November 20, 2017
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Dallas-Based Rakkasan Tea Company Opens for Business after Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
The veteran-owned company will promote peace and economic development by hiring veterans to import and sell premium loose-leaf tea grown in post-conflict countries
Dallas, TX – After raising more than $36,000 during a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign this summer, Rakkasan Tea Company announced today that its products are available for purchase online. Those products include unique loose-leaf selections from Nepal, Rwanda and Sri Lanka.
“It’s been a wild year getting this up and running,” said RTC founder Brandon Friedman. “We went from having this idea to selling holiday gift packs in less than 10 months. There’s been a ton of interest because we’re offering types of tea you don’t find in your local grocery store. And it’s for a good cause.”
RTC hopes to facilitate recovery from war at home and abroad. While hiring U.S. military veterans, the company works solely with sustainable and organic tea estates as a way to promote peace and economic growth in post-conflict countries. For example, Amba Estate, RTC’s Sri Lankan supplier, shares 10 percent of its revenue with employees—half Tamil and half Sinhalese—in the wake of a 30-year-long civil war.
Since January 2017, RTC has worked with VetImpact, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that guides veteran-owned businesses through international commerce in a partnership with Deloitte Consulting and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. RTC also completed a nine-week incubator with Bunker Labs, a national business accelerator for veteran-owned businesses.
In November 2017, Global Chamber® Dallas named RTC its “Startup Impact Importer of the Year.”
“When we created VetImpact, Rakkasan Tea Company was exactly the type of startup we had in mind,” said VetImpact founder Nick Kesler. “RTC has a great story and they’re entering a consumer space that’s really exploding. We expect them to catch the wave.”
With the planned closure of Starbucks-owned Teavana stores by early 2018, RTC expects to see an uptick in demand for premium and specialty tea sold elsewhere—especially online.
About the founder
Brandon Friedman launched Rakkasan Tea Company in 2017 as a way to meet growing U.S. demand while promoting peace and economic development in post-conflict countries. He has completed the Specialty Tea Institute's Level I and Level II courses on his way to becoming a Certified Tea Specialist recognized by the Tea Association of the USA.
Along with RTC, he is the co-founder and CEO of The McPherson Square Group, a PR and strategic communications firm. In 2014 – 2015, Brandon served in the Obama administration as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he played a key role leading communications for Secretary Julián Castro and the department’s 8,000 employees. Brandon previously served as a vice president with global PR firm FleishmanHillard, as the first Director of Digital Strategy at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and as a spokesperson for VoteVets.org. He began his career in 2000 as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
His memoir, The War I Always Wanted, was recognized in 2010 by The Military Times as one of “The Best Military Books of the Decade.” Brandon writes regularly on politics and the military for The New York Daily News. He recently returned to Dallas, Texas, with his family after spending the last eight years in Washington, D.C.
About the U.S. tea market
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water and can be found in almost 80 percent of U.S. households. The U.S. tea market in 1990 was worth $1.84 billion. Today that market is worth $12 billion annually.
According to the Tea Association of the USA (www.teausa.com):
· The U.S. is the third largest importer of tea in the world, after Russia and Pakistan.
· The U.S. is the only Western country which is still growing in both tea imports and consumption.
· The overall market is healthy and continues to grow in the U.S., with a 1% increase in total imports.
· Premium loose-leaf is 1% of the market, but sector growth is 8-10% per year.
· Consumers are turning to premium specialty tea brands, which are growing at a faster rate than mass market brands.
· Approximately four in five consumers drink tea, with Millennials being the most likely (87% of millennials drink tea).
· Consumers are becoming more engaged with their teas and want to learn more and more about where their teas come from; how they are harvested and manufactured; how the product supports the livelihoods of those making it; and, how friendly the product is to the environment.
· Countries of origin are also protecting and advertising their teas through geographic designations and terroir trademarks.
Rakkasan Tea Company works with farmers in post-conflict countries to import and sell premium loose-leaf tea. We hire military veterans to do it.
 World Tea News. Steady Tea Growth Through 2020. December 13, 2016. http://worldteanews.com/news/steady-tea-growth-2020