David Duckler’s entrée into the tea world happened walking along a road one day, long before he envisioned starting the Minneapolis-based company, Verdant Tea.
As a student on studying ancient Chinese to translate Chinese philosophy, he took the same road to class every day, where a tea market caught his attention. Inside, he found a different China than seen everywhere else. He says, “Tea culture was only part of Chinese culture that preserved lot of old ideas about hospitality and graciousness and dignity.”
With his appetite whetted for tea, he returned on a Fulbright scholarship to study tea. He learned from a Chinese tea master the magic and mystery of tea. David says he learned the making of tea, its origins, the folklore, and the Chinese tea ceremony.
He learned how that the taste of tea from a single family-owned tea farm could vary so much. He says, “I would go in tea tasting contests. One contest had 50 teas from the same farm where the teas were picked on different days. I had to taste them then put them in the order they were picked.”
For Verdant Tea, David says, “I do not work with any factories, exporters or brokers. I work with individual farmers. We have stories, karaoke, dinner; they’re really good friends of mine. All their farms are 5-15 acres, passed on in families for generations.”
Verdant Tea Wholesale
For his wholesale business, he supplies tea shops, restaurants, and coffee shops with traditional Chinese teas and custom blends with organic herbs and spices.
Verdant Tea Retail
Since his tea was often rated the best in America, he started an online store due to popular demand. He says, “I started my online store in April when the 2011 spring teas were ready. They are vacuum-packed and rush-shipped all over the world.”
His upscale teas are aimed at a niche market, and he wants to make it more mainstream. He says, “It’s an uphill climb to educate people. Education is a huge component. Since I was taught Chinese tea philosophy, I have a 100% conversion rate when I sit down with people. People can be intimidated by top end teas. I give them tea brewed Chinese style, and teach them how to make it at home. Once they try them, I make them 10 green teas from same farm, and they think there is no way they can tell the difference. After 10 minutes, they are talking like tea aficionados.”
David hosts free tea tastings at Infinitea in Uptown.
Learn more and order from Verdant Tea.