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Meet Gina Zupsich and Aaron Shinn of August Uncommon Tea

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gina Zupsich and Aaron Shinn.

Gina and Aaron, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Aaron and I love adventure. We are constantly in search of new experiences, and a big part of why we travel is to eat and drink things we can’t find back home. As a married couple, we dreamed of having a business together, and we knew it had to be something in food and beverage.

In our previous careers, we were often overseas for work, and we discovered really excellent tea, and when we got home, we tried to find something comparable to the quality and beauty of tea in Japan and France. The tea that we found was pretty disappointing. It was so weird to see how much better coffee, cocktails, beer, juice, and even water had become when tea was so boring. Tea is where coffee was in the 80s – unloved and overlooked.

Tea has so much potential, so many different flavors, it blew our minds that nobody was paying much attention to it. We saw a huge opportunity to make tea as exciting and modern as all of the other things we drink today.

So we set about brainstorming ways to upgrade tea in America. We wanted it to transcend health and wellness, as well as cultural traditions that, while beautiful and rich, don’t fit into our lifestyle. We built the blueprint for August on the foundation of bold, unique flavor, the best ingredients, and being rooted in contemporary culture.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Oh hell no. It has not been a smooth road.

One thing we’ve never doubted is the quality of our product. From the day we launched, people have told us “wow, I never knew tea could taste like this!” Our tea really shocks and delights people. So in a way, making amazing tea was easy for us from the beginning.

The hard parts are many. We’re always growing. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but because we’re impatient it’s never fast enough or big enough for us. We realize now that what we’re doing is pretty radical, and being a pioneering brand is a double-edged sword. It’s great that we’re doing something fresh and unexpected, but that also means that we need to do a lot outreach and a lot of teaching to show people how amazing tea can be.

We’re constantly working to make August better and we’ve had to pivot many times. It’s exhausting, but hey, that’s entrepreneurship.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
What sets August apart is ingredients. Anyone can put the same old tea dust in a fancy new package. Our tea is great because we use extraordinary ingredients from the tea itself to dried herbs and fruit, sometimes things like barley, or caramel that usually don’t find their way into tea. We work hard to create a flavor that’s exciting, intense, and unusual. We hope our tea stops people in their tracks and makes them feel something wonderful.

What were you like growing up?
Gina: As a child, I was as curious as they come: eager to meet new people, try new things, learn anything and everything. My family was in the army and we moved around every year until I was a teenager. I have more exposure to change and novelty than many people. I like to observe and engage in my world as it moves.

I think that what might be considered a lack of stability has nurtured some very positive qualities and made my senses razor-sharp. I’ve always had a passion for intense scents and tastes, and I paid attention to the little things in my environment from the way insects move to differences in regional accents, to the feel and smell of different fabrics.

These sensory memories give my history so much depth and texture. Being in a new place fires me up and sharpens my focus, it can be overwhelming but in a good way.

Pricing:

  • 50g bag: $9.99
  • 100g tin: $19.99

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jay Keitel

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