The July Tea Box Express box features Oliver Pluff & Co., an interesting company with a fascinating niche: pairing tea with American history. Kyle, the founder of Oliver Pluff, tells us more about his company, including their dedication to historical teas, from sourcing the tea leaves to the unique artwork on their products.
How did Oliver Pluff & Company get started and how long has it been around?
After college I traveled and worked with Samaritan's Purse International Relief for 6 years, which took me to disaster areas in Africa, Latin America, and Turkey. In former British colonies, tea was a big part of the culture and the agriculture. It doesn't take long to take notice of the higher quality tea and coffee that these countries enjoy. After I returned home, I decided to start a business in 2009 as a premium iced tea company. Within the year, we met Colonial Williamsburg Foundation which became our biggest customer, requesting our assistance to create their colonial tea blends. This boost to our sales took us in new directions as a business and we realized that historical teas were being overlooked. We began to create Early American teas and now we sell to around 300 historic sites and museums around the country. The line has grown include new products such as our Colonial Blend Coffee, Cacao Shell Tea, Old English Wassail, and Colonial Remedies. This fall we are launching a few new spice and tea products. The brand continues to grow and evolve.
2. You have a theme of history and American heritage throughout your product line. How did this become such a big part of your brand?
The historical teas are what we are best known for, especially our Bohea. It's a smoky black tea blend from colonial times. There are other colonial teas that we have not yet been able to source, with names such as Congou, Singlo, Twankay, Imperial, Pekoe Skin. I am enjoying the historical research and the culinary adventure to seek these out. We continue to meet more small, passionate historical groups and gourmet stores who are so excited to have a chance to carry our line. Our customers continue to request more from history (last year I learned about sugar cones and nippers). Our vision is to connect people to American heritage through historic beverages. We would like to be the best-known company in America for this small, unique niche.
Source: Oliver Pluff Instagram
3. What is the inspiration behind the unique artwork on your products?
Our tea packaging uses linen labels and stark, two color art, with fonts and art from a different period. We seek to re-create some of the experience from a different era. Our slogan is "A Leaf from America's Tea Heritage". It's been useful to select our art and packaging with this guidance in mind and our customers enjoying the chance to sip and ponder American history as we offer short historical descriptions of the products on each tin.
4. From where do you source your teas?
Whenever possible, we source from the same gardens that supplied the British East India Company. This is primarily China, but also includes India and Sri Lanka. We limit ourselves to around 30 teas to keep our tea as fresh as possible.
5. Which Oliver Pluff tea is your favorite?
For about three years now I have been hooked on the breakfast teas. English Breakfast, then Irish Breakfast. But I was surprised last year by our Colonial Bohea over ice. There's something thrilling about the smoky flavor with light cane sugar as an iced tea. It's been fun to bend tradition by icing down the colonial teas.
Thanks Kyle! You can learn more about Oliver Pluff at oliverpluff.com.