Why sell tea online

Did you know that next to water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world? It’s even more popular than coffee! In fact, a recent study found that almost 80% of all U.S. households consume tea - and this massive market is only going to get bigger. The wholesale tea industry grew from $2 billion in 1990 to more than $10 billion in 2014 and The Beverage Market Association expects it to continue to grow, with a compound annual growth rate of as much as 6% by 2020. The industry encompasses both ready-to-drink and bagged teas. In both cases, new flavors can prove to be a success which results in diverse product lines.

Finding your niche

With so many niches available in the tea market, it’s no wonder that so many people have been able to find success. For example, you can sell flavored teas, organic teas, iced teas or you can get into the weight loss and detox niche by selling herbal teas.

Teas used as sleep aids are also very popular, as are teas with an extra boost of caffeine for studying or working late. Within those niches, you have the option to sell loose leaf tea, ready-to-drink tea, or tea bags. You can also sell tea accessories like teapots, tea press, mugs, kettles and more.

Finding a Private-Label Dropshipper for Tea

Creating your own tea can be tricky. Fortunately, you can partner with a tea dropshipper, allowing you to pursue this popular niche. First, you’ll want to look for tea manufacturers who offer private-labelling. You’ll need to contact the supplier to determine the requirements, any associated costs and details regarding packaging, terms of service, and other related information.

You can also use a white-label provider like Tea Temptations. White label providers allow you to buy tea at wholesale prices while putting your own company’s label on the tin or package. You can even ask them to put a unique UPC code on the packaging if you plan on selling via Amazon or other retailers.

If you’re interested in the tea niche but prefer to start-off with something low-risk, you can choose to sell tea accessories via AliExpress. Using the Oberlo App, you can search for AliExpress products tea drinkers would benefit from. As your tea accessory business grows, you may also choose to reinvest your profits into creating your own tea-line.

Business Model

If you use a provider similar to Tea Temptations, you’ll be required to pay a minimum of $4.50 per 3-ounce stand-up pouch and $5 for a 4-ounce tin. To ensure you earn a profit, you’ll need to charge at least $13.50 per 3-ounce pouch. To build a sustainable business, it’s recommended that you also sell tea accessories such as tea pots, infusers and other related products which have higher margins. You can also offer the accessories as an upsell to your tea or vice versa.

Starting a tea business on a budget

You can get started investing in your tea business for as little as $100. Tea wholesalers such as the Metropolitan Tea Company allow you to buy tea in bulk in quantities as low as 250g - starting at $9 per bag. You can also request samples from them if you’d like to try the tea out yourself beforehand.

They have everything from straight teas (non-blended, one tea only) to robust blends featuring herbal tea infusions. Using their ingredients, you can private-label them yourself and even make your own unique blends.

Metro tea is a one-stop shop for ingredients, packaging, tins and accessories. You’ll be able to purchase blank packaging from them and print your own labels using an online service like Sticker Mule or print at home using some Avery labels.

Certified tea-expert Sheena Brady - owner and operator of Tease Tea - started her company 3 years ago on a shoestring budget using this approach.

Tease now works with tea gardens directly and boasts over 25 unique and top-selling blends that are both sold through their pop-up storefront in New York City and shipped to online customers around the globe. In addition, from it’s humble beginnings using tea suppliers like Metro, Tease has grown to be the exclusive tea supplier for a number of luxury hotels and restaurants all over the world.

Becoming an expert in what you sell

If you’re the ambitious, independent type - self-teaching could be the way to go. However, a number of certifications for tea exist as well to help give your brand a degree of authenticity. The Tea and Herbal Association of Canada - for example - offers paper certification in various areas of the world of tea.

Becoming a tea expert will give your brand a unique story and build credibility with your audience. Certification can show your customers that you’ve taken the time to truly become an expert in the product you sell and are passionate about what you’re doing.

Getting your first sale

Much like becoming a tea expert - marketing your products online is something that can either be entirely self-taught or done through any number of online marketing courses. Sheena Brady’s advice is to push content early on that doesn’t make any effort to sell your product. This helps build your audience and credibility in your expert status rather than your products. Visitors will recognize and trust in your brand early on - so that when you do start selling, they’ll choose to purchase from you over your competitors.

Examples of some great blog content that you may choose to push can include:

  • How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea
  • 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Green Tea
  • 10 Reasons Tea Will Change Your Life

Creating this type of compelling content gives you an opportunity to engage with local media outlets and collaborate with other bloggers to get your brand exposed and talked about online. This tactic landed Brady from Tease Tea on local television, national television, radio, and countless blogs features.

She says there’s a number of things she wishes she’d known when she started out: “Aside from creating a product, there are so many moving parts when it comes to starting a business. Shipping was a hard lesson for me and the costs nearly put me out of business twice.”

Brady suggests a number marketing strategies - you can create bundles, higher-priced tea kits, and free shipping offers for orders over a certain amount to offset the cost of shipping through increasing the average order value. Take time to find competitive rates and a solution that is appealing to your customers while still making your product profitable.

Dropshipping tips

If you decide to dropship through AliExpress, here are a few tips to set yourself up for success.

Free shipping can be exceptionally slow on AliExpress, and the express options are often prohibitively expensive. Try to find sellers that offer epacket shipping; it's an affordable alternative that allows trackable and quick shipping from China to most developed countries including USA, Canada, and some of the United Kingdom.
AliExpress can sometimes seem overwhelming because there are so many products. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to product selection, sort your search results by “Most Ordered”. This will put the best sellers at the top of the list and give you a general idea of what’s selling and what’s popular.
To get a better idea of what the cases look like in real life, check out the Reviews tab for product listings and view “Reviews with Photos.” Be sure to read the reviews as well, to see what others are saying about the product. Also, you’ll want to check out the “Transactions” tab within the product listing on AliExpress. If you see several purchases from one person, it’s likely they’re dropshipping the item. This tells you it’s likely a good item to sell.
Even though you might be paying next to nothing on AliExpress, don't under-price your products. You’ll want to leave enough margin for marketing, so try to sell products for three or four times your cost.
Try bundling your items into themed sets, or offering complementary products. Check out what the competition is selling to get a better idea of what product categories might be particularly relevant to your audience.
Platforms like Facebook allow you to target very specific attributes or behaviours. For example, if you use Facebook ads to drive traffic to a cell phone store, you can target iPhone 6 users for iPhone 6 phone cases and target LG V10 phone users for LG V10 phone cases. These device-specific options can be found in the ‘Behaviour Targeting’ section of your Facebook ad manager. Hyper-targeting can be applied to a wide range of behaviors and demographics.

Start your own tea brand today!

With tea being the most popular beverage in the world and the seemingly endless possibilities for expansion into specific niches - there’s never been an easier time to start your own tea business! Download our Starter Kit and use our stock-images for FREE and start your own online store today!