Inspired by the suffragettes of the early 20th century and Sonoma County’s wine industry, UppercaseTea takes pride in being Sonoma’s artisan tea maker while continuing the tradition of bringing women together over tea to affect positive change.
Founder Alison Kilmer’s background as the co-owner of a branding agency put her in touch with entrepreneurs who had purpose-driven companies that used commerce for social good. “I always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I wanted to create a social venture of my own,” said Kilmer, who fell in love with rooibos tea during a cleanse and set out to modernize tea for today’s woman. She also wanted to support sisterhood and how women have united throughout history and in modern times to support each other.
“I started looking into the history of sisterhood. I learned about the suffragettes and the history of women coming together over tea at times when they were oppressed. The things they were able to accomplish when gathering around this beverage were pretty remarkable,” said Kilmer. “Our right to vote came from the women gathering in Seneca Falls and mobilizing behind closed doors; they weren’t allowed to gather in public without their husbands.” Tea had a role in creating positive change for womenkind.
She founded UppercaseTea in 2018 and sees tea as a means of uniting women from all walks of life, and a basis for creating an inter-generational sisterhood.
Tea can also be used as a mindful beverage to counterbalance demanding lifestyles and assist in creating moments of clarity, as well as positive change both on individual and collective levels, added Kilmer.
UppercaseTea offers the Me-Ceremony tea set to inspire women to stop for 10 minutes per day for self-care. Its design complements a modern woman’s lifestyle by combining English refinement and Eastern Zen. The Me-Ceremony tea set incorporates the Me-Pot—an 8-ounce glass teapot and stainless-steel infuser—and an 8-ounce teacup and saucer made of reclaimed seashells. Two packets of each of the company’s six organic single estate loose leaf teas (white tea, green tea, oolong tea, black tea, pu-erh tea and rooibos herbal tea) are included. Each Me-Pack contains 4 grams of tea—perfectly measured for the infuser—and all twelve Me-Packs are contained in a reusable box. Accompanying the tea set is an app that perfectly times brewing for each type of tea.
While sipping tea, women can collect their thoughts and ponder their own lives, the world around them and possibly things they can do to create positive change. “It’s just not part of our culture in the United States,” said Kilmer, “I wanted to find a way to make it a part of our daily culture.” She also encourages people to gather with others with their Me-Ceremony sets.
UppercaseTea’s Sisterhood of Tea has two branches: a philanthropic branch that champion’s women’s and children’s causes, and a closed Facebook group where current women’s issues are discussed.
UppercaseTea partners with Teen Services Sonoma and employs teenage girls to pack loose leaf tea and to hand steep
rooibos tea for the ready-to-drink line. Additionally, the company donates a portion of its proceeds to Teen Services Sonoma and other local organizations, including the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club and Wine Women, a local non-profit, the Fred Finch Youth Center, which helps children survive trauma, and Voices Youth Center, which helps youth transition out of foster care.
“Our interest is in connecting very deeply with our community and letting it resonate out organically from there,” said Kilmer. “Where we are going to get our growth is through a deep connection with people,” which she finds more authentic and fulfilling than the typical capitalistic marketing practices.
“The Sisterhood of Tea also represents a mindset of a collective of women. Anybody who interacts with our company or buys our product or is part of our Facebook group is part of the Sisterhood of Tea,” said Kilmer.
UppercaseTea supplies tea to the foodservice, hospitality and grocery sectors in the area and can be purchased by consumers online where subscriptions are also offered. UppercaseTea also offers its signature black and rooibos teas in 100% biodegradable pyramid tea bags. The line will be expanded in the future to include other teas. All of the teas have a bold but smooth taste.
The rooibos iced tea is currently sold in specialty grocery stores in Sonoma County. The rooibos iced tea will also be sold on draft at the Bottle Rock music, food and wine festival in Napa Valley May 24-26, 2019.