Voices of Tea: Beth Johnston

By Tea Lover

Beth Johnston left her job in healthcare, started Teas Etc in 1998, and never turned back. Teas Etc. is now an established and recognized source for quality teas.

Teas Etc logo
Teas Etc logo

1. We took time to talk at this year’s World Tea Expo, where you delivered a session on organic certification for tea. What information is important for consumers to know when choosing organic teas?

I guess it depends on how concerned they are with whether or not they are actually getting what they pay for when purchasing organic teas. If they want to be certain that they are consuming organics then they need to confirm the organic status of their tea supplier by requesting the company’s certificate. We post ours right online. Achieving organic certification is a process that requires a lot of effort on the part of the company. Those tea companies that are certified should reap the benefits of customer loyalty for making this effort to meet the NOP required regulations.

Teas Etc has made the internal decision to refer to and sell “organic” only when 100% of the ingredients are organic certified. This is not an NOP rule rather an internal decision that we made in an attempt to reduce confusion.

2. In China, I (and many others) often used a cup similar to your tea travel mug as an “at work teacup.” What inspired you to bring it to the US market? It’s super easy. US consumers love convenience. I knew it was unique and thought it may catch on. I know I really love using mine.

3. Congratulations on receiving World Tea Champoinship awards/nominations for several Teas Etc. teas. Can you tell us a little about how you are able to discover these teas? We won 2 first place and 1 second place awards at this year’s World Tea Championship. All of our awards came in the Signature Famous Tea Division which is impressive since there were only 12 teas in that division. We won 1st place in both Assam and Ceylon and 2nd place in Black with our Organic Golden Monkey. Discovering those teas is a two- fold process. First we develop and maintain quality relationships with our direct trade network of suppliers. Second we cup a tremendous amount of tea and rely on our palates to select good quality.

What you may not know is that we also received the “best new packaging” award for our new Get Real, Get Loose line of teas.

4. You find yourself on the streets of NYC and craving some good tea. Where do you head first? Franchia between 35th & 36th streets on Park Avenue South. This small, beautifully detailed Korean restaurant has great food and great tea!

5. What is your favorite word? Yes

6. What is your least favorite word? No

7. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Besides the obvious “tea” I really love decorating. I am into color, textures and fabrics. I am very clear on what I like. I have a distinct sense of style which I inherited from my mother. I love to put unorthodox things to unorthodox uses. Seeing it all come together brings me a great sense of accomplishment. I really enjoy a financial challenge. What I mean by that is making $500 look like $5000 and believe me I have lived long enough to get really good at it!

Everyone at the office knows that I will never duplicate a tradeshow booth…its sort of a standing joke, at least we are all laughing when it’s over. I have created a great home environment at our offices as well. We spend a lot of time at work and I insist on comfort. We even installed a full kitchen.

Some other things that I find pleasurable are knitting, gardening, traveling and oh eating.

8. What sound or noise do you love? The purr of my kitties.

9. What sound or noise do you hate? Horns honking.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? You did good.

Beth Cupping Fujian 2008
Beth Cupping Fujian 2008

Thanks for the chance to share a little more of myself with tea lovers everywhere. One last thing I would like to share with you is a quote that I wrote about 8 years ago “tea is so much more than a beverage to quench thirst…it soothes the soul and nurtures the spirit one sip at a time”


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Walker Tea Review- a tea blog with tea reviews and tea tastings. Operated by Jason Walker.