CATSPRING SXSW SPOTLIGHT: ODD DUCK

The team over at Odd Duck have dreamed up some delicious concoctions with CatSpring Yaupon. As their menu changes seasonally, so do their craft cocktails & thirst for creative new ways to use everyone’s favorite native caffeinated leaf. Recently they’ve whipped up a homemade kombucha that would make any fermentation fan’s heart flutter.

Another favorite of the CatSpring team is their version of a frozen Long Island Iced Tea. And with the current 100+ weather in Austin - we'll take two please!

The best pairing though, in our humble opinions, is the Odd Duck burger, plus good ol’ Austin sunshine and a tall glass of CatSpring Iced Yaupon - it just doesn't get much better. Every ingredient at this Austin establishment is carefully curated & locally sourced; needless to say, we're honored to be on the menu!


A TEA TITAN’S JOURNEY: 7 KEYS TO SUCCESS

Left to right: Michael Harney, Emeric Harney, Alexander Harney, and Paul Harney  Photo   compliments of Harney & Sons

Left to right: Michael Harney, Emeric Harney, Alexander Harney, and Paul Harney Photo compliments of Harney & Sons

Harney & Sons, the titan of tea, was one of the earliest supporters of CatSpring Yaupon. In the early days, Paul Harney toured our first facility in CatSpring, TX. Our yaupon is now served in their SoHo tea shop, and featured in the “American Buzz” ready-to-drink line.

In the ultimate Microsoft- and Amazon-style start-up story, Harney & Sons originated in John Harney’s basement in 1983. Today, it has grown into a global tea distribution company with over 200 employees and a 90,000 square foot warehouse in Millerton, New York.  We sat down with John’s grandson, Emeric, who is just as committed to carrying on the family vision of making tea an everyday luxury. Here’s what he had to say about succeeding in business, without sacrificing your core values:

Harney & Sons’  Royal Wedding Tea  blend.  Photo compliments of Harney & Sons

Harney & Sons’ Royal Wedding Tea blend. Photo compliments of Harney & Sons

1. FIND YOUR PASSION

I’m a 3rd generation member of the family, and worked in the company as young as 3 years of age, peeling labels off rolls and handing them off to be applied. As a teenager, I worked weekends in our retail shop and developed my first handful of blends before finishing high school. My college years led me on a whirlwind of locales and universities but I eventually ended up traveling with my father Michael Harney to do photography on one of his sourcing trips. That’s when I fell in love with tea as an adult, in a way that was my own and not from my upbringing. I was able to experience the passion tea-makers had for tea and the irreplaceable connection of sharing a cup of tea with another human. I began working with the company again in a long-term capacity, focusing on opening our store in nearby New York City. A few years later, I started to handle our packaging design, and now today I focus on our e-commerce and marketing.

2. INNOVATE AND STAY FRESH

My grandfather, John Harney, was on a mission to make tea an everyday luxury. When he started Harney & Sons in 1983, he only offered 6 teas. My dad, who joined the company in 1988, had a flair for exquisite flavors and beverages (he had worked in Cognac, France and in a wine cave in Paris, France). He was the first to really seek out new blends and teas from the source. I follow in my father’s footsteps, with a lot less experience but perhaps even more flair, in sourcing teas from regions not always known for the best quality, and for flavors that will whet the appetites of our customers. The biggest lesson I think I’ve learned from the many different blends we offer is: it’s impossible to safely discontinue a blend! Each one has it’s dedicated fan base, which is great. There’s a cup of tea for just about everyone.

Harney & Sons’  Organic English Breakfast  blend.  Photo compliments of Harney & Sons

Harney & Sons’ Organic English Breakfast blend. Photo compliments of Harney & Sons

3. REMAIN TRUE TO YOUR BRAND

One of the biggest challenges we’ve encountered over the years is the competing marketspace of tea. Each year new tea companies join the space. Some stay and some burn out quick. We’ve been in business for 35+ years because of our tradition to tea and family, the desire to remain close to our customers, and the desire to provide them great quality and affordable tea while educating them. The other challenge is the dilution of our brand. The way the world of commerce has developed, we’ve joined in partnerships that made our brand more exposed to the masses. For some companies, this can result in a reduction of quality or closeness to customers, but I’m glad to say that’s not the case for us. There are so many ways to expand our brand while remaining true to it. We’ve seen a great response to things like nitro tea, cooking with tea and even infusing cocktails with tea.

4. DON’T GO IT ALONE

We’ve made some pivotal partnerships with companies that have expanded our exposure to folks all over the country, and even the world. A couple of these partnerships exist with companies like Barnes & Nobles and Amazon. However, I think we’ve made great strides in our ways of getting in front of consumers, through our website and social channels. The only way that our company has really changed to make accommodations for this type of growth is that we’re certainly making a lot more tea than we were in the ’80s. Back then, we were blending 25 to 50 pounds of tea at a time in my grandfather's basement. These days we’re blending upwards of 800 pounds at a time in our 90,000 square foot factory. All the while, our commitment to quality tea at an affordable price stays the same.

Harney & Sons employees brewing up new batches of tea.  Photo compliments of Harney & Sons

Harney & Sons employees brewing up new batches of tea. Photo compliments of Harney & Sons

5. CULTIVATE PURPOSE

We’re members of 1% for the Planet, an organization we’ve worked with since 2006. Joining 1% for the Planet means we can donate one percent of our total sales to the environmental organizations of our choice. We enjoy this because we can focus on social initiatives close to us (like the Appalachian Trail) as well as ones across the world (Rainforest Trust). In addition, we continue to challenge the manufacturers of our products and packaging to innovate and put stewardship at the forefront. We recently worked with a company, TC Transcontinental to create one of the very first to market recyclable, airtight, opaque ziplock bags for use when we sell teas by the ounce. In addition, we are continually on the search for biodegradable sachets and packaging to reduce our impact on the environment. Supporting our local community, parks and other services is an easy choice because it impacts the lives of our families and our employees. When we bring up the world around us, it has a broadening impact of inspiring others to do the same.

6. IT TAKES A VILLAGE

My leadership style is molded a lot after the ways in which I’ve observed my family. My dad taught me to be a team player, and that a leader should be just as capable of doing everything that he asks of other people to do for him. I lead by example and am a problem solver. While it’s important to understand mistakes so that we can grow and hopefully not repeat them, there is no reason to harp on them or focus on them at great length. I hope to inspire those around me to help run our company as if they were family members themselves, and to create long lasting relationships with our vendors and customers and coworkers.

Harney & Sons’ Emeric Harney with CatSpring Yaupon co-founder, Abianne Falla.  Photo compliments of Harney & Sons

Harney & Sons’ Emeric Harney with CatSpring Yaupon co-founder, Abianne Falla. Photo compliments of Harney & Sons

7. BRING OTHERS ALONG ON THE ADVENTURE

I’m most excited about my trip to Japan with my husband, Robert, in the spring. We're hosting a group of 14 individuals on an 11 day guided tea, food, and culture tour throughout a number of cities in Japan with the travel company Onward Travel Co. In addition to that, we will see our Japanese distributor of our teas there, make some appearances, and meet with customers, as well as taste teas freshly made from our Japanese tea manufacturers. On our return, we’ll stop to visit family outside of Los Angeles, and I’ll be taking part in my first west coast obstacle course race. There are many great things to come, and the horizons of tea keep expanding!

What is Domestic Sourcing and Why Does it Matter?

Domestic Sourcing

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When producers of your favorite ready to drink teas and coffee drinks purchase their ingredients, they are limited to relying upon a series of certifications that indicate whether the ingredient was produced in an environmental or sustainable manner or adhere to responsible labor practices. This is a good system, but these businesses are often far removed from the supply chain that they are using and vetting. In many cases, they have nothing but a circular graphic to tell the story of the people, plants and processes that go into growing and harvesting the ingredients. One way to gain deeper insight and greater access to the ingredient supply chain is to source domestically. In fact, there are several benefits to sourcing domestically that go beyond fossil fuel reduction and transparency. Here is what we have learned from our work sustainably wild harvesting yaupon from the farms of central Texas.

Sourcing from domestic suppliers also has an impact on:

Job creation: Agriculture and production have become increasingly outsourced, off-shored and automated. Growing businesses that supply a domestic product increases manufacturing and processing jobs in local communities.

Labor rights: Domestic producers are required to legally employ with a minimum wage. International producers are not always held to a wage standard or it is difficult to enforce.

Transparency: In the US, suppliers must comply with Good Manufacturing Practices and must be licensed by the FDA. While the Food Safety Modernization Act has allowed great strides in terms of improving international standards, the participation in this program is currently voluntary.

Environmental Sustainability: Beyond the reduction of fuel used in shipping and transporting, domestic manufacturers are often held to higher standards than developing countries for pollution. Also, there is commonly less packaging used when ingredients are distributed domestically.

Personal connection with suppliers: Quality control is a more direct and transparent process when purchasers are able to visit and develop a personal relationship with suppliers. Developing these relationships also allows a deeper opportunity for feedback, collaboration and community development.

Improved inventory carrying costs: When sourcing from domestic producers there is accessibility to order more frequently and in smaller batches, thus reducing inventory carrying costs.

Tax and tariff burden reduction: When purchasing domestically there is less fee complexity and fewer taxes.


Green Yaupon: A Labor of Love

It's that time again! Our founder, Abianne, shares a video about our Green Yaupon. By the time the Green Yaupon reaches your cup, it is a true labor of love.  Enjoy!


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Interested in trying our Green Tea Yaupon? Purchase some here & be sure to let us know your thoughts!

Cardamon Rose Tea Latte Recipe

We love sharing our favorite yaupon recipes with our customers to add to their wellness routine. This month's recipe was inspired by all things cozy & comforting for fall. Check out our Cardamon rose tea latte recipe & let us know your thoughts! 

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RECIPE:

  • 1 tsp cardamon pods lightly crushed

  • 2 tablespoons dried rose petals

  • 2 teaspoons Marfa CatSpring Yaupon

  • 2 cups

  • Splash of Nut Milk

  • instruction: steep loose tea with cardamon pods & rose petals for at least 10 minutes, this will infuse your tea with vibrant flavor. pour through a tea strainer (we love this one in our shop!). add a splash of warm nut milk, sprinkle of ground cardamon & rose petals for garnish. take a deep inhale, sip & relax.

 

 

Interested in trying this recipe for yourself? 

4 Facts You Never Knew About Yaupon

4 Facts You Never Knew About Yaupon, the Native Plant Growing in Our Backyard.

Yaupon is a fascinating plant and as a country, we know relatively little about this hearty, indigenous wonder. One of the most exciting parts of our job is getting to share all of the interesting information we uncover about Yaupon with our growing audience! Check out the information below and let us know what questions you have regarding the plant, and we will do our best to keep you informed. 

  1. Yaupon has gone by many names - yaupon, yaupon holly, black drink, American tea plant, appalachine, Carolina tea, cassina, Christmas-berry tree, coon berry, and South-Sea tea.

  2. Yaupon is an Ilex – just like it’s better-known South American cousin plants yerba mate (ilex paraguaysis) & Guayusa (ilex guayusa). Available records indicate that 25 species of ilex are used for tea by indigenous groups in South America, North America, and the Sino-Tibetan mountainous area. The caffeine content of these three of the species (vomitoria, paraguariensis, and guayusa) have been confirmed.

  3. The habitat for yaupon holly is varied and includes maritime forests, dunes, forest edges, pine flatwoods, and wet swamps. Yaupon is a large shrub that forms thickets from horizontal roots or rhizomes that spread. In our experience, we can see the desperation in which yaupon grows towards the sun so whether it’s out or up, these hearty plants will find as much sunlight as they can.

  4. As you can see in the map below, Yaupon grows along the gulf coast and up the east coast of the US. Where we are in Texas, the Yaupon grows under pine and live oak trees in clay and sand. We’ll see it along fence lines and it grows through abandoned buildings, anywhere wild or left to return wild.