This summer, Verdant Tea is moving to China! To better serve our partner farmers and all of you, we will be moving our operations to China this August and shipping directly from the tea farm to your door.

Verdant Tea was founded to advocate for the passionate, small family tea farmers that devote their lives to making the best tea in the world for us all to enjoy. I first met the farmer families that we work with as a student researcher collecting the folklore of tea. I have known many of our partners for ten years, watching as they invent new kinds of tea, as their families grow. Verdant Tea is tribute to these people- the He Family, Master Zhang, the Qianjiazhai Zhenyuan Dongsa Farmer’s cooperative, the Li Family. We exist to tell their stories and share their work so that they can thrive and continue sharing their craft for generations to come.

We’re committed to transparency.

We made a commitment in 2015 to strip back the curtain on sourcing tea and reveal how the industry works in the hopes that knowledge will help the industry reform to truly benefit the farmers who make the teas we love. We issued a challenge to tea businesses to end their relationships with exploitative brokers and seek to support small farms directly, to ship their tea fresh after picking, to forge long term partnerships with their farmer partners and to truly contribute to the industry through education and honesty. This challenge is a multi-part series: Transparency in the Tea Industry.

Our own uncompromising examination of the industry as a whole was also a challenge to ourselves. How can Verdant Tea do more to justify its reason for being? How can we do more to support the farmers who make it all possible and to step back and let them shape their own stories and connect with their customers? How can we bring tea in even fresher for those early harvests, and offer a wider range of teas from each family we represent?

We realized that we needed to reimagine our business, and think of ourselves not as resellers but as facilitators. After many long discussions with our partners in China, we have come up with a new model for our business that will allow us to be everything we are demanding of the industry.

DSC_3144_behindthescenese_laoshan

So we’re moving to China.

This July, we are moving our operations from Minneapolis, MN all the way back to China. Instead of picking out a small selection of our farmer partners’ teas and shipping them to the United States before sending them on to you, we will actually be helping our farmer partners sell their entire collections and ship directly from the farm to you. Starting with the He Family in Laoshan Village, we will be opening a tasting room and tea shop with He Qingqing. We’re partnering with He Qingqing and Wei Wei Ren to help show off the best of the He Family’s collection with the world by packing tea in Laoshan, directly from their farm into bags to order and then right to your door.

laoshan_1_heqingqing_niuniu-0070

The freshest tea comes right from the source.

Mrs Li in Dragonwell Village, Li Xiangxi in Wuyi, Mr. Zhou from the Qianjiazhai Farmer’s Cooperative, and Mr. Zhang in Anxi will be sealing up bags of tea twice a week from their absolute freshest harvests directly after finishing and sending them overnight to Laoshan twice weekly for us to pack up for your orders. This means that when you order Tieguanyin or green tea, you will be getting the freshest tea possible.

Our partners get to decide what to send to Laoshan, and they are looking forward to taking an extremely active role in curating their own collections based on the weather and growing conditions each season. All fresh teas will stay sealed, from the moment they are picked to the moment you open them to brew up the first infusion. The flavor difference is going to be tremendously exciting.

laoshan_1_workshop_hehe-9793laoshan_1_workshop_datian_leaves-9731

What does this mean for you?

DIRECT, RELIABLE SHIPPING:  Your tea will still ship with USPS Priority mail. Even more exciting, we will be able to offer free shipping on most orders, and provide up to date tracking information on every shipment, every step of the way. After extensive testing, we have confirmed that tea packages arrive within 10 business days of shipping from Laoshan Village. This is about 5-6 days longer than current priority shipping from our Minneapolis office in most cases, however, it cuts out the initial week to ship the tea from China to the United States in the first place, and means that tea gets to you without having to wait for anything to be repacked here in Minneapolis. The total time in transit is reduced, and warehousing is eliminated entirely.   This means much fresher tea for you, and saves us all from wasteful and redundant extra shipping.

MORE TEA, MORE OFTEN: Over the next few months, you will see our collection expand dramatically to include a wider range from each of our partners. As new harvests start coming in the autumn, you will continue to see our prices stay low or – in some cases – going down whenever weather and picking conditions allow. Apart from expected seasonal stock changes, you will see almost no teas going out of stock; we will always have access to the full collections from each of our partners, meaning no more waits when your favorite sells out.

ALL NEW VERDANTTEA.COM: As part of our move to China, we will also be unveiling a beautiful new website on August 7th. We’re redesigning from the ground up around the single idea that Verdant Tea is all about facilitating our farmer friends’ work. The new site will showcase each of our partners’ stories and give them more control over their own branding and content. You will be able to get to know our friends much better through more pictures, more interviews, and a vastly expanded blog. We are incredibly excited to update our site to truly represent what we believe in. Each of our partners has had an active hand in the redesign of the site, advocating for their priorities in what content to emphasize.

MORE PARTNERS: The new site and the new fulfilment from China will open up a great opportunity for us to partner with even more farmers in the coming years and share the work of more families across China. We are really excited to be able to represent more passionate farmers and bring underrepresented teas to the world. For example, after we successfully build out the He Family’s tea shop in Laoshan Village and set up our partners to curate their own collections, we will be turning towards another project in cooperation with Mr. Chen in Xiamen to open a gallery representing up-and-coming yixing artists and Jingdezhen ceramicists. Over the course of the autumn, you will see our tea wares collection expand dramatically, supplemented by interviews with the artists, more biographies, more photos, demo videos and detailed information on each piece we sell.

laoshan_1_weiwei_david_laoshanblack-0102

It’s the Best of Both Worlds

My wife Lily and I will be spending much of each year in China: collecting stories, photographing beautiful tea wares, tasting tea with our partners and helping however we can.

Our team in America is and will always be here, ready to answer your questions. No need to worry about time differences or language barriers: we will continue to take phone calls at our office in Minneapolis and answer any support questions you might have from Minneapolis. We will be combining the speed, efficiency, and dedicated support of an American tea company with the pricing and variety of a Chinese tea company, all while benefiting our farmer partners like never before.

daping_david-9818

Help us move with Sales & Clearances!

In the coming weeks, you’ll see many clearances going up as we work to transition our inventory in America to our new Laoshan-based fulfillment. Blends, pu’er, and many seasonal teas will be going up for 25% off, while the bulk of our collection will be on sale for at least 10% off.

Our current collection of blends will be sold until stock is exhausted, and then all of our blends will be archived.This will make room for new traditional teas or blends made with traditional Chinese herbs. In the meantime, we will be sharing the full recipes and ingredients for all of your favorite blends.

We will continue fulfilling regular order from Minneapolis until August 6th.

boxes-free-shipping-7947

We’re updating Tea of the Month Club.

August Tea of the Month Club will ship from Minneapolis, while September will ship from Laoshan. Our partners in China are excited about improving our Tea of the Month Club, and will be taking turns curating each month to include a much wider variety of teas to try with each shipment. We are excited to share the details when the club re-opens for new members with the new site launch on August 7th. We’ll be writing to current club members first with all of the details, and then re-opening the club to share with new tea lovers.  Farmers like Mr. He and Li Xiangxi are looking at the club as a way to really introduce themselves to you and show off what they are capable of, including lots of seasonal exclusives and test productions of theirs. We just can’t wait!

Tea of the Month Club XL

Thank you for making it all possible!

2015 has been a year of tremendous growth and change for us, and I am excited beyond belief to announce this entirely new way of doing business in tea. It is my hope that it let’s our partners achieve their goals to share what they love across the world while giving you the chance to try an ever wider and ever fresher selection.

If you have any questions about the upcoming changes, don’t hesitate to get in touch directly through support@verdanttea.com

Sincerely,
David

13 Responses to “Big Changes for Verdant Tea”

    • Lily Duckler

      Thank you, Laura!

      Good question – here in the Twin Cities, we’ve actually already moved! We are currently working on a new collaborative project in a beautiful space in NE Minneapolis at Intelligent Nutrients.

      We moved in fall 2014 into a warehouse and distribution center just down the street in Seward (the Snelling Distribution Center on E 24th St). to focus on helping our partners at Tree Fort Soda and Prohibition Kombucha build up and prepare for their first official, large production runs.

      In the meantime, we are popping up and serving afternoon gongfu tea at IN Spirits by Prohibition – the new bar collaboration we’re helping to open at Intelligent Nutrients. The bar is open on Thursdays and Fridays: afternoon tea is from 3-5pm, and aromatic cocktails are available from 4-8pm.

      In fact, we’re having the public Grand Opening party this Thursday (July 16th) at Intelligent Nutrients, from 5pm – 8pm. If you’re in town, we’d love to see you there!

      You can also always find out more about what we’re up to on our local website:
      http://minneapolis.verdanttea.com

      Though we will be spending much of the year in China, our US operations will still be based here in the Twin Cities. We’re really excited to be collaborating with so many fantastic people around the world, in China and here in MN!

  1. Veronica Gard

    This is so interesting and inspiring. I haven’t ordered from you for a long time but I shall be in the future. You really talk the talk by moving yourselves and your business to China. What an adventure!
    I am a storyteller and perhaps could tell stories about your growers – it could make for an interesting event!!

    • Lily Duckler

      Thank you, Veronica! We’re really excited to take things to the next level. We’ve been planning this for quite some time, so it is truly exciting to finally share our plans with everyone.

      If we can ever help you with a storytelling event, don’t hesitate to reach out! We were researchers first, collecting and translating the folk stories behind tea, so that is still very near and dear to our hearts.

    • Lily Duckler

      Thank you so much – we are missing you, too, as you’re off on a great adventure of your own!!

      Who knows? This may give us even more opportunities to meet up as we travel to and fro! And with family in the Twin Cities, this will be a home base for us for many years.

      Wish you all the very best :)

  2. Sam Sparks

    I love how you guys are so dedicated to a creating more transparent, personal, and ethical tea industry, and wish you all the best for the move. Also, I wanted to let you know that I greatly enjoy your articles and videos, and the brewing and tasting guides were incredibly helpful when I first discovered Chinese and Taiwanese tea but had little idea how to make it!

    I was wondering, will the move to China possibly mean you can ship to Australia?

    • Lily Duckler

      Hi Sam – thank you so much for your kind words!

      And YES, we will be able to ship to Australia :) When we first started investigating shipping about a year ago, we knew that we had to find a way to share our partners’ teas with tea lovers in Australia.

      All the best – Lily

  3. it’s good you’re figuring out perhaps a more accessible path as a huge fan it’s become difficult to get your tea and I’m stuck drinking blah blah tea. I hope you can sell your tea at IN in bulk? is that possible?

    Hope so.

  4. John N

    Congratulations – it all sounds tremendously exciting!
    And I’ll be happy to have the oolongs, in particular, always available)))

    If you ever choose a particularly fine yellow tea, I’d be excited to try it. Looking forward to discoveries!

Leave a Reply to Sam Sparks

Click here to cancel reply.