New Business Boot Camp Prepares Tea Entrepreneurs


New Business Boot Camp debuted at World Tea East this week after graduating hundreds of aspiring tea entrepreneurs in Las Vegas over the past five years.  

Attendees traveled from as far as Tel Aviv, Israel and Mexico City as well as Seattle, Wash., and Ft. Meyers, Fla. to learn how to profit from the rapidly growing opportunity of specialty and premium tea. Graduates receive a certificate, an opportunity to sign the graduate roll and most important, valuable advice from seasoned tea professionals including Tazo Vice President Charles Cain, TeaSource founder Bill Waddington, author and consultant Jane Pettigrew and expert Beth Johnston.

“I didn’t realize how unprepared I was to open a tea business until I got here,” said Lana Cichon, future owner of Farm Girls & Flip Flops Tea Shop. “I think I romanticized about it.  I feel so much more confident & prepared as a result of attending New Business Boot Camp.”

ClassroomJennifer Clark-Novak was impressed by opportunity to network with attendees and share insights during a series of informative presentations from marketing and legal concerns to pricing and managing merchant accounts. She said she plans to open a tea house in Sparks, Nev. A career in finance prepared her well for operating a business, but Clark-Novak signed up to learn more about what exactly camellia sinensis is, how it is processed and consumed, and why it’s the second most consumed beverage on earth.

“This event reinforces the fact that this is a really good industry to get in to right now. People in the U.S. market are more and more interested in tea, and the business is clearly growing,” said Clark-Novak.

Jolena Weisenfeld, who opened a small store front in Washington State called Legacy Teas, said she came to deepen her tea knowledge. She aspires to create unique tea blends that “combine the rich heritage of tea with the rich produce of the Yakima Valley.”

Yaron Avidan traveled from Tel Aviv with a goal of further developing a tea retail concept on his return.  “Time went by so fast, that the eight hours seemed like only one because I was constantly engaged,” said Avidan. “The content was highly informative and the presenters were fantastic,” he said. Yaron also noted how valuable the networking opportunity was to him.

Jane Pettigrew
Jane Pettigrew

The second day of Boot Camp began with the World Origin Tasting Tour. Attendees receive passports, board an imaginary plane, and are guided by renowned tea expert Jane Pettigrew around the globe visiting the top tea producing countries in the world.

“It was great to be on the other side of a tasting,” said Margarethe Thye-Miville of the Tea & Wine Loft in Ft. Meyers, Fla.  “I learned a lot of ways to make tea tastings successful and a lot of information on the specific origins.”

Lana Cichon’s husband, Ray, joined her for the second day of tastings. “I really felt like we were in each of the countries we visited,” he said.

Cherie Mansberger, owner of a tea & smoothie bar in York, Penn., summed it up.  “I am tea-logged!  It was a lot of fun and extremely informative and helpful.”


World Origins Tour

The World Origins Tour was an exceptionally informative overview of each of the major tea producing origins that also included focused tastings.

Travelers on their imaginary tour of Sri Lanka had the opportunity to taste a high-grown and biodynamic green tea.

Then it was off to the highest mountains in the world where participants tasted Himalayan Shangri-La Gold from Nepal, with its rich, caramel color.

Tea To TasteJapan presented a unique brown rice toasted Match-Infused Genmaicha and a traditional hand-whisked ceremonial Matcha tea. Then it was on to Kenya, and a tasting of Royal Golden Safari, a rare tippy black orthodox named after the first woman in Africa to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize: Wangari Muta Maathai.

China, presented by Beth Johnston, included a series of teas from the famous pan-fried Dragon Well tea to Bai Hao Silver Needle, a prized, hand-plucked white tea.

After arriving in India, the newly seasoned tea travelers learned about the strong black teas of Assam and sampled both first and second flush teas from the famous region of Darjeeling.

The event ended on a strong note- a series of exceptional oolongs from Taiwan, ranging from the flowery and sweet Pouchong to the dark and woody Brandy Oolong. The event was a commendable overview of the history of each origin, its harvests, and the quality and taste of the teas that are grown there.

— Maya Albanese