Commerce City, California-based International Tea Importers (ITI) recently formed a marketing partnership with the Colombia-based supplier Agricola Himalaya, which since November 2016 has been promoting its flagship organic specialty brand Bitaco Tea. Through this co-marketing arrangement the companies agree to distribute a new specialty tea collection across the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Bitaco Tea Estate has been operating in the rural La Cumbre municipality in the foothills of the Andes mountains for nearly 60 years as the only tea grower in Colombia.
In 2016, The Bitaco Tea Estate underwent some changes after spending four years doing research and development. The estate converted its tea production from the cut-tear-curl method to orthodox. The company also switched its entire farm and factory from conventional to organic cultivation and manufacturing practices and obtained USDA certification. “It’s easy to be short-sighted, but Bitaco has taken a 100 percent long-term view,” said Santiago Gonzales Dorado, Brand Manager at Agricola Himalaya.
Bitaco’s team learned the best ways of growing and processing white, green and black teas from experts from around the world. Traditional best practices were integrated with the characteristics of Colombia’s tropical climate, rich soil and natural spring water to produce top quality teas with the help of expert blenders, tea masters and cuppers.
“It has given them the opportunity to create some amazing teas,” said Bhavin Shah, CFO and Head of Strategy and Business Development at ITI. “During my recent visit to the Bitaco Tea Estate, I had the opportunity to learn first-hand about the supplier’s innovative approach to tea manufacturing. I was especially pleased to see their modern operations and best in class food safety procedures. We are thrilled to be able to bring this exquisite and high-quality product to our customers.”
One such distinctive tea is Bitaco’s Black Tea Mocha, which was created for ITI. Another is the Tropical tea, which contains fruits native to Colombia.
“We want to let the tea industry know that Colombian tea exists, with ITI getting the product to consumers,” said Gonzales Dorado. ITI is importing, wholesaling and distributing Bitaco’s teas to its Mexico and U.S. operations, including Chado tearooms in the U.S. and the Sinensis tearoom in Tijuana, Mexico. “We’re one of the largest wholesalers to tearooms,” said Shah.
Bitaco’s mission does not stop at producing quality organic tea; the company also supports social programs such as daycares, schools, scholarship funds, and programs for entrepreneurs. Additionally, it prioritizes environmental sustainability and reforestation, giving away 30 – 40 thousand native trees each year. The company is currently in the process of converting to solar energy. “We will be 360 degrees sustainable in terms of social causes and the environment,” said Gonzales Dorado.
Later this year, ITI will offer a free all-expense paid trip to Colombia to the largest Bitaco tea buyer.
Andres Velasco, CEO of Agrícola Himalaya conveyed in a statement, “Bitaco is pleased to enter into a long-term partnership with ITI to bring our unique and rare Colombian Specialty Tea into the U.S., Canada, and Mexico markets. With ITI’s reputation and marketing prowess we are certain that our exceptional teas will be easier to order and will enjoy broad exposure to North America’s tea customers for years to come. We look forward to hosting the winners of the contest later this year and have the opportunity to showcase the innovative tea manufacturing process at Bitaco Tea Estate as well as the beauty and culture of Colombia.”
Bitaco Teas can currently be found in 25 countries across Europe, Asia and North America.