I'm Alistair and I started What-Cha with the simple goal of sharing my love of tea with others.
I wanted What-Cha to be different and unique from other tea stores and to serve both the tea producers and consumers.
To that end, I have tried to abide by the following principles:
It is my belief that too many companies rely on a small pool of wholesalers from whom to source their teas from. This is negative for consumers who find a lot of the tea stores selling identical teas to each other and a huge problem for tea producers who are forced to give large discounts to wholesalers due to their negotiating power derived from how much of the tea market they control.
This is why I have chosen to source all my teas direct from the producer where possible and in situations where it is not possible, to source teas from a wholesaler which specialises in a particular region and works closely with the producer they source the teas from.
Supporting Smaller Farmers and Regions
In my experience, tea retailers can be broadly split up into three categories;
Those which source their tea from large wholesalers
Those which specialise in a particular tea region (often the most famous and popular ones) and source their tea direct from local farmers
Large retailers which typically source their teas direct large producers
I wanted What-Cha to fill what I felt was a gap in the market for a retailer which focusses on directly sourcing tea from small producers around the world, with an emphasis on regions which tend to get overlooked as their teas often aren't famous enough to support a retailer which specialises purely in their tea.
Unfortunately it is not always possible to source teas direct from the producer and so in these situations I turn to good wholesalers who specialise in teas from a particular region and work closely with the producers.
Too often do retailers misrepresent the teas they sell, through a myriad of techniques to make them seem more 'rare', 'unique', 'special' or 'high value' than they really are so they can get away with charging the highest possible price.
I want to present all the teas I offer, in the most honest and transparent manner possible, providing all the information I can gather on each tea, including most importantly the teas provenance and how much of the sale price goes directly back to the farmer.
I feel it is very important that a sizeable percentage of the sale goes back to the farmer and that customers should be fully aware of just how much goes back. To date, it has been too easy for companies to promote themselves as 'direct sourcing' their tea and 'supporting' farmers while keeping almost all of the sale price for themselves. To date, I believe What-Cha is the only tea company which states what percentage of each sale of each direct source tea goes directly back to the farmer.
Fair Pricing and Shipping
I believe the primary role of a tea retailer is to minimise the associated costs of getting the tea from the producer to the customer and to that end I have strived to keep non-tea costs down so I can offer tea at a very competitive rate with little to no shipping costs applied to the consumer.