When most people think of tea, they think of old ladies, tea parties or England. As for senior Falls School of Business student Chris Bourgea, creating his own tea franchise comes to his mind, with a passion to break the Americanized perception of tea. After conducting a lot of research he started his own tea company called BourgeaTEA.
“I first wanted to franchise someone else's tea,” said Bourgea. “I couldn't find any tea to franchise, so I started my own.” He buys loose leaf teas from companies that get their tea from places like South Africa. He makes his own flavors by blending other teas and herbs together to get the taste he wants. This involves trial and error to find just the right taste. “I see what other companies are doing with their teas and get ideas from them, along with knowing what people like,” said Bourgea.
Two popular flavors are Kyoto cherry blossom, which is a Japanese green tea, and Feliz Cumplianaos, which tastes just like a birthday cake, according to Bourgea. It consists of vanilla caramel black tea blended together with rainbow colored sprinkles. He created a Chai called Lacari Chai. It has different chais and tea flavors in it.
Recently, Bourgea developed ChariTea, which is a tea used to partner with non-profit charitable organizations. All of the profits from the tea go toward that organization.
His recent tea is created only for depression. This was inspired by the non-profit organization, To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA). TWLOHA is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery. “The organization targets high school and college students, which is the market I'm going after as well,” said Bourgea.
To help reach his target market, Bourgea is launching his own website that will promote his three ChariTeas along with his 16 BourgeaTEAs. His website www.bourgeatea.com, will include a video blog and Christian theme. Customers will be able to order his teas online. Each tea bag and logo will have a Bible verse written on it, too.
Bourgea is from Carmel, Ind., majoring in entrepreneurship with a minor in management. He chose AU because he wanted to go to Christian college. After getting saved his senior year in high school, he wanted to be around more people that were saved. He appreciates his professors who help him with his tea and giving him ideas. “I don't think I would get that at bigger school,” he said.
In May, Bourgea and 2010 FSB graduate Jeff Giesler, placed second in the sixth annual Taylor University Business Plan Competition held May 13 at Taylor University for BourgeaTEA. In addition to the $3,000 second-place prize, they also won another $1,000 for having the top undergraduate entry in a competition open to all members of the community.
Bourgea, who is the youngest certified tea master in the United States, began working on the business plan for BourgeaTEA nearly a year ago while taking an entrepreneurship class co-taught by Greg Heberling and Emmett Dulaney. He continued refining the plan this year and brought in Giesler to help polish it. "We worked hard to learn how to write a solid business plan," Giesler added, "and it’s good to know that we are able to do so."
Bourgea is in the process of working with five other cafes around the area to sell his product. Anderson University’s cafe, Mocha Joe's, is currently selling BourgeaTEA. East Side Church of God is advertising BourgeaTEA in the church bulletin and has it on display.
Bourgea has been in the tea business for two years and is unsure of what the future with his business will bring. “As of now it's not profitable, I will see where I am in a year [financially] after my website is launched,” he said.
“Running my own business is a lot more work than I thought,” he said. “But I'm passionate about the tea.”
- Kate McCollum is a 2010 Anderson University graduate. McCollum majored in communication arts and was an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.