinkers worldwide…and maybe LinkedIn is a good place to start?

    I wonder if either of you know of any other online communities specifically dedicated to the business of selling tea both in a shop and online?

    We’ve only been open a year and I’m absolutely passionate about tea in all it’s shapes and forms but, obviously that’s not enough on its own and we need to master the challenges everyone in our business faces (how do we get more weekday customers? how can we kick start our online sales? etc).

    Anyway, it’s good to know there are people out there with the same challenges so thanks again for the blog.


  4. Thank you for this blog entry. There’s certainly a wealth of information here which is extremely useful for those thinking of entering into the world of tea.

    I can certainly vouch for the ‘Fresh Cup’ publication. Even though I am based in the United Kingdom, I have found the magazine to be full of interesting articles for both coffee and tea enthusiasts.

    I have found the tea industry to be more open than other industries I have worked in and sharing the knowledge amongst tea enthusiasts is something that I certainly try to do in my working day.

    Check out LinkedIn too; there are many LinkedIn tea groups with people from all walks of life who start a discussion and there is a lot of useful advice to come out from those discussions too.

    Many thanks again for the article.

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