Mark Philip got here to tea the best way many tea drinkers do: in search of more healthy decisions. He fell in love with the common-or-garden leaf (as all of us do!), and determined to begin a tea firm devoted to discovering teas folks will like to drink, Storm King Tea. Learn all about Mark’s ardour for tea, why he runs a tea firm, and the way his method to tea is expounded to chef Emeril Lagasse, beneath!
I’ve all the time dreamed of beginning my very own enterprise, and determined to take that plunge final summer season. The concept was (and nonetheless is) that I may begin a enterprise centered round a product that I’m enthusiastic about. Something that I may be ok with offering folks: which they might take pleasure in whereas being ‘healthful’ . . . I didn’t wish to promote something which might be a supply of detriment in somebody’s life. For me, that has all the time been meals and beverage. I graduated from (what was then named) The French Culinary Institute in Downtown Manhattan, and had labored as a prepare dinner for years. Food, and drinks like tea have all the time been an indulgence that I really feel optimistic about pursuing as a part of my wholesome life-style. Over the years I slowly began changing a few of my lower than wholesome meals decisions and habits with more healthy choices and steadiness. I discovered that wholesome consuming habits are particularly rewarding as a result of they couple satisfying nourishment with the peace of thoughts that we’re serving to our our bodies as an alternative of wounding them. I by no means make well being claims about my teas as there may be loads of data obtainable for folks to make their very own educated decisions about what they drink or eat for these causes, however I’m comforted by the truth that prime quality teas do have a spot in a wholesome life-style. To sum it up: I’ve all the time had the will to begin my very own enterprise, however it needed to be based mostly round one thing that I felt good about. I’m very dedicated to Storm King Tea, and take the enterprise severely, however I’m not prepared to compromise my values for the sake of revenue. This is why my marketing strategy is straightforward: discover tea folks will love, present correct data and nice customer support, provide that tea at a good worth, rinse and repeat. If I cannot maintain Storm King Tea by following these rules then there is not going to be a enterprise, however I imagine that doing the best factor will result in success.How do you choose the teas your promote?
I actually attempt to add some worth to our choices by deciding on high quality representations of the teas you’ll discover at Storm King Tea. In different phrases, I’ll pattern teas from a number of sources, farms, and varied suppliers. I can’t merely discover a supply for one fashion of tea at worth and purchase a bunch of it to promote. Instead, I’ll examine a tea . . . shall we say a specific fashion of Oolong, to others from the identical area with the identical processing strategies and select based mostly on these cuppings, the standard of the fabric, the worth, and so forth.. I don’t see tea as a mere generic commodity. Each tea must be cupped, in comparison with others, then a choice is made whether or not or not inclusion into our catalog is merited. I bear in mind speaking with a provider who wished to promote me tea, and after I requested him in regards to the supply and qualities of a specific selection he stated one thing alongside the traces of ‘effectively the tea is simply the tea, . . . it’s what it’s . . . ‘ after which began speaking about pricing and availability. I used to be so turned off that I simply thought “thanks, but no thanks,” and walked away. That is what I imply after I say that some folks see tea as a mere commodity. We don’t see it this fashion.
What is among the largest challenges of promoting tea on-line?
The absolute largest problem is getting the phrase out, and having folks discover you. Like I stated earlier we have now a easy philosophy and should not prepared to compromise our integrity. My hope is that further success will observe so long as we proceed to function on these rules. So far ALL of our suggestions has been optimistic. No complaints to this point which is each wonderful to me, and provoking. Social media has been a giant assist in advertising the web site: stormkingtea.com and getting the phrase out . . . in order a shameless plug I’ll say that if anybody studying this likes us then it’s a large assist for those who share your experiences on social media. Plus, we have now added most of our catalog on amazon.com so this helps with publicity.
How are you impressed by Storm King Mountain, the namesake of your organization and the realm the place you reside?
I moved to the Hudson Valley of NY after dwelling within the metropolis most of my life, and by no means appeared again. Because I actually do love the place I dwell I wished to pay homage to the area. Storm King Mountain has been referred to as the ‘gateway to the Hudson Valley’ and is fairly well-known all through the state. Besides, “Storm King” merely sounds so cool to me . . . it simply clicked. My spouse designed the brand, and the remainder is historical past. Plus, we simply acquired phrase from the US Patent and Trademark Office that our brand and identify has acquired a Copyright so it’s official.
I nonetheless love town, however the lifestyle only a few hours north is way more laid again and this fits me higher, and is best suited to my household life.
You have expertise working within the culinary arts. How does this expertise form your tea firm?
Probably in additional methods than I consciously understand. On the one hand critiquing tea for high quality and consistency is one thing that anybody can do. i.e.: folks know what they like and what they don’t like so I don’t wish to create an excessive amount of of a mystique, however actually scrutinizing flavors, really feel, consistency, and so forth., is one thing I’m conversant in and comfy doing. Also, I’m cognizant to meals issues of safety and dealing with. It is extraordinarily uncommon for anybody to get sick from ingesting tea . . . solely a handful of circumstances have been reported worldwide and sure because of cross contamination. But, security is vital to me so I take advantage of co-packers with certifications from the FDA, native boards of well being, and a HACCP plan in place or different certifications and requirements relying on who I’ve packaging the teas at a given time.
When it involves tea I all the time suppose again to the Emeril cooking present from the 90’s I suppose it was. He would all the time demystify what he was getting ready by saying one thing alongside the traces of “we’re just cooking here . . . no big deal.” He’d say this as he ready one thing that was fairly spectacular to take a look at, and doubtless a bit intimidating to some much less skilled cooks. He would put what he was educating inside attain of his viewers by saying this even when it appeared overwhelming to a few of his viewers; he’d reassure them it wasn’t something they might not do themselves. Without belittling the world of tea we’re all so enthusiastic about (and all the fervour, custom, and ability that it takes to develop and produce it – which is actually wonderful) it’s in spite of everything an in any other case humble, and fairly easy beverage to arrange. As I’ve heard many cooks and cooks say over time about good meals or good elements (and it applies to nice tea as effectively): begin with good things and check out to not screw it up. So, I suppose there may be a whole lot of crossover between the best way I view meals and culinary arts, and the way tea matches into that paradigm.
Do you could have any upcoming tasks for Storm King Tea?
I’m planning a to launch some new teas and selection packs quickly. I’m additionally engaged on rolling out an incentive plan to clients to allow them to earn credit by making purchases. Credits may have a money worth redeemable in the direction of the acquisition of something in our catalog. When that is rolled out I’ll apply credit to any pre-existing purchases which have already been made. This method current clients don’t really feel like they’ve been penalized for purchasing with us earlier than this system was carried out. And, finally I wish to provide a wholesale catalog to different professionals, and retailers that make it straightforward to buy nice teas within the portions they want with none undue issues or pointless bills to the method.
Do you could have any private tea rituals?
My habits are all the time altering. I’m not loyal to at least one fashion of tea, nor do I’ve any strict allegiance to a specific brewing technique. I’ll are likely to brew sure teas in a Gaiwan or clay pot (typically rapidly and typically with deliberation bordering on meditation), and others I’ll typically put together Western, or Grandpa Style. It all depends upon the tea, my temper, or comfort on the time.