Taiwan has grown tea for about three centuries, but it’s almost a secret offshore because most local tea leaves are also consumed locally. Now an entrepreneur in Taiwan hopes to change that routine by sending packages of high-end leaves abroad via e-commerce.
Laura Lu founded Le Vert Thé five years ago to interest the global market in local teas. She’s a tea fanatic herself and naturally likes her homeland.
Le Vert Thé means “green tea” in French, which Lu was studying when she opened the shop.
Selling tea culture
Taiwan draws its most valued and flavorful tea, an oolong, tea from a spot called Da Yu Ling in the high mountains of central Taiwan. But few people know Taiwan has this locale or that it’s known for tea. Lu also habitually drinks tea, so she wants to make more people to know about its flavor as well as its origins.
Tea was introduced to Taiwan from nearby Fujian province in China in the 1700s. Taiwan was growing about 20,000 metric tons of tea per year as of 2009 but seeing a fall in exports.
Taiwan lacks the land of larger tea-growing countries, but older Taiwanese often brew their own from locally grown leaves in clay pots with other specialized implements. Some specialty shops, as well as Starbucks, also make a point of serving Taiwanese tea.
Lu hopes to merge tea and Taiwanese brewing culture through her sales.
“The essence of drinking a good cup of tea is from its quality, and how you brew it also matters a lot,” she told Business Next Media.
Lu, as a interior designer herself, uses her old talent to design Le Vert Thé ’s tealeaf boxes with a look that she describes as simple beauty.
She uses eco-friendly packaging for every item and avoids packaging waste.
As for what’s inside each box, Lu uses her connections with local tea growers to pick every type of tea herself with an eye toward quality.
Le Vert The began selling tea to friends and family when the brand was first founded and eventually moved into e-commerce. Customers order it now straight from the vendor’s official website. They come from places as far flung as Australia and Denmark, Lu said.
“After buying our tea first time, now, (customers from Australia and Denmark) become the regular customers to purchase the tea, which shows our quality of tea is consistent,” Lu said.
As her reputation spread, the Eslite mall chain in Taiwan asked Le Vert Thé to open a store inside a branch in Taipei. Although no longer with Eslite, she now selling tea leaves in a restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Taipei.
〔Original :Meet Startup @TW〕