Editor’s Choice Tea Industry News and Features
Amy Moore – the North American distributor of Teko Tea first discovered the traditional Icelandic tea blends on the shelves of Duty Free Iceland, the tax free store at Keflavik Airport in Iceland. It was love at first sight for Moore, who went from a customer to distributor in less than one year.
Teko Tea offers a variety of tea blends that feature wild-picked Icelandic herbs and sourced green and black tea, creating intriguing flavors. The company, which began distributing in the United States in 2020, was recently featured at the World Tea Virtual Summit in October, and it was nominated for a 2020 World Tea Best of Award in the category of “Best Tea Startup” – which recognizes a new tea business that’s a shining example of how to do things right.
World Tea News chats with Moore, who’s developed a deep appreciation of the benefits of drinking tea, to learn more about Teko Tea, what makes it unique, and how the company is working with tea retailers.
Question: Tell us about your trip to Iceland that brought you into the world of tea. You discovered Teko Tea on the shelves of the Duty-Free Iceland shop, correct?
Answer: I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to travel around Europe and homeschool my kids for about a year. After a trip to Copenhagen, on our way back home to Denver, my kids – ages six and eight – and I made a stop in Iceland. It was a short and adventurous visit, including a flat tire in the lava fields between the Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik. It was at the Keflavík International Airport, where I discovered Teko Tea. I fell in love immediately! While it was the branding that caught my eye, the luxurious experience of drinking the intriguing tea blends is what really got me hooked.
Question: How long have you been distributing Teko Tea in North America and what’s been the reception so far?
Answer: I started distributing Teko’s Traditional Icelandic Tea Blends in the United States in early 2020. The most common response I get from people is, “I didn’t know Iceland has traditional tea blends.” Overall, sales have been highest in my childhood-state of Minnesota, where many claim the Scandinavian heritage and uphold Scandinavian traditions. Knowing the climate of both locations, it comes as no surprise that tea is a perfect fit.
Question: What makes the Icelandic blends from Teko Tea so special?
Answer: The native, Icelandic herbs make Teko Tea special. They have a rich history and have been used for over one thousand years as tea and remedies. Icelandic Moss (Fjallagras), for example, is packed with Vitamin C and is said to have helped save the Icelandic people from scurvy. Teko has blended premium, sourced black tea with Icelandic moss, and is one of the more popular blends. Not only is the history of the herbs special but also the way they are harvested. Each herb used in the Teko Tea blends are found in the wild and are hand-picked. You can really taste the delicacy in each cup.
Question: How’s the distribution of Teko Tea going? Have you faced any challenges?
Answer: Yes! The year 2020 is my biggest challenge. Isn’t it everyone’s? In all seriousness, tea distribution is more difficult than I anticipated and, being new to the industry, I’m not sure if this is typical or just the year. Either way, finding retailers who will take the risk and place a large order of a new product has been the most challenging. Teko’s premium sourced tea and wild, hand-picked native herbs warrant a high price point (MSRP $15/box + S/H). Many resellers have expressed challenges with selling the inventory they have on their shelves, let alone bringing in new products.
Question: What do you want tea retailers to know about Teko Tea and its tea blends?
Answer: I want retailers to know Teko Tea is special. Not only will you get unique flavors of tea, but you will also be supporting an international relationship between women business-owners, specifically an international relationship between mothers who support each other. In the short time I have known Sigrún Jenný Barðadóttir, CEO and Co- Founder of Teko ehf., we have gone through death, divorce and a pandemic. Over email and through the mail, we support and encourage each other. Teko Tea is much more than what is in your cup.
Question: What kind of support do you offer retailers who sell Teko Tea?
Answer: I don’t have minimums and can customize any order. I also send samples to retailers who inquire. I value the reach established retailers have and know they can help achieve our mission, to bring Icelandic tea blends to the world. Retailers can email me at email@example.com; consumers can buy direct from our online store.
Question: You’re new to working within the tea community. What do you like the most about this industry and do you have any observations?
Answer: When I told a friend of mine that I was distributing Icelandic tea, he said, “That sounds so bougie!” I shrugged it off and have found the industry to be far from the old, stereotypical reputation it once had. I love the sense of peace and serenity that comes with the act of brewing and drinking a cup of tea and how that ripples through the people in the industry. It’s an act rooted in wellness – well before it was a popular term. I love the inherent international component of the tea industry. I love how supportive the community is. For example, there is a small group of us from the 2020 World Tea Virtual Summit working on product swaps. [Join them @2020virtualsummitproductswap]. There were so many leaders and successful business people who offered their services during the World Tea Virtual Summit.
Question: You also host a podcast. Tell us about that podcast and how you’ve used it to promote tea.
Answer: Yes, I co-host Less Alone: A Podcast About Connection with two friends. Life can be a wild ride and has been for me personally and professionally since the spring of 2019. Within a matter of weeks, I launched a podcast and filed for divorce. For both reasons, my life is forever changed. Ironically, our podcast is all about connection, and we explore every area related to the topic.
Our first season was different from our second, as we interviewed special guests in the latter. Then, with COVID-19, connection took on an entirely different meaning. Currently, we are planning our next season. With my sales background, I was tasked with finding sponsors for our award-winning podcast. My first thought was to reach out to brands that I already loved to sponsor our show. So, before I started distributing Teko Tea, I emailed the owner, Sigrún Jenný Barðadóttir, about our podcast and asked if she would consider a sponsorship. She responded quickly and we immediately connected over our shared interests – self-improvement and empowerment of women.
Sigrún is part of a women’s group in Iceland [FKA, Association of Women Business Leaders]. Originally, we sold all the tea Sigrún sent and used all the money to offset our podcast production expenses. Now, we have ads for Teko Tea throughout the podcast and soon, I’ll be sharing a promo code so anyone coming to purchase the tea through the podcast will get a unique deal.
Question: Since you’re a skilled podcaster, what advice do you have for professionals and businesses who may want to start their own podcast as a way to promote tea. Is it a route they should take?
Answer: Rumor has it podcast listenership is down due to fewer people commuting to work. I have no idea if this is true or not as our numbers continue to rise. Currently, as I write this, we have 50,364 total downloads. My advice for professionals and businesses interested in starting their own podcast: Don’t do it alone and love the people you create it with. From start to finish, each episode is a lot of work. Thankfully, my friends and I have divided the workload.
Question: What does the future hold for Teko Tea?
Answer: I will always be looking for ways to accomplish the Teko Tea mission: to bring Icelandic tea blends to the world. That said, I am always looking for retailers, both big and small. Someday, I hope to give back by supporting women-owned businesses and, especially, newly single moms going through high-conflict divorces.
Question: Thanks for your time! Last question: This year has been challenging for many people across many industries. What advice or words of encouragement do you have for the tea industry at large or specifically for tea retailers?
Answer: I try to avoid giving advice but this is what I know to be true for me today:
1. Connect (with people, pets, nature – with whatever brings you even the smallest bit of joy)
2. Don’t stop (rest, but don’t stop)
3. No more silence, no more shame; exposure of injustice is key, albeit videos, documents or personal stories.
To learn more about Teko Tea, visit TekoTea.us.
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