This week we caught up with the team at Steepster, a community of devoted tea drinkers who believe that “tea, along with its simplicity, rituals and inherent slowness provides a much-needed contrast to the speed of life.”
Tell us a bit about Steepster.
Steepster is an online tea community where people can connect with other tea enthusiasts around the world, share ratings, reviews and tasting notes for the teas they’re drinking, and get a subscription to receive some of our favorite teas. By following others on the site, Steepster members can see what they’re friends are drinking and in the process and discover new teas through people they trust.
When did you first have the idea to start your business and why?
In 2009, a few of us were switching from coffee to tea and really wanted a place where we could learn from more experienced tea drinkers. Steepster grew into just that–a vibrant site where people can find, rate and buy their favorite teas in addition to sharing their knowledge and excitement. We are also a great source for novices to learn about tea and experts to share their knowledge.
How is tea different country to country?
All tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. Depending on the country of origin, the same plant can be processed differently to create the unique regional types and styles of tea. For example, green tea from China is picked and quickly pan fired, while Indian black tea is picked and allowed to fully oxidize before processing. These special techniques explain how the same plant can account for so many wonderfully different types of tea.
Is tea becoming more popular in the U.S.? Why?
Tea is exploding in popularity, and it is younger people who are driving the change. Nearly three out of four people under 35 have tea in their house. People who drink tea are seeking a different experience–they want to explore new tastes, they want balance, and they want a product that is good for them. Tea, with its rich history, wide range of tastes, zero calories, and prevalence of antioxidants, has really fit into the way Millennials want to live their lives.
What kind of LivingSocial customers do you think are purchasing the Steepster subscription?
We’ve seen a lot of people who are interested in exploring the world of loose leaf tea, but who didn’t really know how to start. This deal has given them a low cost and simple way to begin. We’ve already seen a lot of people from LivingSocial become repeat customers–which makes us thrilled.