Brewing Up A New Line Of Teas

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - August 03, 2005
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Owner Byron Goo and production assistant Jo Ann
Henderson tout the body wise and earth friendly
benefits of sipping a cup of organic Hawaiian
Natural Tea

Byron and Satomi Goo just plucked a new type of tea leaf from their 10-year-old tea garden.

Known for their work as the Tea Chest, the Goos have launched their third line of teas called Hawaiian Natural Tea. The organic tea bags come in mango peach, passionfruit orange and pineapple strawberry. “It’s been a personal journey in terms of creating a better product,” says company president Byron Goo, who hopes the teas will be distributed in Mainland stores soon. “One reason people are turning to teas is the health benefit.”

The Tea Chest is their trade name and also the name of their first line of loose tea, sold in pouches for iced tea. Their second line, Island Essence Tea Collection, features loose tea in tins, best served hot. Stores selling the Hawaiian Natural Teas individually and in three-packs include Longs, Daiei, Shirokiya and K-mart.

Goo notes that statistics show eight out of 10 Americans believe eating organic is better, and that three out of 10 incorporate it into their lifestyle. He’s found a way to make his organic tea taste good and still be affordable. Goo’s mission to be organic is evident even in the 100 percent biodegradable packaging that is used. In fact, there isn’t a string, staple or tag on the tea — this avoids added bulk waste to the environment.

“Our tea drinkers will get something with higher anti-oxidants, lower caffeine, and by drinking our organically cultivated tea — it’s body wise, and earth friendly.”

Goo could say it was the love he felt on his honeymoon in London when he was having afternoon tea with his wife in 1993 that his career started to brew.

Two years later, the Moiliili residents opened shop as a catalogue retailer in 1995. When that didn’t work out as planned, they turned to manufacturing their own teas.

“We had to look for what kind of tea people were drinking,” he recalls about how he landed on flavored iced tea with a local touch. The Tea Chest brand’s most popular flavors are mango, pineapple and passion fruit.

In spring 2001, The Tea Chest introduced the tea bar concept in a retail space on the ground floor of Pioneer Plaza. The plantation iced tea and the flavored iced tea were crowd pleasers. Also big sellers were the hot oolong, green and Earl Grey teas. After nearly two years at that location, the ownership of the building changed and the Goos decided to close that store and focus on manufacturing again.

The couple oversees three employees in a 2,000 -square-foot Sand Island warehouse. He handles marketing, research and development; she serve as sales manager. On working with his wife, Goo notes, “I believe the husband-and-wife team is the backbone of small business; it can work.”

Goo says one of the challenges of their business is to be entrepreneurial and original.

“We couldn’t go out and copy people; there weren’t many people doing what we were doing,” explains Goo. “We have been fortunate. We’ve had some strong mentors to teach us and to guide us.”

With 10 years of business under his belt, Goo says one of the many important lessons he’s learned is to listen more and speak less.

“Listen or ask questions,” he advises. “Find out what they’re looking for, then maybe there’s something you can do to help them. If you’re talking more, then that’s like going into a store where the salesperson tries to sell you something you don’t want.”

Goo says he wants their tea to be the Stash of Hawaii.

“I want people to taste it and say ‘It’s good; I want to buy it again.’”

For more information, call 591- 9400, or log onto and

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