Monday, March 16, 2015

Interview: Jeff and Heidi Chen, Tea Ave

Photo Courtesy of Tea Ave

If you are a fan of oolong teas chances are you've seen Tea Ave mentioned on blogs, instagram, and steepster. They are a new  company getting noticed for the quality of their teas in beautifully designed packaging. After tasting a few samples I knew we needed to learn more about the company. Check out my interview with founders Jeff and Heidi Chen below. 

What inspired you to start Tea Ave?

Our love for oolong tea! Our goal is simple: We want to share our passion for really
good Taiwanese oolongs with the world. We feel pretty lucky that we get to work
hard at doing what we love, every day.

How long did it take you to select the right teas to offer?

Longer than you might guess. It took several years to get acquainted with Taiwan’s
tea industry, followed by a year of intense sourcing, tasting, and negotiation. We’re
not sure we’d say there’s such thing as the “right” teas—sourcing oolong is an ever changing
process, and we’re always looking for new great products—but we’re
incredibly proud of our offerings.

I see you source teas directly from the farmers. How did you choose the farmers you wanted to work with?
We knew we wanted to work with Taiwan’s best award-winning tea farms, so we did
a lot of research and compiled a humongous list of farmers to visit in person. We
traveled to these farms to meet the tea farmers, see their process, and taste their
teas. We picked the very best ones, making sure we’re working with farms whose
values and beliefs align with Tea Ave’s.

Why are you focusing on oolongs?

It’s our favorite! Oolong is probably the most complex of all teas, and we learn
something new about it on an almost-daily basis. It was important to us to do one
thing and do it really well, and that’s oolong—we want to be tea drinkers’ go-to
source for it.

What are your most favorite oolongs?

Wenshan Baochung (Heidi) and Lishan Oolong (Jeff). Happily, the difference
between these two teas illustrates the depth and breadth of Taiwanese oolongs.
Both have a lot in common (same cultivar; similar oxidation and roasting levels) but
taste completely different because of their different growing locations and altitude:
One is super-butter and floral; the other is green and grassy.

What are your core company values?

Amazing quality, a great user experience, and sustainability. We want to deliver the
best, freshest and purest Taiwanese oolongs out there, and we want our customers
to be wowed by their experience shopping with us online (and off). At a higher level,
we think a lot about how to achieve this in a sustainable way.

How did you choose the name Tea Ave?

Tea was a given, and we love how the word Ave(nue) captures the essence of
nature, journey, and adventure, something we think our company embodies.

The brand has a sleek, sophisticated look. How did you decide on the overall
look and feel for the company?

Thank you! In crafting our company’s signature style, we wanted something modern,
minimal and refreshing. So we took cues from geometric lines, shapes, and
typography and avoided heavy illustration. Each of our teas has its own unique icon
formed from these lines and shapes. For our signature colors, we stayed away from
expected earth tones and chose a fun, refreshing shade of turquoise.

When did you start drinking tea?

We’ve been drinking oolong tea our entire lives—but we didn’t realize how much we
craved it until we moved overseas ten years ago.

What are your personal tea rituals?

We enjoy gong fu tea sessions on Friday nights to maintain our personal zen, and
we do Western-style brewing every night while surfing the Internet, watching TV, or

What’s your favorite piece of teaware?

Good question. (Jeff) I would probably say our Chillaxer Cold Brew Bottle. It’s like
what they say about cameras: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” It’s
the same thing with teaware: Our Cold Brew Bottle is the item I use most often—I
love cold brewing teas, and my bottle’s with me each and every day. (Heidi) Classic
Mug With Infuser because it warms my hands while watching favourite TV shows
and reading at night time.
Thank you so much to Jeff and Heidi for answering the questions! If you are interested in trying their oolongs you can check out their website here. Also, stay tuned- tomorrow I'm going to post a fantastic giveaway full of Tea Ave goodies!

No comments:

Post a Comment