Are you thinking of turning your tea hobby into a new tea business?

One of my favorite roles in the Specialty Tea Industry has been counseling tea lovers dreaming of launching their own new tea business. I meet them at every festival and am consistently amazed by the creativity of their (YOUR?) ideas to make your own tea business unique. When I was at TeaFest PDX (Portland) in July, there were dozens of people who stopped by my booth to share their ideas. Others would eavesrop and add their ideas; all excited about what a future in Specialty Tea could be for them.

So I’m very happy to be part of this first-ever program designed specifically for those of you who share the dream and want to know where to begin and who can help you.

Are You Imagining A New Tea Business of Your Own?

  • What kind? A retail tea store. An afternoon tearoom? A tea lounge? A booth at local farmers’ markets or outdoor music festivals? A tea room in a B&B? Online? Others?
  • Where do you begin? There are dozens of things you can do before you sign a lease and order inventory to build a strong and successful business.
  • What make you different from other similar tea businesses? How can you use your own passion for tea to design a stand-out tea business and become a respected member of the Specialty Tea business community?
  • What are the questions you don’t even know to ask? And who cares if New Tea Businesses succeed? And why?

More FAQ Below

Tickets Are Now On Sale

EventBrite Ticketing is now open for the Midwest Tea Festival, the New Tea Business Seminar, the Jane Austen special event and others. 

  • Single Day Admission  $20 includes festival vendors and classes, as available.
  • Tea Tasting Lounge      $5.
  • Business Seminar          $199.   Full 2-Day Pass
  • Business Seminar          $129.   Single Day Pass.   (Limited availability)
  • Jane Austen Night         $45

Complete 2-Day New Business Seminar Schedule

Pre-Festival & Pre-Recorded – Available to Attendees Oct. 1st

We’re providing these recorded sessions to help you prepare to get the most out of our weekend together.

  • Origin Stories”; Recorded Stories of Specialty Tea Industry Leaders”  (View YouTube Sample Below)
  • “Vast Variety of Tea Businesses; A Hundred Examples of ways to be a Specialty Tea Professional” 
  • Basics of Crafting A Business Plan” – Resources to Begin Your Plan
  • “A Day in The Life of Tea Farmers” –  A 1-hour video created by Glenburn Tea Estates showing the process from plucking the fresh leaf, through harvest, to finishing fine quality Darjeeling tea. Watching this video in advance will help you get more out of the live session, “Meet the Tea Farmers”.

Saturday October 21       Midwest Tea Festival

8:00 Open Registration – Meet & Greet  –  Tea Tasting 

As we gather, tea wholesalers will supply us with samples to sip and consider which teas are the best fit for your business idea. There will also be the drawing for “Elevator Pitch Lottery” later in the day. (Babette Donaldson & Nicole Burriss) 

8:30    “Hobby to Business” Tim Smith, Owner of The Tea Smith. How do you develop your love of tea from a passionate hobby to a business?  (Tim Smith, The Tea Smith) 

9:45    “Sharing Your Passion For Tea”  Stacie Robertson, owner of The Tea Market.  How do you talk to people who almost nothing about tea to excite and engage them without being a tea snob or overwhelming them.

11:15    “Getting & Keeping Loyal Customers”     Babette Donaldson, publisher of T Ching.   Your customers are the foundation of your tea business. Keeping loyal customers who purchase regularly greatly reduces the workload and expense of acquiring new customers.

12:30 – 3:30 Break for lunch and festival fun 

You’ll have plenty of time to browse the vendor area or to enjoy lunch with some of your new tea-biz acquaintances. But it’s a good time to jot down a few questions that you want to ask during our last Q&A session of the day. 

4:00 – 5:30    Q&A From the Day + Optional Pitch Sessions (By Lottery*). We’ll divide this time between your burning questions and burning desire to share the unique details of your tea business plan. The pitches will be 2-5 minute descriptions of your business. This is one of the most valuable skills you can hone for entrepreneurial success. 

6:00 – 8:00.   Optional Jane Austen Tea (Separate ticket required). Jane Austen themed program. Costumes encouraged. Tea + refreshments included Tea dance lessons Pre-recorded presentation by internationally renowned tea specialist, Jane Pettigrew.

Sunday October 22       Midwest Tea Festival

8:00 – 9:00 Meet & Greet – “Who Are Specialty Tea Influencers” Exercise – Tea Tasting.  As we gather, tea wholesalers will supply us with samples to sip and consider which teas are the best fit for your business idea + Tea Influencers Quiz Game with small prizes. (Babette Donaldson & Nicole Burriss) 

9:00 – 10:00 The 10 Most Important Things You Need To Know Before Opening A Tea Shop” – Sharyn Johnson, owner of Australian Tea Masters.  Sharyn has coached hundreds of beginners in the launch of their shops in more than ten different countries. She continues to follow and support them. In this session she will share her observations from first-hand experience. 

10:00 – 11:00   “Partnership Businesses; Co-Locating With Compatible Businesses” – Alex Jackson, Co-Owner Emilie’s French Tea.  This presentation considers some of the challenges and opportunities for two different businesses to be compatible and even beneficial to each other to share a location and community of loyal customers. 

11:30 – 12:30 “Social Media & Content Creation” – Cody Wade, blogger, “The Oolong Drunk. What makes good content for your social media? Which platforms are the most valuable investments of your time? How can you motivate employees and customers to help your social media plan?

12:30 – 3:00 Break for lunch and festival fun. 

3:00 – 4:00 “Meet The Farmers” Panel –  Akiko Ono, Nishchal Banskota, James Orrock.  Tea farmers from different regions of the world share the challenges of producing Specialty Artisan Teas.

4:00 – 5:00 Final Q&A  –  Optional.  One last opportunity to quiz Tea Pros with your most pressing questions. 


Post-Festival Follow Up Zoom Saturday, Nov 11, 2023


One of the most important tools for starting your new tea business is your own personal story. Everyone with whom you discuss your developing project and then almost every customer will want to know what inspired you. Here is a short sample of the “class” we’re creating for the Midwest Tea Festival’s tea business seminar.

Who is the seminar for?

Our content is being created for tea lovers considering, perhaps planning a new tea business. But we also welcome anyone who has a new-ish business and would like some support and mentoring with their struggles. Our Q&A sessions are an opportunity to ask some of your most challenging questions.   Go To EventBrite Ticket Page

Questions We’ve Been Asked:

  1. Recently purchased an existing tea business but need some help moving forward. Will it be worth it for me to attend the seminar?
  2. If I can only attend one day, which is the best one for me to choose?
  3. If I attend the seminar, will I still have enough time to be part of the festival?
  4. My idea for a tea business is only for online sales. Is there anything for me?

What is your question?

Contact Babette: