Today we’d like to introduce you to Linda Louie.
Linda, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a child living in Hong Kong, I recall my grandmother making a dark color tea in a large thermos each morning and drinking from it all day long. She called this tea “Po Lei” (Pu-erh in Cantonese). My grandmother drank this tea because it reportedly made her stomach felt more settled. I remembered not liking this tea because it was too similar to the bitter herbal concoction I was forced to drink whenever I became ill. Little did I know that this tea has become coveted by tea connoisseurs in recent decades and that I would have a tea business specializing in it years later.
Actually, my tea business is my second stet. I was a social worker by training and I have a Masters degree in Social Work. I worked for the Los Angeles Superior Court for over two decades and last worked in administration overseeing several clinical units in the court system. Having to handle litigation cases that were very emotionally-charged daily, my job was very taxing. In early 90’s my older sister traveled frequently to China for charity work. She has gifted all sorts of tea from the tea farmers and villagers that she came across, which she brought back and shared with me. I drank tea at the office all day long. It helped me focus and stayed calm. I fell in love with tea and aspired to be a tea purveyor and educator. I retired in 2008, went to Hong Kong to study tea under a renowned tea master and thereafter started Bana Tea Company, an online tea company specializing in Pu-erh tea. Over the years, I have traveled numerous times to Yunnan, China where Pu-eh was born, and to other tea producing regions around the world. I learned about cultivation and processing, tea culture and preparation. I feel blessed to be able to access some of the rarest and exquisite teas in the world. I frequently hold classes and tea demonstrations to educate the public about tea. It has been a very rewarding, interesting, and educational journey.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In my previous job, I didn’t need to know everything to get the job done because my work was supported by various departments. However, being an entrepreneur is very different. My biggest challenge was that I had to learn and attend to every aspect of the business myself. Not only did I have to source and import quality teas, I also needed to quickly learn about e-commerce, online marketing, social media and branding. The learning curve was steep.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Bana Tea Company – what should we know?
Bana Tea Company is a boutique online tea company. My company specializes in Pu-erh tea, which is probably the tea most coveted by tea connoisseurs around the globe. Pu-erh tea is known for its ability to improve with time, much like fine wine. Certain aged Pu-erh has been auctioned for tens of thousands of dollars. Because of the high economic value of many Pu-erh teas, there are many fake products. As a trusted Pu-erh vendor, I must know the history of my teas, the practice of the industry, and be able to serve as a gate keeper to source authentic, high-quality products for my customers.
My goal when I started this business was to bring high quality teas to the tea lovers in the West. I think I am achieving my goal. Being a small online business, I can afford to offer high-quality teas at affordable prices. Most of my customers are return customers to whom I have sold for years. I am proud to have gained their trust, loyalty, and support.
Selling Pu-erh is more than just selling tea because I am also offering my expertise. I believe this is what sets me apart from others tea vendors.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I believe the most important factors that contributed to my success are the good products and my excellent customer service. Because my business is small, I can take the time to personally answer any questions my customers may have. For return customers, I include tea samples that are specific to the customers’ buying habits and taste preferences. I believe the personal touch makes a difference in the customers’ buying experience.
- Bana 7-tea Variety Sampler for $22.00.
- Bulang Raw or Ripe Pu-erh Mini cakes for $14.00.
- Bana Limited Edition Raw Pu-erh tea cake (200g), 2008 vintage for $59.00.
- Address: Bana Tea Company
- Website: www.banateacompany.com
- Phone: 626-968-0788
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bana-Tea-Company-133359593381297/?ref=bookmarks
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/BanaTeaCompany