Rakkasan Tea Company will Hire Veterans to Import Tea Grown in Post-Conflict Countries
August 21, 2017
Dallas-based startup to launch with a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign the week of August 22
Dallas, TX – Uncommon tea from uncommon places. That’s what Dallas-based venture Rakkasan Tea Company plans to offer enthusiasts as the U.S. market for premium and specialty continues to grow. During the week of August 21, the company will launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise at least $30,000 for its initial operating capital. The campaign will last for 15 days
A for-profit company with a mission for social good, Rakkasan Tea Company will hire military veterans to import, process and sell the highest-quality loose-leaf tea from the post-conflict countries of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Rwanda, Uganda, Burma and Vietnam. Together, these sources of tea represent less than 10 percent of the U.S. market (most of which is Sri Lankan).
“Tea is like wine or coffee,” said RTC founder Brandon Friedman. “The taste and aroma is impacted substantially by growing conditions, altitude and soil. What we’re offering is a selection of teas that most drinkers in the U.S. haven’t experienced. At the same time, we’re determined to use this as a vehicle to help communities recover from war—both at home and abroad.”
RTC works solely with sustainable and organic tea estates as a way to promote peace and economic growth in communities still recovering from war after years of conflict. For example, Amba Estate, one of RTC’s Sri Lankan suppliers, shares 10 percent of its revenue with employees.
At home, RTC plans to put military veterans to work importing, processing and packaging the loose-leaf tea. RTC will also donate a portion of its profits to veteran organizations like The Pat Tillman Foundation, Fisher House and Student Veterans of America.
Since January 2017, RTC has worked with Bunker Labs (a national veteran-owned business incubator) and 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.
“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 after more than a decade in PR, politics and public service (including as an Obama administration official). A tea drinker since he served as an Army officer in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brandon 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. 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 next to water, and can be found in almost 80% of U.S. households. The U.S. tea market in 1990 was worth $1.84 billion. Today it is a $12 billion industry 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 promotes peace and economic development by importing and selling premium loose-leaf tea grown solely in post-conflict countries. Proudly veteran-owned.
 World Tea News. Steady Tea Growth Through 2020. December 13, 2016. http://worldteanews.com/news/steady-tea-growth-2020