Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fox Business interview

This was a fun interview!!!

Tea Companies Have a Party of Their Own Amid Protests

Wednesday's Anti-Tax Tea Parties brought groups of protesters from Atlanta to Boston, San Antonio to Sacramento, Calif., together to demonstrate against government spending. Styled as a modern-day Boston Tea Parties, the protests used tea as an integral -- though symbolic -- part of the occasion.

Though no one was pouring tea into the surrounding bodies of water, the demonstrations still made a splash among many tea makers who seemed pleased with the publicity.

Harney and Sons, a high-end tea maker based in Millerton, N.Y., carries many types of teas similar to those thrown into the Boston harbor during the original protest more than 230 years ago.

“Our teas are like the teas they threw in, because a lot of them come from China and are black teas,” said Mike Harney, owner and vice president of Harney and Sons Tea.

Harney added that if the protesters were going for authenticity, Harney and Sons would be a good choice.

As a matter of fact, “I’d like to encourage them to toss the tea in the rivers,” he said.

If the protesters were to throw the tea into the rivers, they would have to go out and purchase more tea to drink, Harney said.

“It’ll be like our own little stimulus package here. It might even put a smile on my face while I’m paying taxes today,” he said. Harney said he and his company had not been contacted to provide tea for the protests, but would have gladly done so if asked.

Another tea company that was excited to hear of a nationwide tea party was Tetley. Jack Kearney, Tetley vice president of sales for the Northeastern U.S., said that tea was the perfect recession-friendly drink because it’s cheap.

Kearney said he had not been contacted by anyone from the Anti-Tax Tea Party movement to provide tea, but that the company could still see a benefit to the bottom line following the events.

“It might inspire more people to drink tea, and if someone mentions the Tetley name, it can have kind of a halo effect and reach more people than we would expect,” said Kearney.

Kearney said he was pleased the protests had happened, and had suspected that a demonstration was inevitable given the state of government spending.

“I knew that eventually some form of protest would manifest itself, and I’m more than happy it was tea,” said Kearney.

At Celestial Seasonings based in Boulder, Colo., General Manager Peter Burns said that any publicity that would come out of the tea parties would be good for the company, but probably wouldn’t be so tremendous as to make the quarter’s earnings.

“I’m not sure how you get to be the tea of choice at a tea party protest, but if we’re chosen for some of the events out there, we are more than happy to oblige,” said Burns.

Burns said that Celestial Seasonings would be a good choice for the protests because of its eco-friendly packaging without string tags, staples, and tea bag over wrap -- which eliminates 3.5 million pounds of landfill waste each year.

“If you’re going to pour a bunch of tea into the harbor, it should be ours,” he said.

Wednesday’s tea parties were held in locations across the country, including Kentucky, South Carolina and New York.

“Tea just has universal appeal,” said Mike Harney of Harney and Sons. “Tea is a long run play.”

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