Hawaii’s Subscription Startup Tealet is Connecting Growers with Sippers

February 18, 2014

1:00 pm

You can find a subscription for just about anything these days, from razors and underwear to coffee and dog treats. And, if you happen to be a tea lover who has felt left out of the action so far, Hawaii-based Tealet can bring leaf-to-cup tea right to your doorstep.

The Hawaii-based startup does more than just deliver; it takes a sampling approach to providing customers with products they’ll love. Subscribers receive bi-monthly tea samples and can order larger quantities of the teas they like directly from Tealet.

And, directly from Tealet really means directly from growers. The company wants to tell the stories of the people who grow your tea leaves, providing that increasingly elusive connection between producer and consumer that many of us crave in the food and beverage industry.

Tealet grower Plucky Tea's farm in Sri Lanka


Hawaii was the perfect place for Tealet to be born since it is the U.S.’s largest domestic producer of tea. Founders Elyse Petersen and Jane Gonsowski co-authored a research study at the University of Hawaii, and learned about the opportunity for their state’s tea industry during the process. They developed a few business models based upon their idea, and they pitched at Startup Weekend Honolulu in April, 2012.

Since then, Petersen and Gonsowski have been busy creating their marketplace and subscription service, and they participated in 500 Startups, too. Check out Tealet for yourself, and sample some of the world’s best teas.

Tealet participated in our Tech Cocktail Week event in Las Vegas.

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Meg Rayford is a communications consultant based in Northern Virginia. She previously spent two years as the Director of Public Relations for a nonprofit startup, where she learned a lot about providing clean water for impoverished countries, even within the confines of a bootstrapped startup. She is the editor of Tech Cocktail, and she develops media strategies for companies in Washington, DC and Virginia. You can read her most recent work in the marketing chapter of the upcoming book, "Social Innovation and Impact in Nonprofit Leadership," which will be published in Spring 2014 by Springer Publishing. Follow her @megkrayford.

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