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Meet Steve Schwartz of Art of Tea

Today we’d like to introduce you to Steve Schwartz.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
When I was 19, my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I had just started school on a full scholarship but moved back home to Santa Monica to take care of her for the ten months before she passed. The whole time she was battling the disease, we were going from doctor to doctor to help heal her, and when she passed, I had this awakening. If cancer had been around for thousands of years, and Western medicine was only in practice for the past hundred years or so, what other options were out there? I became fascinated with the principal of Eastern and Preventative medicine as an alternative to the Western medicine that failed to save my mom and enrolled in the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico. It was during this time that my passion for the alchemy of blending and combining herbs and botanicals to create unique wellness profiles that they wouldn’t have on their own began to unfold.

I saved up so I could travel the world to see firsthand how these herbs were grown – I met with farmers in Asia, India, Africa, and the Middle East, searching for the best possible teas and botanicals available. At the time, I had no plans to turn this curiosity into a tea business, but after settling back in Los Angeles, I began applying the knowledge and experimenting with blending different teas and botanicals in my living room.

Then, I caught the attention of a few local chefs, including Wolfgang Puck, then a hotel, and it just continued escalating from there. I had boxes piled up in my living room and was hand-delivering teas to restaurants, and it got to a point where it became clear that this was the path I wanted to pursue. I founded Art of Tea in 2004 and haven’t looked back.

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?
It was challenging for me to find the right entrepreneurs to coach me on how to go about starting a business. There weren’t a lot of people to lean on for support, so I basically turned my car into a university – I started listening to CD’s on marketing, business strategy, management, etc., and saturated myself in that world to build the confidence to start Art of Tea.

With that in mind, I now strive to be a coach in my leadership role. I look for the best potential candidates and talent possible and help to coach and mentor them to be the best they can be.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Art of Tea – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Art of Tea is a tea importer and wholesaler based in Los Angeles, California. We hand blend and custom craft the world’s finest organic teas and botanicals. Our teas are carefully selected directly from growers, each one offering a unique story. We craft loose leaf tea, iced tea and hot sachets for hospitality clients around the world from Wolfgang Puck to Peninsula Hotel in Tokyo Japan.

Most proud of our Manifesto and core values at Art of Tea. These have been our foundational building blocks as we look to hire and work with new vendors, farmers, and new customers. Before we set our goals for the year we always review our core values and make sure they’re still in-line with our direction.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We exist to create a delicious experience. We want to positively impact as many lives as we can through tea. By vertically integration we hope to continue to impact the lives of farmers and our local community by sourcing the top 2% of teas and sharing it in this world.

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Art of Tea

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