Jan/Feb Meet the Maker: August Uncommon Tea
In our January/February “Awake” box, we featured tea that will help you stay energized throughout the day. Meet the maker August Uncommon Tea, the brand we picked out to include in our first 2017 box. Most people may prefer coffee to jumpstart their morning (we love coffee too!), but tea has that power to keep you functioning throughout the day. We love the options in flavor variety, researched and mixed by master tea blenders! August Uncommon Tea is bringing tea culture to our modern lifestyle, highlighting its sensory pleasure.
Craftly’s Meet the Maker: August Uncommon Tea
Can you tell us about August Uncommon Tea and the people behind it?
We are Aaron Shinn and Gina Zupsich, cofounders. Our company grew out of our love of all things edible, and our desire to create something amazing together. As a married couple, we always dreamed of creating a brand that would draw on our mutual passion for sensorial adventure, as well as our individual expertise. Aaron’s background in visual and product design, and Gina’s in literature, taste and scent give August its unique style.
What’s your company culture like? What is your brand philosophy?
Our culture is casual yet engaged. We aim to strike a balance between formal excellence and experimental playfulness. People assume that we started August because we’re lifelong tea enthusiasts, which is not the case. Tea, for us, is an expression of our creative energies and intellectual curiosity. We want to create a new tea culture in US - moving away from health and wellness, or Asian or European ceremonies, and moving toward flavor and sensory pleasure. That’s why August deliberately cuts ties with traditional tea culture. August invites people to experience tea as an exciting culinary experience here and now. We want our customers to be inspired to create their own rituals and to have totally new tea experiences that are not defined by other cultures or other times. August is tea designed for pleasure.
Describe what led you to where you are now with your company.
It’s our desire to communicate our passion with others. Before August, we were both restless in our careers. As a professor and a designer, our work wasn’t really connecting with a wide audience. We wanted to do something fun and stimulating, something that would bring simple joy to people’s daily lives.
What’s the most exciting experience you’ve had since your business started?
It’s really hard to choose one thing. Our recent collaboration with Salt & Straw ice cream was super exciting. Our brands share the value of making things by a thorough and careful process. They believe in the highest quality of ingredients and are true flavor pioneers. We love working with them and are thrilled to have them use our Silencio tea in a delicious and unusual ice cream blend.
Tell us about the Outlaw & Big Easy Tea we featured in our Jan/Feb box!
Outlaw is a real cowboy kinda blend. Its soft cherry pipe tobacco flavor in a strong black tea was inspired by Gina’s grandfather, a cowboy in real life. The mood is the bravado and grace of classic Western films. The Big Easy is a 180 in terms of flavor. It’s a sweet green tea with a flavor reminiscent of piping hot beignets. The mood is the slow and sweet pace of New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Can you give us an example of what not to do when running a business?
Don’t expect it to run itself. A business requires so much more than creating a strong brand and product. We are always engaged in every aspect of our business, from customer service to marketing, from web design to sales, really everything, even accounting and inventory. You really have to love it because it becomes such a huge part of your life.
What has been the biggest challenge in running the company?
Remaining patient with the market. It takes time to create a brand, and a product, and then so much more time to build an audience. In the early days, we were surprised by how extreme August seems to most people. Then we realized that tea really has yet to have its moment. Many people don’t see tea as something potentially modern, beautiful and relevant to our present moment. We still bump against outdated beliefs and behaviors about tea. For instance, that you drink it when you’re sick, or instead of coffee or alcohol, that it’s weak in caffeine and flavor. But as we’ve grown over the last two years, we’re already seeing the tide turn in our favor.
Anything else you’d like to share with our Craftly community?
We hope that when you taste August it’s like tasting tea for the first time.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF YOUR August uncommon tea?
About the Author
Stepfanie is fond of inspirational stories from ordinary yet intriguing humans. She's curious about the people around her. You can find her retreating in the quiet outdoors or experimenting with DIY crafts or trying not to make a fool out of herself on insta stories. She is the Content & Community Manager at Craftly.